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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Date published:
June 29, 2011, 1:00 BST
  • Näf will not start the marathon world championships

    Ralph Naef (Multivan Merida Biking Team)
    Article published:
    June 23, 2011, 16:45 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Swiss rider taking more time to recover before next World Cups

    Normally, Switzerland's Ralph Näf (Multivan Merida) would have been one of the hot contenders for the win at the upcoming mountain bike marathon world championships. One year ago, he won the European championship title on the same course. But Näf has decided not to start in order to give himself more time to prepare for the upcoming World Cup races in Canada and the United States during the first two weekends of July. Näf has been trying to heal his injured back.

    "I still have some very serious problems with my back. It is getting better and better, but a marathon race would actually be the worst to do," said Näf.

    "I want to get some important World Cup points in Canada and the USA and come back to top shape with the help of my team physiotherapist."

    Näf won the marathon world title in 2006 in Oisans, France.

    Although Näf will not be racing, several of his teammates still have high hopes for the marathon Worlds. For Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, this race is one of the highlights of her season. One year ago at the European championships, she rode to a second-place finish on the same course that is named after her, and she is going into this world championships in much better form.

    Andreas Kugler is in a similar situation, having won the bronze medal and having joined Näf on the podium a year ago. With Jochen Käss and Hannes Genze, the Multivan Merida Biking Team has two more riders with ambitions for a strong result at the start. The pair finished second overall at the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race earlier...

  • Medvedev looks for success at marathon Worlds

    Alexey Medvedev (Elettroveneta-Corratec) on his way to winning stage 2
    Article published:
    June 23, 2011, 18:37 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Russian mountain biker is fresh off two recent wins

    Newly crowned European marathon champion Alexey Medvedev (Elettroveneta-Corratec) will race the marathon world championships this Sunday in Montebelluna, Italy.

    The Russian is in good form. In addition to his European title, he also recently won the overall at the Alpentour Trophy. The victories have strengthened his confidence in long distance events.

    "Everything is going well," said Medvedev to Austrian reporters as he travelled to Italy. "I'm confident and I'll try (to win) again, even if the Worlds will be a different race than the Europeans because there are no long climbs and the circuit is very fast.

    "It is essential to have a strong team, but it doesn't scare me because I will try to take advantage of the other nations," said Medvedev, who will be racing for Russia.

    "The real danger to mark are those two or three athletes who will have 'hidden' in the group and will come out of the closet with 15km to go." That's when many are expecting the decisive attacks to occur.

    Medvedev is more focused than ever and has been collaborating with ex-road pro Marco Fincato, a former teammate of Marco Pantani's. He may need to employ some road tactics for the 115km marathon with its rolling course that will likely keep the favorites together until near the end.

  • Chur Racer Bikes Cup a final test before North American World Cups

    Nino Schurter (Scott - Swisspower MTB - Racing)
    Article published:
    June 23, 2011, 21:36 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Schurter favored to win at home

    After hosting the Swiss championships two years ago, mountain bikers will return to Chur for the sixth round of the Swiss Racer Bikes Cup this weekend. For World Cup racers, it is the last chance to test the legs before the two North American rounds in early July.

    Nino Schurter is the favorite to win and regain the Racer Bikes Cup series lead while Lisi Osl, Irina Kalentieva and Katrin Leumann are expected to battle in the women's race.

    A sprint event in the city of Chur will kick off the action Friday night. Happening on Lower Station Road, the race is not far from Schurter's home. It will be tough for anyone to beat a well rested Schurter.

    "I had three great weeks of training and furthered my good form," said Schurter of his recent break from racing. "Churchill is my final preparation for the next block of World Cup racing overseas. I want to feel strong and rebuild my confidence."

    Florian Vogel has similar intentions. After winning his home race in Gränichen, he is also using this weekend's racing as final preparation for the World Cups.

    Although riders from 13 nations are expected on the start line, Swiss riders Lukas Flückiger, Patrick Gallati, Fabian Giger, Martin Fanger, Thomas Litscher and Martin Gujan are probably the biggest challengers to the Scott-Swisspower Vogel-Schurter duo.

    Schurter, Vogel and the Flückiger brothers Lukas and Matthias are all ranked in the top-10 of the world.

