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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Date published:
November 27, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • South African marathon MTB series makes changes to attract foreigners

    Gawie Combrinck and Max Knox in action earlier this year at the MTN Clarens
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 3:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    More compact series with some different events ahead of marathon Worlds

    The MTN National Mountain Bike Series has changed the face of mountain biking in South Africa. What started as a small series with a couple of hundred participants in 2002 is now the biggest national mountain bike series in the world with tens of thousands of participants. The events that formed part of the series in the past have all become institutions on the local and international racing calendars. Advendurance, organizers of the series, are making some changes to the list of events that will be part of the 2014 Series.

    Key to the success of the MTN National Series has always been their careful consideration of its dates to allow South Africans to shine on the international cycling stage.  In 2014, Advendurance director Fritz Pienaar has been planning around the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race and the UCI World Marathon Championships in Pietermaritzburg.

    The changes should also make the races more attractive to international racers based on how they fit in the overall international calendar. The current economic climate makes it near impossible for South Africa's young riders to base themselves in Europe to gain international racing experience which means it's all the more important to get experience at home racing top international riders.

    Four of the eight races in the MTN National MTB Series are recognized as fully fledged UCI-sanctioned events, making it easier for local riders to get international racing exposure. The MTN Sabie and MTN Clarens events form part of the UCI World Series while the MTN Tulbagh and MTN Hilton Nationals are also listed on the international calendar.

    Riders competing in the 2014 Cape Epic from March 23-30 could start their preparation by competing in the MTN Dullstroom on February 8. Two weeks later, it is the world series event and MTN Sabie on February 22 followed by the MTN Tulbagh on March 15.

    The MTN Dullstroom National will be a must-do for anyone keen to test themselves at...

  • Courtney looks forward to 2014 with Specialized Racing

    Kate Courtney on course at Albstadt Germany World Cup, 2013.
    Article published:
    November 21, 2013, 18:55 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Young American prepares for transition to U23 ranks

    American mountain biker Kate Courtney is looking forward to the challenge of moving up from the junior ranks to the under 23 ranks. The Stanford University student signed a contract last month with the Specialized Racing team for 2014.

    "Joining the Specialized family has been a dream of mine for a long time. I have always looked up to the incredible athletes that make up the team," said Courtney, who is the reigning junior cross country national champion and a collegiate mountain bike national champion.

    "After being on the Whole Athlete-Specialized development team for four years, moving up to Specialized feels like an exciting step and a good fit for what I want to accomplish in the future. With the support that the team will provide and the mentorship of my new teammates, I am hoping to make a successful transition to the U23 ranks."

    It can be difficult for many young riders to make the leap to U23 or to elite ranks. The competition is tougher, the learning curve is steep and sometimes physical and mental maturity lag a rider's mental ambition, but Courtney is optimistic.

    "Transitioning from the junior to U23 category is a very significant step in my career, and I am excited to start racing at the next level," she said.

    "While racing in the professional category in the domestic races will definitely be a challenge, I believe that I can benefit a lot from racing harder and against more experienced riders. I am approaching this season with an open mind and reasonable goals and will be ready to enjoy this new racing experience and learn from the talented riders that I will be racing with."

    In 2014, Courtney will target US Pro XCT races and the US National Championships as well as several World Cup...

  • Scott-Swisspower team becomes Scott-Odlo

    Swedish champion Jenny Rissveds
    Article published:
    November 23, 2013, 17:10 GMT
    Cycling News

    Elite mountain bike squad signs Rissveds as its first female rider

    After 13 years of involvement, Swisspower has ended its sponsorship of the Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing Team of World champion and World Cup champion Nino Schurter. Cycling clothing maker Odlo is taking over as the new co-title sponsor, and the team will be known as Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team in 2014.

    "We are excited about this strong partnership that will accompany us towards the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. Odlo is a great brand to present. My history with them goes back to 1994," said Team Owner Thomas Frischknecht.

