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MTB News & Racing Round-up, Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Date published:
October 30, 2013, 0:00 GMT
  • Sauser and Yamamoto among favorites for Brasil Ride

    Tent city at the Brasil Ride
    Article published:
    October 19, 2013, 15:33 BST
    Cycling News

    Week-long mountain bike stage race kicks off today

    The fourth edition of the Brasil Ride mountain bike stage race starts today in the Chapada Diamantina, State of Bahia in Brasil. Racers will cover 565km during seven days, including 12,240m of climbing.

    Current marathon world champion and three-time Cape Epic champion Christoph Sauser heads the list of starters along with his teammate Kohei Yamamoto, the recent winner of the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge.

    They will be challenged by Luis Leao Pinto & Abraao Azevedo (Viana do Castelo), Bart Brentjens & Paulo Fritas (Brentjens MTB Team), Hans Becking & Jiri Novak (Superior-Brentjens MTB Team), Steffen Thum & Simon Gegenheimer (Ultra Sports Rose Racing Team) and Roel Paulissen & Johann Pallhuber (RH

    In the women's race, Rebecca Rusch & Selene Yeager (Specailized/Team CF) are among the favorites.

    Mateus Ferraz & Ivonne Kraft and Annabella Stropparo & Piero Pellegrini will be among those to watch in the mixed category.

    This year, the Brasil Ride is running as a categorized as a UCI S2 stage race. Nearly 70 percent of the race's trails are new for 2013, but organizers are keeping classic stages, like the day 1 prologue around the city of Mucuge and the day 3 cross country in the city of Rio de Contas.

    The last stage of the race, which will cover 68km, will double as the Bahia state marathon championships.

    Brasil Ride also attracts famous amateur competitors. South African Songo Fipaza, founder of the charity with Sauser, will ride with Helen Kinuthia, an athlete and cycling activist from Kenya. She runs two social projects focused on introducing and developing the cycling culture in her country.

    On the...

  • Strong international field set for Cape Pioneer Trek showdown

    Nico Bell (front) and Gawie Combrinck of Team Westvaal Bells Cycling, pictured here on their way to overall victory last year, are the favourites for the men's title at the 2013 Cape Pioneer Trek, which starts near Oudtshoorn on Sunday.
    Article published:
    October 19, 2013, 21:03 BST
    Cycling News

    Scheurmans, Langvad and Suss among Europeans racing in South Africa

    The 2013 Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race that starts on Sunday near Oudtshoorn in South Africa's Western Cape Province will celebrate its fifth edition with its strongest racing field yet.

    Both the men's and women's categories have attracted riders that have excelled at international level in marathons and stage races, including multiple current and former national, continental and world champions, setting the scene for seven days of thrilling podium battles.

    Starting the race as men's division favourites are the Westvaal Bells Cycling duo of Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck, the 2012 champions. Both confirmed their good form last Saturday when they finished second and third respectively at the MTN Ride Crater Cruise, the final round of the national marathon series. Bell's second place finish there also secured him the 2013 MTN South African Marathon Series title.

    There's more depth than ever before in the men's field and Bell and Combrinck will be wary of, among others, the Scott Factory Racing team comprising Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes; the Asrin Cycling team of James Reid and Jens Scheurmans; Team RE:CM's Erik Kleinhans and Waylon Woolcock; and FedGroup Itec's Brandon Stewart and Konny Looser.

    Buys and Beukes were sixth overall and the top African team at the 2013 Cape Epic, while Reid, the current South African marathon champion, will have a strong teammate in Scheurmans, a 20-year-old Belgian cross country specialist. The RE:CM pair of Woolcock and Kleinhans showed they're in good form at last Saturday's Crater Cruise marathon, where Woolcock took the win and Kleinhans was fifth.

    Stewart, one of the most experienced stage racers in the world, with stage wins in African, European and North American races and Looser, a...

  • Paez extends contract with TX Active-Bianchi

    TX Active-Bianchi’s President Felice Gimondi, team manager Massimo Ghirotto and Leonardo Paez renewing their agreement
    Article published:
    October 20, 2013, 20:24 BST
    Cycling News

    Colombian continues with Italian team

    Leonardo Paez has extended his contract with TX Active-Bianchi until the end of 2014. The 31-year-old Colombian mountain biker has been with the team since 2008, except in 2011.

    "We're really satisfied that Paez signed for another season with us. In 2013, he was the master of marathon races. We're sure he will give us new joys, paired with Tony Longo," TX Active-Bianchi's team manager Massimo Ghirotto said.

