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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Date published:
March 21, 2012, 0:00 GMT
  • MTB superstars support Sauser's charity race

    Christoph Sauser poses with some youths from the Kayamandi Township
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 15:22 GMT
    By:
    Nic Lamond in South Africa

    Songo.info hosts celebrity race days before start of Cape Epic

    Just four days before top endurance mountain bikers line up for the start of the Absa Cape Epic, sports and education charity Songo.info is hosting an exhibition cross country race to showcase the work of the trust. On Wednesday, March 21, Kayamandi township, outside Stellenbosch, will be the scene for a race featuring some of the most talented mountain bike riders on the planet.

    According to event organizer, reigning marathon world champion Christoph Sauser (aka Susi), "Wednesday will be a riders' and spectators' day, fully packed with action and fun! Our Songo kids will be so proud to see people joining them in their township. It will also be the first time ever that the current mountain bike world champions are racing in the township!"

    Susi is referring to an exhibition race in which he will line up alongside Specialized teammate and reigning cross country world champion Jaroslav Kulhavy, who is in the country after competing at the Pietermaritzburg World Cup this past weekend.

    Susi has also invited his friends and colleagues from the World Cup circuit to ensure the competition will be stiff including two current and two former world champions and seven current national champions. "The pro race will host riders from more than 15 different nations. We are looking forward to the support of the mountain biking community. We will also be holding BMX races for kids and even a mountain bike race open to the public." 

    The Songo.info program was pioneered by the Swiss racer in 2008. A chance meeting between local community leader and avid...

  • Gallery: Perfect home World Cup for Minnaar

    Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 17:20 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Teammate Peat celebrates his 100th World Cup start

    Racing in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Greg Minnaar won the UCI Downhill World Cup season opener on Sunday with an exhilarating final run that had the hill alive with the roar of thousands of fans.

    "It's a great feeling to do well in front of all my family and friends and their support is amazing!" said Minnaar, who also won the Pietermaritzburg World Cup in 2009.

    Minnaar and his Santa Cruz Syndicate teammates Steve Peat and Josh Bryceland enjoyed the local crowds and improvements to the track. Training went well all week and the trio came into the season fit and lean.

    Minnaar was fastest in qualifying by a slim margin of 0.008 seconds over Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing), and he picked up max points for his efforts. Peat was 11th fastest and Bryceland was 17th.

    Rain was on and off during the week, with quite a bit coming down on race night. It dried up quickly and turned out to be a beautiful day for the finals.

    Minnaar started into his final race run and made a few mistakes and was two seconds down at the first split. He gained some time by the second split and was only one second off the pace. As he neared the finish, the volume of the hometown crowd was at a fevered pitch and boosted his effort into overdrive. As the leader board went green, fans flooded into the finish area to congratulate Minnaar while Peaty lifted him off the ground in victory.

    "I made a few mistakes on the top part of the track and I knew I had to make up some time. On the bottom section I had to stand and pedal hard and I fought all the way to the finish," said...

  • Platt and Sahm aim to repeat past Cape Epic success

    Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 19:07 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Previous winners team up for fifth time

    Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm will team up for the Cape Epic starting on Sunday, March 25. The German Team Bulls' riders previously won the race in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and hope to return to the top step of the podium in 2012. Last year, they were third.

    Platt, 34, also managed to win the inaugural 2004 Cape Epic race with his previous partner Carsten Bresser. "I've participated in all the Cape Epics since its inception - it has become an unique race over the years, which I could see from the very beginning," said Platt. "It has become part of my career, but the main thing is that I love to race it!"

    Riding with Sahm for the fifth time, Platt calls him "my brother from another mother", adding that they look after each other during each race more than they look after themselves.

    Sahm in turn says he keeps coming back because he likes the pain and because "the Cape Epic is for sure the most painful week in cycling. I also love the relief when I cross the finish line in Lourensford. It's hard to tell what makes Karl and I such a strong combination. Maybe it's because we're completely different characters but we have the same goal."

    Platt's previous victories speak volumes - six-time winner of the TransAlp, winner of the TransRockies, winner of the TransGermany, winner of the Trans Schwarzwald, winner of the Sabie Classic, winner of Tour de Langkawi and also German marathon champion.

    His partner Sahm, 35, also boasts an impressive list of wins, such as the TransAlp. the TransGermany, the Trans Schwarzwald, the Riva del Garda and Willingen Marathons, and the National Bundesliga.

    Thanks to their years of racing together, Platt said that he and Sahm do not need to train together...

  • Cooper's flawless World Cup record stays intact

    Anton Cooper (Trek World Racing) floats his way through a rock garden.
    Article published:
    March 20, 2012, 20:40 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    New Zealander wins by over four minutes in Pietermaritzburg

    Living in New Zealand and still finishing up school, junior rider Anton Cooper doesn't make it all the World Cups, but when he does, he wins. Cooper has won every World Cup he has entered, with the most recent victory coming on Sunday in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. His victory on Sunday brings his unbeaten World Cup tally to three, after winning at Nove Mesto and Val di Sole in August, 2011.

    His victory was also the first-ever cross country World Cup win for his Trek World Racing team. The squad is well known already for its success on the downhill front thanks to many wins last year by American Aaron Gwin and former team member Tracy Moseley.

    "The race went really well for me as I had such fresh legs, so it was fun to race today," said Cooper after finishing. "Honestly, I could have gone for another lap I enjoyed it so much! There are some other big races coming up this year so I'm really looking forward to them."

    In Pietermaritzburg, Cooper won the first UCI Mountain Bike World Cup of the year, putting four and half minutes into the reigning junior world champion Victor Koretzky (Bikepark.Ch Scott). The young rider from Christchurch attacked decisively on the second climb of the first lap, putting 15 seconds into the Frenchman and continued to stretch his lead over the four-lap race.