    "We are pleased to continue this inspiring and successful partnership, which offers mutual benefits to both of us," said Odlo CEO Jonas Ottosson. "We are passionate in everything we do, so is the Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team... . With this commitment we are not just underlining our expertise as a manufacturer of premium sportswear. This sponsorship also give us the opportunity to emphasize a close cooperation with the pros in developing outstanding products."

    Rissveds joins the team

    Swedish rising star Jenny Rissveds will join the team in 2014. The 19-year-old won two World Cup titles and the European championship in the eliminator during the 2013 season. Rissveds will become the first women on the team.  Although she was supported by Scott-Swisspower staff in the pits at World Cups in 2013, 2014 will mark the first year she is a member of the team.

    "She impressed me with a very strong racing mentality - something that is pretty unusual at her age. I believe she has it all to become a star of the scene in the very near future," said Frischknecht.

    Rissveds has no qualms about joining the otherwise all-male team. "I grew up with my brother and his friends being the only girl. It's not a problem being the only one in a men's team," said...

  • WorldTour road racer Rabon switches to mountain bike racing

    Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
    Article published:
    November 23, 2013, 20:55 GMT
    Cycling News

    Czech rider signs with Specialized Racing Factory MTB Team

    Current WorldTour road racer Frantisek Rabon is trading in his skinny tires for some fatter tires in 2014. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep team rider has signed with Specialized Racing Factory Mountain Bike Team for next season.

    "I couldn't be more thrilled to join the Specialized Racing Factory MTB Team next year," said Rabon according to his new team. "I've always loved mountain bike racing and to have the support and expertise of Specialized behind me is truly a dream come true."

    Rabon started his professional road career in 2006 with T-Mobile, which later became HTC-Highroad. The Czech super domestique signed with the Omega Pharma-QuickStep road squad in 2012, where his hard work and massive engine helped solidify him as a time trial expert.

    A three-time Czech time trial national champion as well as stage winner in the Tour of Romandie, Tour of Murcia and Tour de l'Ain, Rabon has always relished the race of truth. Coming to mountain biking for the 2014 season, Rabon will highlight numerous high-level marathon and endurance cross country events on his calendar and is anxious to explore the new chapter of his career.

    He is one of the latest casualties of the more limited opportunities for pro road racers due to there being fewer top teams for next season and therefore fewers spots for riders on those top teams.

    "The situation in road cycling is a disaster, and I did not want to go the route of what was required to get a place on a WorldTour team," Rabon told "From the first contact to signing a contract with Specialized...

  • Näf ends injury-plagued season

    Ralph Naf (BMC Mountainbike Racing Team)
    Article published:
    November 24, 2013, 17:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    BMC rider tears muscle

    For Ralph Näf, the 2013 season has been marred by injury, with the latest one happening this week when he tore one of his calf muscles while training according to The news marked the end of any further competition for the Swiss rider until the 2014 season. Although the mountain bike season had already concluded, he will have to sit out the remainder of the 'cross season.

    The BMC rider broke his collarbone in March of 2013 in a crash while at a team training camp and then underwent surgery to repair it. In that same crash, he also injured his hand, but thinking it was only sprained, he did not find out about the fracture until his collarbone had almost healed. A subsequent surgery on his hand was required in April and further delayed his return to competition.

    Not only did he have to sit out the Cape Epic, but also the World Cup races during the first part of the season. He was able to race in the latter part of the season and won the final round of the BMC Cup in Muttenz, Switzerland.

    Näf is hoping to get back on his bike as soon as possible to begin base training for the 2014 season.

  • Legendary North Shore will host first stage of 2014 BC Bike Race

    All lined up for the BC Bike Race
    Article published:
    November 24, 2013, 22:06 GMT
    Cycling News

    Host cities announced for next year's race

    The BC Bike Race announced that North Vancouver, home of the famous North Shore trails, will host the opening stage of the 2014 edition of the race.