    Looking at the women's race, two years ago at nationals, Leumann won the national title, and she'd be happy to win again in Chur. But her Ghost teammate Osl may have something to say about...

  • Refsnider first to finish 2011 Tour Divide race

    blank
    Article published:
    June 28, 2011, 16:14 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Fastest southbound and northbound riders complete race

    Kurt Refsnider became the first rider to finish this year's Tour Divide on Sunday, June 26. Refsnider completed the approximately 2,745-mile, self-supported race along the North American Continental Divide. He started in Banff, Canada, on June 10 and finished in Antelope Wells, New Mexico at the US-Mexico border.

    According to the data from his GPS-tracking device, veteran Refsnider, who is from Boulder, Colorado, finished his southbound trek at 5:01:55 am after riding through the night in one final push.

    Jefe Branham also finished at the southern terminus on Sunday at 9:25:57, just a few hours after Refsnider. Branham, from Gunnison, Colorado, was competing in the Tour Divide for the first time and was the first singlespeed finisher.

    Ethan Passant of Crested Butte, Colorado, was the third man to reach the end of the southbound contest at 8:20:12 on Monday, June 27. Dave Bruno of Doettingen, Connecticut, wrapped up shortly thereafter at 8:39:51.

    In 2011, a contingent of Tour Divide riders took the northbound racing approach, starting in Antelope Wells and going to Banff. Only one northbound racer has already finished: Paul Attalla of Fernie, British Colombia. He also finished on Sunday at 10:58:04, not long after the first two southbound finishers.

    Behind Attalla, Craig Dolwin of Swindon, United Kingdom, and Denis Chazelle of Champagne, France, are the next two men on course, in Montana.

    No women have finished yet, but Caroline Soong of Boulder, Colorado, is leading. She is currently in northern New Mexico.

    Plenty of other racers are still out on course, and their progress can be followed at http://trackleaders.com/tourdivide.

  • Brentjens looks forward to Leadville 100 challenge

    Bart Brentjens (Milka-Trek Mountain Bike Team)
    Article published:
    June 28, 2011, 19:00 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Milka Trek teammates Wynants, Boelen also in

    Dutchman Bart Brentjens will race this year's Leadville 100 mountain bike race on August 13 together with Milka-Trek teammates Tim Wynants of Belgium and Jeroen Boelen of the Netherlands.  It will be the first Leadville participation for the 1996 Olympic cross country mountain bike champion.

    The Leadville 100 covers 100 miles in high altitude terrain in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The race starts at 10,152 feet and climbs to 12,424 feet. First run in 1994, the race is so popular that a lottery system and qualifiers are used to determine who gets into the race.

    "It all started in the USA for the sport of mountain biking," said Brentjens, aged 42. "The USA is the world's mountain bike mecca. One of the most challenging and well-known mountain bike races in the USA is the Leadville 100."

    "It is great that I can participate this year's edition. The last two years, I didn't win the lottery. This race is a real big challenge for me."

    Brentjens, who has raced other challenging endurance events like the Cape Epic and Crocodile Trophy mountain bike stage races, first announced he would do Leadville at his team's presentation earlier this season.

    In 2009, Leadville was won by Lance Armstrong while last year's edition was won by Levi Leipheimer. Dave Wiens won the race six times.

  • A closer look at the 2011-2012 UCI marathon series

    The elite men start the UCI Marathon World Championships in 2011.
    Article published:
    June 28, 2011, 21:16 BST
    By:
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    New Marathon Series serves as Worlds qualifier

    With the dust barely settled on the 2011 UCI Marathon World Championships this past weekend in Montebelluna, Italy, it is time to start thinking about the 2012 marathon Worlds and international-level marathon racing in between, including the new UCI Marathon Series.

    As reported earlier, the UCI is implementing its Marathon Series starting now and running until just before the 2012 marathon Worlds. As dictated in the UCI MTB Regulations, for the new series, "The general ranking period starts at the UCI mountain bike marathon world championships until 2 weeks before the following year's UCI mountain bike marathon world championships." In 2012, marathon Worlds will be in Ornans, France, on October 7.

    All events in the new series count toward a re-vamped ranking of marathon riders. "The marathon series ranking is published monthly on the 25th and replaces the UCI MTB XCM ranking," Peter Van den Abeele, Manager Off-Road Disciplines for the UCI, told Cyclingnews. "Note that the last XCM MTB ranking will be calculated on June 27, 2011, after the 2011 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships."

