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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Date published:
November 20, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • UCI makes a few changes to mountain bike rules for 2014

    Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower MTB Racing Team)
    Article published:
    November 13, 2013, 3:03 GMT
    Cycling News

    Start order, race categorizations, marathon distances and junior racing tweaked

    The UCI announced several changes to its mountain bike racing rules for 2014. They address start order, event category designations and elite junior racing.

    For cross country and downhill World Cups, the start order will be determined by World Cup ranking for the 2014 season rather than UCI rankings as was the case previously. Automatic qualifiers for downhill will still be decided by World Cup rankings.

    The UCI is also changing its category 3 designation of cross country-type events to be more flexible in terms of distance and duration. As a result, eliminator events will be categorized as C3 events on the UCI calendar with the exception of the world championships. Riders will earn UCI points for C3-designated eliminator races.

    Marathon race distances could get longer next season. The UCI is increasing the maximum distance authorized for marathon events to 160km. It also made some changes to the UCI Marathon Series, in terms of how many events count to the general ranking and the scale of points for each.

    The 2014 UCI regulations include new provisions for enduro and mass start downhill events. Both types can be registered on the UCI calendar.

    As previously reported, the UCI has decided not to make any changes to the World Cup eliminator for 2014 after the discipline was not included in the events for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Also, juniors will no longer compete in the cross country World Cup. Instead, they will get a six-round UCI Junior Series, including existing events in central Europe. There will be no general classification for the Junior Series although a world ranking of juniors based on UCI points will be maintained.

    There is no word yet from the UCI on whether any changes will be made to UCI Rule...

  • F’izi:k THAR saddle – first look

    F’izi:k designed the THAR to counter fit issues the company saw with existing saddles on 29ers
    Article published:
    November 13, 2013, 9:42 GMT
    Josh Patterson/Future Publishing

    For 29er mountain bikes

    Saddle manufacturer F’izi:k has developed a new saddle intended to be used on 29er mountain bikes.

    So what makes a saddle 29er-specific? According to F’izi:k, “Larger wheels have forced changes in mountain bike geometry, often including longer chainstays and shallower seat angles. These changes have an affect on weight distribution and bike fit, tending to position the rider further towards the back of the bike.”

    In order to address these fit issues, the THAR has rails with 95mm of fore/aft adjustment—25mm longer than comparable saddles, F’izi:k claims. This length was added to the rear of the saddle, allowing it to be positioned further forward to compensate for shallower seat angles and longer top tubes found on some (but certainly not all) big-wheeled mountain bikes.

    In addition to adding more fore/aft adjustment, the THAR also has a shorter tail to prevent the saddle buzzing the rear tire. A rare occurrence that can happen on some long-travel 29ers when the rear suspension is fully compressed and the seatpost is completely dropped.

    The THAR comes with two Nylon spaces, called Tuner Inserts, which allow the rider to customize saddle flex.

  • Schurter considers racing on the road in 2014

    Nino Schurter leads Jaroslav Kulhavy
    Article published:
    November 13, 2013, 19:30 GMT
    Cycling News

    Mountain bike world champion may test his legs in new discipline

    Cross country mountain bike world champion and World Cup overall winner Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower) is considering racing some road events in 2014 according to

    Schurter, who is presently enjoying an off-season break after a very successful 2013 season, is reportedly considering whether to make a debut with the Orica-GreenEdge team in 2014. Orica-GreenEdge also races Scott bikes, so there would not be a conflict with his mountain bike team sponsor.

    Schurter's possible candidate road events include the Tour of Romandie and the Tour de Suisse, both Swiss events where he could theoretically test his legs against the roadies and decide whether to race more road events in subsequent years or even try to double up on road and mountain bike racing at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

    There are a few issues with that plan. First, the Tour of Romandie, scheduled for April 23 to April 28, 2014 conflicts with the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Cairns, Australia, scheduled for April 24-27, 2014. Secondly, per the UCI regulations, riders cannot join WorldTour teams for a week here and there.

    Schurter renewed his contract with his current Scott-Swisspower mountain bike team just ahead of his winning the 2014 world championship title in August.

    Last year, Olympic mountain bike champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) mulled over a switch to road racing, but the Czech rider decided to stay with mountain biking in 2013.

