Wells stood on the podium for only the second time in his lengthy career. He was just 34 seconds behind winner and teammate Burry Stander.
"What an amazing weekend! This season has been rough to say the least thus far but this weekend made all the hard work and sacrifice worth it," said Wells on his team's website. He had been injured earlier this spring and has been slowly building his form. "If you would have told me in La Bresse that I would be standing on the podium in Windham I would have told you that was crazy. That is exactly what makes sport so great. Anything can happen on any given day, that's why we line up."
Wells moved up from 27th at the end of the first lap to an eventual fourth place. "I probably went over the top of the first climb around 30th position. I had five more laps to move up though, and I was on a mission from that point forward. I picked off group after group and by the time we went into the last lap, I was only a few seconds behind Fontana who was in third. I caught him on the last downhill but couldn't get around him before the finish. We sprinted for third but he handily took it."
Wells grew up about 50 miles away in Ulster Park, New York. It made the win extra special. "I learned to ride on the rocks and roots of the Hudson Valley, and I get great...
Three in a row, four cross country wins total for American
Georgia Gould's fortunes took a turn for the better after two back-to-back tough UCI Mountain Bike World Cups in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec and Windham, New York. In both races, Gould had come close to winning, but she lost one due to cramping and another due to an untimely flat tire on the final lap. But on Saturday afternoon, Gould was back to being the golden girl when she won the US elite women's cross country national championships in Sun Valley, Idaho.
"I had a feeling of dread before the race," admitted the Luna rider after the finish. "I knew it was going to be so hard, no matter what and for everyone. I knew we'd all be going as hard as we could the whole time, even if we were trying to be going easy. You can't go easy on this course."
The Sun Valley elite cross country course is notorious with its very steep uphill climb on a fireroad in the sun followed by a long singletrack descent with no real passing. There is just a short flat section at the beginning of each lap.
Gould collected her third US cross country title in a row and the fourth of her career. "It's special to win," she said. "It never gets old. The national championships - to be able to wear the US national champion's jersey all year always makes me proud."
Gould had to chase down Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek), who took an early flier on the first climb. But Gould rode within herself at her own pace and reeled in Irmiger before pulling away and soloing the rest of the race toward victory.
"Heather dropped us all by 30 seconds immediately. She is...
For years, Schultz has been clawing his way up through the U23 and more recently the elite men's ranks. On Saturday afternoon, he beat defending champion Todd Wells (Specialized) for the win. It was a tight battle that came down to the last lap, when Wells flatted and had to stop for tech assistance.
"I'm pumped - that was hard," said Schultz after six laps. "It was a battle. We kept going back and forth. He would come around me on the bottom of the climb and take some big pulls, and I would always nip him just before the singletrack. He was descending pretty well and I was not descending that great, so I made sure to get ahead of him before each downhill. That was my tactic, I had to do that."
Schultz was just in front of Wells when he heard the news of his rival's flat. "From that point on, I was head down."
"It would have been real interesting if he hadn't flatted. It definitely would have come down to that last lap."
Had it come down to a two-up sprint, Schultz thinks he would have had a good chance. "When it picked up really steep, I felt like I had a little more speed then him. I felt good about winning that sprint on the last lap going into it, but obviously that didn't happen."
The last lap was a nervous and lonely one for Schultz, who fought to keep his head straight as well as his lead. "Mostly I was thinking 'don't choke,' but then I started thinking more positively. That last descent felt like it took forever. I was a little cautious because I didn't want to crash. It felt like I was out there for an...
UCI reports growth in live video streaming webcast audience
More fans have been following UCI mountain bike events on the internet via live video webcasts in 2012 than in 2011.
The audience figure for webcasts of downhill events has increased from an average of 100,000 last year to approximately 140,000 this year. The maximum total number of views of an event in 2011 was 111,252 (Pietermaritzburg). This year has produced a new record with 154,862 views of the Fort William downhill. This figure could theoretically improve further as the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup has more rounds to come.
The increase in the audience is even more marked for Olympic cross country events, doubling from 40,000 to 60,000 to an average of 90,000. The 2011 record of 63,509 views (Pietermaritzburg) increased by nearly half to 90,295 (Mont Sainte-Anne) last month.
