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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Date published:
November 30, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • KwaZulu-Natal to host three pre-UCI MTB World Cup races

    South African National Champion Burry Stander during the Elite men's cross country rac at the UCI MTB World Cup at Cascades in Pietermaritzburg
    Article published:
    November 26, 2011, 20:02 GMT
    Cycling News

    Plenty on the calendar for South Africa in early 2012

    In the run-up to the opening 2012 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup starting in Pietermaritzburg on March 17-18, South Africa is hosting several UCI-categorized cross country races. KwaZulu-Natal will be home to no fewer than four UCI cross country events in February and March of next year.

    The first of the three events in the KZN XCO Provincial Series - at the Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park on February 18 - will be held on courses designed by Nic Floros, who already designs many of the country's top marathon and cross country tracks. Competitors are guaranteed challenging trails to test their technical skills, whilst enjoying Floros' signature flowing trails.

    The second event will be held Karkloof on March 4 while the final round will happen on March 11 in Cascades, the same area that is hosting the World Cup opener.

    All three events are within 100km of each other with Pietermaritzburg as a more or less central location for those competing in all three events.

    Furthermore, the opening round of the 2012 UCI Marathon Series will happen in Sabie on February 25. The race is also the first round of the South African national marathon series.

    And finally, some of the top World Cup racers and marathon racers are expected to stick around for the Absa Cape Epic mountain bike stage race from March 25 to April 1.

    Given the UCI status of these events, the races are bound to attract a number of riders from other provinces, as well as an international field, especially since UCI points will be on offer for the junior, U23 and elite racing categories.

    For more information on the KZN series, visit Online entries will open on December 5.

    2012 KZN XCO Provincial Series UCI Categorized events (all Cat. 2)
    February 19 - KZN XCO...

  • Stage races return to Guatamala and South Wales

    A bridge crossing in El Reto del Quetzal
    Article published:
    November 27, 2011, 21:00 GMT
    Cycling News

    El Reto del Quetzal and Black Mountains 3 Day announce 2012 dates

    Organizers announced the return of two mountain bike stages races in 2012: one in Guatamala and one in South Wales in the United Kingdom.

    The fifth edition of El Reto del Quetzal will happen March 8 to March 11, 2012. Limited to 150 entrants, the race includes a new stage and is happening on a new date. Racers will pass near Guatemalan attractions like the Volcano de Agua and Lake Atitlan.

    The second edition of the Black Mountains 3 Day will be held from June 29 to July 1, 2012 and is run by Bearded Man in the Brecon Beacons National park.

    The 2012 event will again start with a 13km evening time trial lap of the Glanusk Estate on Friday. On Saturday, racers take on a 70km route across the Black Mountains. With 2300m of vertical ascent, riders will need their climbing legs on before enjoying the rewards of some of the country's best natural singletrack. Sunday will require refreshed legs to tackle the 68km course that includes the legendary Gap route and some 1800m of climbing.

    For more information on th El Reto del Quetzal, visit

    For more information on the Black Mountains 3 Day, visit

  • BMC saves Swiss national series

    Nino Schurter (Scott - Swisspower MTB - Racing)
    Article published:
    November 29, 2011, 15:19 GMT
    Cycling News

    Company steps up to replace title sponsor of cross country series

    The future of the Swiss cross country mountain bike national series, formerly known as the Swiss Racer Bikes Cup, was in doubt when title sponsor Racer Bikes pulled out going into next season. Once news reached BMC, the bike manufacturer stepped up to assume the role of title sponsor for 2012.

    "Not having a series would have endangered Switzerland's dominance in mountain biking," said BMC's CEO Thomas Binggeli. "The MTB segment plays an important role at BMC. As a Swiss-based company, we need a racing series in order to create national and international impact."

    The national series, founded in 1994 by Andreas Seeli, has drawn top international competitors for years and there are few world or Olympic champions that have not lined up at at least one of the Swiss national series venues.