  • Mountain bike stage racing returns to Haiti

    Racers fly through some rocky terrain in the Mountain Bike Ayiti
    Article published:
    November 14, 2013, 21:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Second annual MTB Ayiti set for 2014

    Mountain Bike Ayiti, a mountain bike stage race, will run for its second year in Haiti in January 2014. The successful inaugural event, held earlier this year, attracted national and international riders such as Hans Rey, Marla Streb, and Sonya Looney, who finished as race champion.

    Held in partnership with Haiti's Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Sport, Youth, and Civic Action, the 2014 race wove bike-related "ecosystem building" activities, cultural immersion experiences and three days of challenging riding into a unique six-day event.

    "One of our goals is to attract world-class events to Haiti to showcase the natural beauty that few have imagined possible. The Haiti Mountain Bike Stage Race is a perfect opportunity to take adventurous athletes through terrain ranging from sandy beaches and lush forests to mountain ridge-lines," said Stephanie Villedrouin, Minister of Tourism for Haiti.

    "Ayiti" translates into "land of mountains", underscoring Haiti as an ideal locale for mountain biking. Building on that, MTB Ayiti is already one of the most impactful catalysts for Haiti's adventure tourism industry and demonstrates the potential for companies to deliver measurable positive economic impact. Incubated by Travelcology, the founders are already bringing local partners into the core team and MTB Ayiti will be grown into a Haitian-owned and operated business.

    "People often forget that Haiti is a Caribbean island. There is tremendous opportunity to build Haiti's tourism industry and a key objective is to shift the world's perspective on what Haiti has to offer," said Philip Kiracofe, the founder of MTB Ayiti.

    Held from January 28 to February 2, 2014, participants will race and explore two distinctive regions of the country - the majestic mountains towering above Port au Prince and the coastal Cotes des Arcadins.

    Ranch le Montcel will serve as the first host venue, and riders will ascend thousands of feet...

  • Junior national champion Newcomb moves up the ranks

    Lucas Newcomb (Specialized) riding to victory in the men's 17-18 race
    Article published:
    November 18, 2013, 19:38 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Mountain biker grateful for NICA experience

    One of the highlights of Lucas Newcomb's 2013 season was winning the US junior cross country mountain bike national championships in July. The Whole Athlete/Specialized Team rider got his start in the sport a few years ago in high school mountain bike racing through the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) NorCal League.

    Newcomb began his competitive athletic career as an Alpine ski racer in the third grade.

    "I was big into that," he said. "Then my older brother Nick Newcomb started bike racing in high school. He was into it and wanted me to get into it."

    During his freshman year at St. Francis Drake High School, Lucas Newcomb spent time at the Sugar Bowl Ski Academy in Tahoe. But after working hard all year to improve his skiing, the results he wanted were just not coming.

    "Nick encouraged me to try bike racing. I had started riding some when I was at Sugar Bowl to stay in shape. When I came back from there, I was able to do the last three races of the Norcal NICA League's season, and I was able to win them. I got super stoked off that."

    What appeals to Newcomb about mountain biking is how he can see the fruits of his hard work in training pay off in racing.

    "Ski racing takes hard work, but there is the aspect of being a talented skier and raw skills. It's less fitness based. In bike racing, if you train perfectly, you can race perfectly. It's a sport where if you work hard, it pays off because it's so fitness-based and not just talent-based. You can be good with talent, but it takes hard work to be good - dedication and time and eating right. It all comes together."

    It was during his freshman year in high school that he switched from the ski racing he'd been doing for six years to mountain bike racing.

    The first year he went to nationals in the junior 15-16 category did not go well, but...

  • Schultz makes comeback with Team Sho-Air/Cannondale

    Sam Schultz (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    November 19, 2013, 14:45 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Olympic mountain biker recovers from back injury

    For years, Sam Schultz pushed through pain in his back as he chased his Olympic dream. The American mountain biker had his best season yet in 2012, winning the cross country national championship and finishing 15th in the London Olympics, but soon afterward, he was forced to take an extended period off from racing and training to address the pain. After missing the entire 2013 season, Schultz has just signed with Team Sho-Air/Cannondale and he's looking ahead to returning to racing in 2014.

    "I'd like to get back to racing. My motivation is higher than it's ever been. I'm just excited," the 27-year-old Schultz told Cyclingnews. "Sho-Air/Cannondale seem very supportive. The team is the perfect fit." He has committed to a one-year deal with his new team, with an option to extend for a second year.