    "The individual general marathon series ranking is drawn up on the basis of the points won by each rider. Top 40 men score points from 40 to 1 point. Top 20 women score points from 20 to 1 point. All marathon series events count for the individual general marathon series ranking," read the regulations.

    Ties are broken by the greatest number of first places, second places, etc. and as a last resort the points scored in the most recent event.

    Each marathon in the series must be between 70km and 100km for women and between 80km and 120km for men. The races can be run over a single lap, or multi-lap with three laps as a maximum. In the event of a...

  • Countdown to the US Pro XCT finals in Montana

    Sam Schultz (Subaru Trek) climbins on the Missoula XC course
    Article published:
    June 29, 2011, 15:32 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    Missoula to host its largest-ever major mountain bike event

    The final round of USA Cycling's 2011 US Pro XCT is just under one month away on July 23-24. The organizers of the Missoula XC race are gearing up for the largest mountain bike event ever to be held in the state of Montana.

    The Missoula XC will take place at Marshall Mountain, a retired ski hill, just outside of the city. The four-plus kilometer loop, which gains 900 vertical feet per lap, has been completed and is receiving finishing touches. It has been receiving rave reviews by local Missoula riders.

    "The course is riding well and we are excited to show racers a great representation of Montana and Missoula riding," said Ben Hornan, course designer.

    "We are holding a weekday evening training race series starting this Wednesday, June 29 and every Wednesday including race week. This will help us further refine the course through race condition feedback from the weekday participants," said Horan.

    "The course is fun and technical, combining all the best features of Missoula-style trails, punchy climbs and some great descents await race participants," said Brian Williams, Technical Advisor, who worked closely with the Montana Conservation Corps to rough in the cross country course.

    The Missoula XC is being billed as a local celebration of mountain biking. "They get to race and see the top athletes of their favorite sport duke it out on a local trail," said Shaun Radley, Promoter. "Live music, a beer garden and food vendors will make this a fun summer event to watch on this spectator friendly course."

    "We know it's been a long season for the pros and amateur racers and this being the fifth and final stop for the 2011 Pro XCT, we wanted to create a friendly casual vibe for locals, amateur racers and pros a like," said Hadley.

    There is quite a bit of history for cross country mountain biking in Missoula, Montana. The only bicycle...

  • Gould and Plaxton lead US Pro XCT rankings after four rounds

    Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) pulls Lea Davison (Specialized), Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek), and Emily Batty (Subaru-Trek)
    Article published:
    June 29, 2011, 17:55 BST
    By:
    Cycling News

    One round to go in Missoula

    Georgia Gould (Luna) and Max Plaxton (Specialized USA) sit atop the USA Cycling US Pro XCT series with just one round remaining. The action in the American cross country series resumed this weekend at the Subaru Cup in Mt. Morris, Wisconsin on June 25.

    Men

    After winning the Pro XCT's penultimate event last weekend, Canadian Max Plaxton holds a 60-point lead over national champion Todd Wells (Specialized). Sam Schultz (Subaru-Trek) is in a strong in third, although young Stephen Ettinger (BMC MTB Development) has been surging up the standings.

    On Saturday at the Subaru Cup, Plaxton rode away with a 19-second, come-from-behind victory to all but seal the Pro XCT overall season title. Looking for a shot at the title, Wells took the hole shot at the bottom of the first climb, but Plaxton and Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain) soon overtook him. That duo started the fifth lap with a 50-second lead on Wells, and Plaxton made a strategic late-race attack to take his third Pro XCT victory of the season. Kabush finished second and two-time Olympian Wells was third. The 22-year-old Ettinger recorded his first major race podium in front of the raucous Wisconsin crowd.

    Women

    With her dominant victory at the Subaru Cup, Gould has overtaken Lea Davison (Specialized) atop the women's standings. Emily Batty (Subaru-Trek) is 180 points behind Davison in third place. Chloe Forsman (BMC MTB Development) and Krista Park (Cannondale-No Tubes) round out the top five.

    In the women's race, Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Trek) took the early hole shot and led the women up the first long climb of the race. Gould overtook Irmiger by the first descent and did not look back on the very technical course with...