    Lapping around one-minute a lap quicker than his nearest opponents, it was clear...

  • Paez undergoes surgery for collarbone repair

    Leonardo Paez (TX Active Bianchi)
    Article published:
    March 21, 2012, 0:49 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Colombian recovering from crash at MTB World Cup

    TX Active-Bianchi's Leonardo Paez underwent surgery to repair a broken left collarbone on Tuesday. The Colombian fractured his collarbone while racing at round 1 of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa this weekend.

    According to his team, the operation was conducted at the Fondazione Poliambulanza hospital in Brescia, Italy by Doctor Flavio Terragnoli, who installed a plate and screws to reduce the displacement of bone ends resulting from the fracture.

    Paez is expected to resume training again by the end of March.

  • NICA Launches Booster Fund to increase access to sport

    Potential beneficiaries of the NICA Booster Fund Program: Sacramento police officer George Martinez formed the Luther Burbank High School Mountain Bike Team in Sacramento as part of a holistic approach to preventing youth delinquency. Using numerous resources, including bicycles from Police Property, equipment donations from other schools, the business community and volunteers, Officer Martinez ensures the success of this program without impacting the Police Department’s budget.
    Article published:
    March 21, 2012, 14:46 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Grants available for student-athletes, coaches and teams

    The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) announced the launch of the NICA Booster Fund program. The fund was established with $30,000 raised at the NICA Awards Banquet in January this year and will provide micro-grants to individual student-athletes, coaches and teams from underrepresented areas and disadvantaged backgrounds with the goal of increasing participation in NICA leagues.

    The Booster Fund provides direct support, through individual micro-grants, to offset expenses directly related to participation in NICA league and team activities. By covering these expenses, the fund also provides indirect support for NICA leagues, and helps to ensure the sustainable development and funding of league staff, programs and activities, by actively assisting in the expansion of league ridership.

    "Achieving this goal will be an important milestone toward our vision to enable every American teen to strengthen body, mind and character through participation in high school mountain biking," said NICA founder and executive director, Matt Fritzinger.

    Applications for the first round of grants offered through the fund are being accepted through April 3. Up to $15,000 will go to as many as 30 student-athletes, coaches and teams in the NICA spring racing leagues, which this year are Northern California, Southern California, Washington and Texas.

    Applications are made directly to NICA, and those from student-athletes require a coach's reference. Recipients will be notified by April 13.

    For more information on the grant and how to apply, visit www.nationalmtb.org/nica-booster-fund/

  • Evans and George set sights on elusive Cape Epic victory

    Kevin Evans (right) and David George of Team Nedbank 360Life
    Article published:
    March 21, 2012, 16:33 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    Duo hopes to become first South African winners

    A victory in the 2012 Absa Cape Epic is the only thing on the minds of Kevin Evans and David George of Team Nedbank 360Life. The South African pair have been preparing meticulously for the HC-categorized mountain bike stage race for the past eleven-and-a-half months. And on Sunday, March 25, their quest will begin when the race starts with a 27km prologue time trial at Meerendal Wine Estate in South Africa's Western Cape province.

    Evans and George have partnered three times previously for the Cape Epic, each time in a serious bid to become the first South African team to win the demanding race, which this year covers a distance of 781km with 16,300m of vertical ascent.

    "The Absa Cape Epic is arguably the biggest, toughest and most important stage race in the world, and it's on our door step, bringing the world stage of mountain biking to us... you've gotta do that!" said Evans. "Our chances are as good as any other. We believe it's achievable in 2012 to become the first South Africans to win."

    "We return every year for the beauty and uniqueness of the race and the pairs racing format, as well as the opportunity to take on the world's best mountain bikers in our own backyard," said George.

    In 2008, they were third, and in 2009, they were fourth. They raced on different teams in 2010 and last year, racing for the first time as Team Nedbank 360Life, their bid ended suddenly on stage 2 when Evans crashed on a descent and smashed his left collarbone. George continued to finish solo, but from the minute Evans woke from the anaesthetic following the surgery to repair his collarbone, their sights were adjusted to achieving victory in the 2012 edition.

    "Kev and I have very different...

  • Gallery: Fumic punches Olympic ticket

    Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    March 21, 2012, 19:20 GMT
    By:
    Cycling News

    German podiums at Pietermaritzburg World Cup

    Manuel Fumic (Cannondale Factory Racing) raced to a third place at the opening cross country World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on Saturday. Not only a good start to the season, the podium finish helped him score a spot on the German Olympic Team headed to London in August.

    In an interview at a recent team camp, Fumic told Cyclingnews that he was pre-qualified by the German Cycling Federation for its Olympic team. To finalize his selection, he had to finish in the top 15 in one of the first four World Cups this spring. That mission was accomplished in Pietermaritzburg.

    "I was pretty nervous the last day, but this morning I was sure I could do well," said Fumic just after finishing the race. "I hoped to repeat last year's result, but half way through the race while in the leading group, I saw the podium as possible." He was racing with eventual winner Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) and Burry Stander (Specialized) as part of the three-man lead group.

    "When Nino attacked, I could not go with them, but could keep riding my speed and lines for the last lap," said Fumic. "I am super happy about the result and even more happy to have my Olympic ticket for sure. Now the team and myself can focus on the next races, and we are trying to confirm what we did today."

    Cannondale Factory Racing teammate Marco Fontana also had a solid ride to finish ninth, an impressive result considering that he had dislocated his shoulder just a few weeks ago during a training camp in Italy.

    "When I woke up in the hospital two weeks ago after dislocating my shoulder in Finale...