    "I have a lot of respect for Sam. I've watched him grow up in cycling," Team Sho-Air/Cannondale owner Scott Tedro told Cyclingnews. "We already had a great team with our current riders, but I was stunned to hear that he'd been released by his former team. We found the budget to sign him. If his surgery is successful, I believe he'll come back stronger than ever. He's matured a lot through this experience, and I think the sport owes him the opportunity to come back."

    After facing the most prolonged injury of his career in late 2012 and 2013, Schultz said, "I've learned a lot in the past year. The biggest thing is that I've been reminded of how much I love racing my bike. The injury has also reminded me how important health is. Without that, you don't have anything. After having a back issue, it seems like everyone I talk to has had a back issue at some point, too. But you don't get it until you've had it. Back stuff takes over everything. You can't get...

  • Cape Epic adopts equal prize payout for women and men

    2013 Cape Epic Ladies Winners, Yolande Speedy (R) and Catherine Williamson (L)
    Article published:
    November 19, 2013, 21:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    Sponsor steps up support of women's race

    Organizers of the Cape Epic announced on Wednesday that they will pay equal prize money for the elite men and women at the 2014 edition of the popular mountain bike stage race.

    The Cape Epic already offered the largest total prize purse in the world for mountain biking and the increase to R690,000 ($68,048) for the ladies' purse now takes the race's total prize purse for all categories to R1,564,000 ($154,241). The increase was made possible due to the support of sponsor Sasol Oil.

    "We're delighted to be sponsoring the legendary Cape Epic. This grueling race demands exceptional performance from all riders, regardless of their gender. We believe the prize money should reflect this and we're therefore very proud to be increasing the 2014 women's prize, to equal to that of the men," said Alan Cameron, Managing Director of Sasol Oil.

    Cape Epic founder Kevin Vermaak said, "I believe prize money lends credibility to a professional sport. Even just a few years ago, a few hundred thousand rand was a big pay-out for mountain biking - not only in South Africa, but for mountain biking all over the world. I'm happy that with the help of our sponsors, we have been able to consistently and substantially increase the prize money at the Cape Epic, which in turn stimulates other mountain bike races to also increase their prize money, and thereby increase professional mountain bikers' earnings."

    "South Africa must be the only country in the world where road cyclists switch to mountain biking because they can potentially earn more off-road. I'm proud of the role we have played in uplifting the professionalism of our sport in South Africa."

    Reigning marathon world champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå welcomed the news. "It's fantastic when a very popular event, such as the Cape Epic, decides to have the same prize money for men and women. I promised myself (and Kevin Vermaak) many years ago that I wouldn't participate in top marathon races...

  • Past women's winners overjoyed with increased Cape Epic prize purse

    Esther Suss (front) and Jane Nuessli (rear) of BMC Wheeler during stage 1 of the 2013 Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race
    Article published:
    November 20, 2013, 17:35 GMT
    Cycling News

    De Villiers, Bigham and Süss react to news of equal prize money

    The world's top female mountain bikers are overjoyed with the Cape Epic's announcement on Tuesday that the race will match the women's and men's prize purses in 2014. An increase to R690,000 for the women's purse now takes the race's total prize purse for all categories to R1,564,000 ($153,937).

    Previous Cape Epic winner Yolande de Villiers said, "Sport brings out the true character of a person. Therefore it is fitting that [sponsor] Sasol Oil has shown its real character in empowering women by equalising the ladies' category prize money for the Cape Epic to that of the men."

    "This is a moment for ladies cycling to rejoice and cherish, as for many years women have had to compete at the top of cycling without proper or full recognition for the sacrifice and devotion. This decisive step will create the catalyst and send a strong signal about equality in global cycling at this truly international event."

    Two-time Cape Epic winner Sally Bigham said, "It's exciting and extremely encouraging to hear that the Cape Epic and Sasol have matched the prize money in the elite men's and women's categories. I sincerely hope that it sends a message to women, signaling that times are changing."

    Esther Süss, 2012 Cape Epic winner shared her thoughts. "The Cape Epic is pioneering the way for ladies in sport and it really is a step in the right direction for women's sport. A big thank you to the organisers and Sasol."

    Hanlie Booyens won the inaugural 2004 Cape Epic and went on to complete five more events, finishing on the podium on five occasions. "I believe the prize money is a very important incentive to attract the top riders from all over the world, but I also see it as a thumbs-up from the organisers, sponsors and hopefully media that the ladies component of this race is as worthy of acknowledgement as the men. And this goes for all...