    2013 season stats confirmed Paez and Longo were a successful pair. Marathon Worlds bronze medallist in June, Paez brought home prestigious wins like those at Sellaronda Hero in Selva Val Gardena and Gimondibike in Iseo, along with the GF del Durello, Da piazza a piazza, GF Costa degli Etruschi, Atestina Superbike, 100 km dei Forti, Plan de Corones Marathon, Sauze Mountain Classic and GF Troi Trek while Longo clinched seven victories.

    "I'm really happy I'll go on racing for the Bianchi team, my second family: with them, I shared many winning days in 2013 and previously," said Paez. "I will be pursuing big goals for 2014, with the marathon world championships as my top priority."

  • Montoya, Wells and Grant among favorites at La Ruta

    Men's leader Paolo Montoya at the front
    Article published:
    October 24, 2013, 15:30 BST
    Cycling News

    Mata hopes to defend title in Costa Rica

    Several past champions are back in Costa Rica to contend for the win at La Ruta de los Conquistadores, which started this morning. Among them are Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) Paolo Montoya (Frijoles Los Tierniticos-Bicicletas Focus Team) and Pua Mata (Sho-Air/Cannondale).

    Costa Rican Montoya is the defending champion from 2012. "I feel very confident about my training. Physically I feel great, and I have improved my overall training time. I feel stronger and more capable to conquer the climbing. Right now I'm focused and serene."

    2011 La Ruta winner Wells of the United States is more confident going into this year's edition since it will be his third time at the race. He said knows each stage almost by heart.

    "The hardest part is crossing the train track bridges in the third day. I don't like it at all, and last year it was raining really hard, it was really horrible. If I could take another route I would, even if it was longer," said Wells.

    Aside from Montoya, Costa Rica will be represented by Dennis Porras, Federico Ramirez, Deiber Esquivel, Jose Montoya, Moises Hernandez, Andrey Fonseca and Marconi Duran. American Alex Grant, who has finished second three times in past editions, and German Markus Bauer are two other favorites to watch.

    In the women's race, Mata is hoping to defend her title from 2012. "This year, I'm here to enjoy it all - the people and every moment, I will race from my heart, the fastest and strongest I can, always caring for my safety to race intelligently," said Mata.

    She will battle Costa Rican women Nancy Amores, Natalia Navarro and Adriana Rojas as well as international racers Jame Ryndbrant, Michelle Zimmerman and Cheryl Sorson. The latter is the women's winner of the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series.

    437 mountain bikers took to the start of La Ruta this morning. They face 307km of...

  • Cape Epic announces 2014 route

    Jaroslav Kulhavy
    Article published:
    October 29, 2013, 18:50 GMT
    Cycling News

    New territory for 11th edition of popular mountain bike stage race

    Organizers announced the route for the 11th edition of the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, to be held from March 23 to March 30, 2014. Twelve hundred international and local racers will take on a demanding 718km route with 14,850m of climbing in the Western Cape of South Africa.

    The route, which changes significantly each year, will cover vast distances of virgin territory, not previously visited by the race. With its challenging and exhilarating landscapes, the stage locations of Robertson, Greyton and Oak Valley Wine Estate await riders before they again finish at the Lourensford Wine Estate as has been tradition since 2007.

    "We aim to offer participants from around the world an awesome experience that showcases the best that our beautiful country has to offer," said Kevin Vermaak, founder and director of the Cape Epic:

    "We want different routes, with suitable technical and challenging riding, that take the riders to new towns whilst at the same time giving the riders the most beautiful and remote scenery, and with wild animals to boot. Without the incredible support of Cape Nature Conservation, this would not be possible as they give us access to their reserves."

    Just finishing the race is a challenge for many participants although top riders battle it out every stage. Many World Cup riders use the early season race for training purposes. Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized) won the 2013 edition of the Cape Epic. Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williamson (Energas) won the women's category.

    Prologue: Meerendal Wine Estate, 23km with 700m of climbing

    The 2014 race will start at Meerendal Wine Estate, on the doorstep of Cape Town. Riders will tackle the purpose built network of trails through protected Renosterveld bush. With some surprising new twists there are always the dependable views of Cape Town, Robben...

  • Gallery: First Crocodile Trophy victory for Australia in eight years

    Jiri Krivanek fights hard to defend his third spot – here in the lead group into Mount Mulligan during stage four; Mark Frendo, Mario Faerberboeck and Cory Wallace hanging on.
    Article published:
    October 30, 2013, 2:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Frendo holds off challenge from foreign pros

    The 2013 Crocodile Trophy wrapped up on Sunday on Cooktown's Grassy Hill, and for the first time in eight years an Australian claimed the win. Mark Frendo from Brisbane celebrated victory after nine days, 900km and more than 15,000m of elevation and finishing in 30:40:17, ahead of the Canadian Cory Wallace and Jiri Krivanek from the Czech Republic.