    Going into year eight, BC Bike Race will make a slight change to its route by hosting stage 1 in North Vancouver. After three years away, the trail conditions are right to bring the event back.

    The iconic ladder bridges of the North Shore are some of the most recognizable trail features in adventure tourism today.

    "The legendary North Shore has played a big part in the development of the global mountain biking history and connecting the circle route of this history from North Vancouver to Whistler just makes sense," said BC Bike Race president Dean Payne. "We want to offer our participants the ride of their lives!"

    The North Shore is changing, under the trail stewardship of Mark Woods and the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA), the building style is new school with lots of "pump and flow". This has made the trail access much more universal and the riding experience that much better.

    Stage 2 will take place in Cumberland, stage 3 in Powell River and from there the course will remain mostly the same as the previous editions; the Sunshine Coast, Sechelt, stage 4 and 5, Squamish, stage 6 and Whistler the final day, stage 7.

    Campbell River will not be a part of the route in 2014.

    BC Bike Race will continue into its third year with the two per day enduro special segments. Details of the new course in North Vancouver will be announced in the early spring.  The race is scheduled for June 28 to July 5.

    For more information on the BC Bike Race, visit

  • Interview: Enduro World Series Founder Chris Ball on the growth of enduros, Part 1

    Tracey Moseley on her way to winning round 3 of the Enduro World Series
    Article published:
    November 27, 2013, 17:50 GMT
    Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

    Looking back at the inaugural season of the new series

    Chris Ball is the promoter of the Enduro World Series (EWS). Marking the continued rapid growth of enduro racing, the EWS held its first season in 2013 and wrapped up last month in Italy. Cyclingnews spoke with the man behind the series about how the EWS came to be, its first year, the growth of the discipline and what to expect with enduro racing in years to come.

    Part 1, below, the focuses on this year's EWS. Stay tuned for Part 2, which takes a look at UCI involvement in enduros and plans for next year's EWS.

    Cyclingnews: How did you get into the enduro sub-discipline of mountain biking?

    Chris Ball: I still ride a mountain bike a lot. After stopping competing in downhill, I found that although I was coaching downhill and working with the downhill World Cup, what I was doing in my spare time was riding my mid-travel bike a lot, and I started getting into racing enduros on my weekends off.

    I realized there was a huge community there of mountain bikers who wanted to experience the outdoors and have a bit of adventure. I found myself over a number of years, although working in downhill, riding more and more on the enduro side. It absolutely captivated me. It's very much what I do on my own bike.

    That's why it was proposed when I was working at the UCI. I felt like there was a huge area of gravity mountain biking that could develop in a wonderful way.

    CN: The UCI decided not to go the enduro route at that time, and you started the EWS independently of the UCI. The first season of the EWS is now in the books. Do you feel like it was a success and if so, why?

    CB: In many ways, we started blind. Nothing internationally had been done in enduro before. We hadn't even had a ranking with which to start our first-ever event. Many of the top riders had never raced each other in one event....

  • NICA streams Singletrack High movie for free over Thanksgiving weekend

    Gary Fisher (right) having a fun ride with NICA Board member and graphics guru, Dave Curtis (center) and NICA Executive Director Austin (left)
    Article published:
    November 27, 2013, 22:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Documentary gives glimpse into American high school bike racing

    The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) will be streaming the movie Singletrack High during the long American Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Singletrack High is a documentary about high school racing.

    "What could be better than a big bike ride before a Thanksgiving feast? How about watching Singletrack High for dessert?" said Gary Fisher, NICA Honorary Board Member and NICA Booster Club Member.

    "NICA is providing a Free Viewing of Singletrack High anytime this coming Thursday through Sunday in your own home. If you haven't yet seen the film, we hope you will take this opportunity and share the fun with your family and friends. A password is required to view the film and by completing a short survey here, you will be provided the password."

    Visit to access the survey and the movie.