    "There is no way we could lose our most important races and threaten an important part of our development concept for domestic athletes," said Binggeli.

    BMC is also the sponsor of the team of Cadel Evans, the winner of the Tour de France. However, 2012 is not the first time the company has taken on a major role in mountain bike sponsorship. In 2011, it sponsored its first professional mountain bike team, which was built around German national champion Moritz Milatz. It also backed a development team based in the US with riders like U23 national champion Stephen Ettinger.

    "The BMC Racing Cup series will give our BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team a fantastic platform to establish itself at the world class level. We are looking forward to seven great events that we want to share with our partners and customers here in Switzerland," said Binggeli.

    The new series will be known as the BMC Racing Cup 2012 and will visit seven venues and emphasize the development of young athletes while drawing media...

  • Paez returns to TX Active-Bianchi team

    Leonardo Paez returns to the TX Active Bianchi Team for 2012
    Article published:
    November 29, 2011, 16:58 GMT
    Cycling News

    Colombian chasing 2012 Olympic dream

    Leonardo Paez is returning to the TX Active-Bianchi team in 2012. The 28-year-old Colombian rider, a marathon expert, signed a one-year contract with Felice Gimondi's Italian-based team to chase his Olympic dream, just like he did in 2008.

    In 2011, Paez finished 12th in the Olympic Test Event at Hadleigh Park in Essex, near London, and he won the Pan American Games in Tapalpa, near Guadalajara, Mexico.  He was also second in the Colombian cross country national championships.

    "I'm happy to be here again. This team is like a family for me," said Paez. "I want to come back stronger than before, to perform well at the 2012 London Games and above all to win the marathon world championships".

    TX Active-Bianchi's President Felice Gimondi is delighted with Paez's return. "Paez, together with Italian Tony Longo, will assure us a significant participation in the marathon events to make our team much stronger and more visible. The Colombian rider can play his cards at the world championships, too."

    Paez previously rode for TX Active-Bianchi from 2008 to 2010. During this period, he claimed relevant victories including a marathon World Cup (2008), Colombian cross country national championship (2008 and 2009) and the final ranking of the Internazionali d'Italia (2009).

    In 2012, he will race on the new Bianchi Methanol 29 SL model.

  • Rising star Reid joins Nedbank Team 360Life

     James Reid, one of South Africa's brightest talents, joins Nedbank 360Life for 2012.
    Article published:
    November 29, 2011, 18:58 GMT
    Cycling News

    South African U23 racer will focus on cross country racing

    James Reid, one of South Africa's brightest young bicycle racing talents, has been snapped up by the professional squad Nedbank Team 360Life for 2012. Reid joins two of South Africa's most accomplished professional racers, Kevin Evans and David George, on a team that's had a successful first year in 2011.

    Racing in his first year as an under 23, Reid captured the 2011 African Continental cross country title and 2011 South African National Series cross country title, a rare achievement for a rider fresh out of the junior ranks. In 2010, Reid finished 11th at the junior cross country world championships in Canada.

    "James is a very exciting 19-year-old, who has excelled at his preferred discipline, cross country racing. The ability of Nedbank Team 360Life to integrate him into an already existing team of two of South Africa's top professional cyclists is critical in harnessing his current abilities and enabling his future success within the sport," said Lance Blumeris, Managing Director of Nedgroup Life.

    "Being able to learn from David and Kevin ordinarily would take years and given the limited number of world class mountain bikers in South Africa, the timing of being able to invest in James was perfect."

    Reid will continue to focus on cross country racing. George, winner of the 2011 MTN National Marathon Series and Evans, a four-time South African marathon champion, will continue to team up with a key focus on marathons and stage races in 2012, including their quest to be the first South African team to win the Cape Epic,

    "For me, Olympic cross country racing will still be the main focus. I think that at my age I need to be careful and stay away from the long distance marathon and stage races as it will compromise the...