    The race started in Cairns on October 19 and took its riders across the Atherton Tablelands to historic mining towns deep in the Australian Outback. The race courses throughout the nine-day event included singletrack in Smithfield, marathon races through rain forests, across Outback Highways and rough mining trails and the 2013 edition also included a time trial stage on day seven. Sandy terrain, corrugated roads, narrow and flowing singletrails, gruelling climbs and fast descends - the Crocodile Trophy showcased the best mountain bike trails that Far North Queensland has to offer.

    More than 15 nations were represented, and participants included pro road and mountain bike racers as well as passionate amateurs, all of whom had the same goal: to race more than 900km and climb over 15,000m of elevation to experience the Australian Outback in the saddle of their bikes.

    After the first training rides together in Cairns and as a newcomer to the mountain bike stage racing scene, Frendo was labelled as the "dark horse", and he delivered on his status from day one.

    Frendo won the first two stages - first the multi-lap race at Smithfield's MTB Park near Cairns and then the marathon stage 2 up towards the Atherton Tablelands and Lake Tinaroo.

    "I went into this race confidently - competing alongside Cory Wallace at the Mongolia Challenge, I knew what it takes to race at his level," said the 28-year old rider from Brisbane. The mechanical engineer had to defend his early race lead in the final days against none other that the Canadian marathon national champion and Mongolia Challenge winner...

  • Specialized Racing team signs Kate Courtney

    Kate Courtney representing the US at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in South Africa
    Article published:
    October 30, 2013, 18:53 GMT
    Cycling News

    Former high school racer makes leap to elite MTB squad

    The Specialized Racing elite cross country mountain bike team has signed Kate Courtney to its roster for 2014. The US junior national champion will make the leap to her new team at the same time that she moves into the under 23 ranks.

    A lifelong cyclist, Courtney began dedicating herself to racing in the NICA high school league where she joined her school's team and started achieving success almost immediately. This year, she won the Mont-Sainte-Anne junior World Cup and finished sixth at the recent world championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

    "I am honored and excited to be joining the Specialized Racing family," said Courtney.

    "My relationship with Specialized started when I got my first red Specialized mountain bike at age eight. Since then, I have always been on a Specialized bike. With the support of this team behind me, I hope to take my racing to the next level as I transition into the U23 category."

    Courtney makes the move from the Whole Athlete-Specialized Racing team.

    Having just won the 2013 collegiate Division 1 cross country and short track titles for Stanford University this past weekend, next year is shaping up to be even better for the young star.

    Tyler Frasca from Specialized's Sports Marketing said. "We're extremely excited to work with Kate. Her positive attitude and determination on and off the bike made her the girl to beat in 2013, and...

  • Former mountain bike pros excel at Xterra Worlds

    Ruben Ruzafa on his mountain bike
    Article published:
    October 30, 2013, 19:45 GMT
    Cycling News

    Ruzafa wins men's title for second time

    Several former pro mountain bike racers excelled at the recent Xterra World Championships in Maui, Hawaii last weekend.  Chief among them was Ruben Ruzafa, who powered to his second-ever Xterra title. The 29-year-old Spaniard won his first title in 2008, was injured just before the 2009 edition, then spent the intervening time racing his mountain bike before returning to off-road triathlons.

    The racers competed on a course with a 1.6km swim, a 32km mountain bike ride and a 10km trail run. Temperatures were about 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Ruzafa came out of the swim more than two minutes off the lead pace, but he made it all up and more on the bike, getting the fastest split of 1:30:11. Going into the run, he had a 45-second lead to defend, and he extended it to a final advantage of one minute and 27 seconds. His finishing time was 2:34:34 and for his efforts, he won $20,000.

    Crossing the finish line, Ruzafa raised his arms to the sky in tribute to both his late teammate and friend Iñaki Lejarreta, a pro mountain biker who was killed last winter while training on his road bike, and to his father, who died away after a battle with cancer two years ago.

    "Everything turned out perfect, without problems and feeling good during all segments," said Ruzafa.

    "During the swim, I stayed in a group, losing the expected time. On the bike, I felt great and powerful and was not taking risks. When I passed the two leaders, the last long downhill was still remaining, and I managed to reach the transition alone. The run was tough, I set short goals and tried to keep my stride. I didn't feel like I was winning until the beach, and from there on, it was a about enjoying it!"

    Ruzafa said he had been dreaming of another world title since 2008. "During recent years, my performance hasn't been as expected, together with the bad moments...