This season, webcast coverage of events (live and replay) has been masterminded by Red Bull Media House GmbH (RBMH). The coverage method is streaming on the internet (available at www.uci.ch and www.redbull.com/bike).
"The success of the webcast coverage of mountain bike events offers encouragement to further pursue innovative media solutions," said Gerrit Middag, UCI Marketing and Events Director.
"Mountain biking, and cycling in general, has a sizeable audience of faithful fans but also many curious newcomers. This means that there is a lot of room for growth. The UCI is continuing to work on projects to develop audiences for the various disciplines of cycling in the knowledge that cycling is one of the world's most forward-looking sports. Over the years, cycling has been covered successively by the print press, radio, television and now the internet. Cycling has always been able to...
The relatively small 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup will comprise just six cross country rounds and seven downhill rounds. In its second year, the eliminator World Cup calendar grows for 2013 with five events.
In total, eight venues in eight different countries have been confirmed. A ninth round could take place in China, but this is awaiting validation after the test event scheduled for the end of September. What disciplines it might include have not been specified
Notably missing venues include what was the only recent US venue - Windham, New York. Val d'Isere, France; Houffalize, Belgium; and La Bresse, France are also gone from the calendar. Pietermaritzburg will not host a World Cup because it is hosting the Worlds in 2013.
The confirmed World Cup venues are:
- Nove Mesto (Czech Republic): For the third time on the calendar, it was voted best XCO event in its first year on the World Cup calendar (2011). It is widely recognised and appreciated for its technical circuit and its facilities (it is a biathlon and cross country venue).
- Fort William (Great Britain): It is the 11th year in the World Cup for this Scottish town which also hosted the 2007 UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships. It annually draws a large and enthusiastic crowd.
- Willingen (Germany): 2012 marks a return to the calendar after seven years' absence. The World Cup round will be part of a large annual festival with family events, 200 exhibitors and more than 30,000 visitors over three days.
Mountain bikers model outfit released by USA Cycling
USA Cycling unveiled the kits that will be worn by members of the US Cycling Team during the Olympic Games in London this summer. The kits are designed to be performance enhancing, look patriotic and have a stylish throw-back theme.
"I love it," US Mountain Bike Olympic Team member Lea Davison told Cyclingnews after trying her new kit on for the first time at the US National Championships in Sun Valley, Idaho, last weekend. "It's really classic and it looks great. I'm excited."
The road, track, and mountain bike kits were designed by Skins.
Featuring "USA" across the chest, vertical red and white stripes, and columns of stars on a dark blue backdrop, the Skins jersey offers a clean, retro look. As long-time cycling fans might notice, the design is reminiscent of the US kits from the 1984 Olympics.
"The kits look amazing," said 2012 US Mountain Bike Olympic Team member Sam Schultz. "I'm super fired up for them. I like the sort of retro look. It's clean. Hopefully we can ride as well as those kits look."
Designed specifically for the riders, the kits are crafted of fabrics that were selected for a range of weather conditions, as well as aerodynamic and breathability qualities.
Skins said it was proud to partner with USA Cycling for the Olympics and highlighted the kit's technical design, aero fabric and fit.
"We will be screaming at the TV in excitement during the Games," said Skins' General Counsel Benjamin Fitzmaurice.
The Subaru-Trek squad dominated the penultimate stop on the 2012 USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Tour (Pro XCT) last weekend, winning both the elite men's and women's events at the Missoula XC. With their wins, Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek) and Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) tightened up the top of the Pro XCT overall standings with only Wisconsin's Subaru Cup remaining.
Colin Cares (Kenda/Felt) holds a slight lead over Schultz and Todd Wells (Specialized) in the men's standings headed into the series' final event, the Subaru Cup, on August 18. On the women's side, Pua Mata (ShoAir), who also leads the USA Cycling Pro Ultra-Endurance Calendar (Pro UET), has 40 points on Irmiger and 50 on Erin Huck (Tokyo Joe's) with only one event remaining.
With another solid team performance in Missoula, Subaru-Trek has a firm grip on the team overall, 51 points ahead of Kenda/Felt Pro MTB Team and 61 on third-placed Specialized racing.
The 2012 Pro XCT will wrap up with the Subaru Cup in Mt. Morris, Wisconsin on August 18.