  • Athertons part ways with Commencal

    The Athertons make history at the World Cup in Andorra when all three siblings won a race.
    Article published:
    November 29, 2011, 22:17 GMT
    Cycling News

    Siblings Gee, Rachel and Dan celebrate five years with team

    For five years, the names Commencal and Atherton were synonymous, but in 2012, the parties will go their separate ways. During their partnership, the three Atherton siblings, riding as Team Commencal, netted over 50 victories and multiple world titles.

    "We're sad to be saying goodbye to Max and the Commencal brand but we have to be happy with what we have achieved together and strive to continue our individual success stories along different paths," said the Athertons' Team Director Dan Brown.

    "Max and his team have supported us amazingly over the last five years and we wish them all the best in the future. Although we will not be working alongside the brand anymore, you can rest assured that we will remain great friends and look back on the partnership very fondly."

    Some of the partnership's most memorable occasions included the triple World Cup win - one race by each sibling - in Andorra in 2008 and the double world championship in Val di Sole, Italy, in 2008

    Over the next five weeks, the Gee, Rachel and Dan Atherton have asked readers to pick their favorite images of the Commencal team riders from the past five years. They can do so on

    The five most popular photographs will be compiled into a slideshow, accompanied by personal accounts of the story behind each of them. Whether this is the joy of the good times, the sacrifices required or simply how much fun was had, the images and stories will chronicle the special relationship between Commencal and Atherton Racing.

    The Athertons have yet to announce their future team plans, but said they are looking forward to another season of...

  • Video: Fairclough signs with Scott11

    Brendan Fairclough (Great Britain)
    Article published:
    November 30, 2011, 16:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    After knee surgery, British downhiller ready for 2012 season

    Scott11 signed downhiller Brendan Fairclough for the 2012 season. Fairclough is recognized as a well rounded rider on the international downhill circuit with a unique style that has captivated many fans and made him a regular top 10 racer. He makes the move from the Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz team.

    "I'm happy to have the opportunity to join Scott11 for the 2012 and 2013 seasons," said Fairclough. "It's going to be a big change from the last few years since I'll now act as the lead rider on the team, but it's a role I feel I am ready to take up and feel it's going to be good for me in my fight for a championship... I can't wait to get stuck into the season."

    At the most recent world championships in Champery, Switzerland, Fairclough finished fourth despite racing with a torn ACL in his knee.

    He has featured in multiple mountain bike films such as Clay Porter's 3 Minute Gaps and Anthill Films' Follow Me. Now, after having undergone reconstructive knee surgery, Fairclough is ready to come back next season to continue working with top bike film producers and to take on the UCI World Cup downhill series with a new knee and a new bike.

    "With Brendan on board, we can finally play a major role in the men's field," said Scott11 Team Manager Claudio Caluori. "The whole team is totally excited and will work flat out to get Brendan where Floriane Pugin has been since joining Scott11: On that podium!"

    Fairclough will race the Scott Gambler and Voltage FR bikes.

  • Trans Zollernalb dates set for 2012

    Robert Mennen (Topeak Ergon) celebrates overall victory at the Trans Zollernalb
    Article published:
    November 30, 2011, 20:23 GMT
    Cycling News

    Registration opens in December

    The Trans Zollernalb organizers have preparations underway for the third edition of the mountain bike stage race which has been set for September 21-23, 2012. The three-day race crosses the Schwäbische Alb in Germany.

    Robert Mennen and Ann-Kathrin Hellstern were crowned as overall winners in 2011.

    The 2011 edition of the race almost sold out at its 600-rider limit, and registration for the 2012 edition will open on December 1.

    For more information, visit

    Trans Zollernalb 2012
    September 21: Stage 1 - Haigerloch-Bad Imnau - Balingen
    September 22: Stage 2 - Balingen - Albstadt
    September 23: Stage 3 - Albstadt-Hechingen