Trek / VW Team Cape Epic Diary: Counting down

After a successful training camp and photography session in Moab, Utah last weekend, the Trek-VW...

After a successful training camp and photography session in Moab, Utah last weekend, the Trek-VW team is now headed across the globe to Cape Town, South Africa. The red sand of Moab will hopefully bring good luck to the two teams and two staff members we are sending to the Cape Epic stage race. It's going to be an abrupt start to a long season, especially for our new staffers, but we're hoping the effort is rewarded with some good results, great fitness, and amazing stories.

Cape Epic is the flagship event of a new generation of epic, multi-day mountain bike races. It traverses the South African countryside from Knysna to Cape Town, over the course of eight days. Stages cover 100km or so per day, and the terrain is about as rugged and beautiful as any on earth.

Why have we decided to send our athletes thousands of miles away to race in distant lands? No, it's not because we simply want to banish them from the team trailer for a few weeks. Rather, we decided that the opportunity was ripe for our team to make a big splash in this category of racing. We have riders that do exceptionally well in many other categories of off-road racing: Chris Eatough dominates the 100 mile and 24-hour endurance scene; Brian and Jenny Smith are regulars on the podium in Xterra Off-Road Triathlon; Jeremiah Bishop is contending for the US Olympic selection in World Cup cross-country; Susan Haywood has taken wins in stage races including El Reto Guatemala, TransRockies, and La Ruta de los Conquistadores.

Read the complete diary entry.

English and Van Der Spiegel crowned Australian 24 hour solo national champions

By Dan McKay in Canberra

For the second consecutive year, the Australian Solo National 24 hour Championships were held in Canberra's Mt Majura Pine forest. The twisting, dusty trails provided a perfect venue for what was to be an intensely fought battle last weekend for the coveted green and gold jerseys - not to mention also a trip to the 24 hours of Adrenalin World Championships in Canada coming in July.

The women's field included experienced 24-hour racer and current 24 hour National Champion Katrin Van Der Spiegel (Clarence Street Cyclery) along with the winner of the recent Scott 24 hour Alexandra Kiendl (Kona) and local hopeful Claire Graydon.

The men's field was missing current 24 hour National Champion Andrew Bell, who was busy celebrating a new arrival to his family, but was stacked with strong contenders. John Claxton (Giant) was back to better his second place in last year's nationals along with third placed Daniel Mackay (Giant) Also showing strong form was BMC rider Jason English, 24 hours of Adrenalin Champion (in 20-25 years-old category) Joel Donney, and fourth place finisher at the 2006 Scott 24 hour solo, Mark Fenner.

As the race progressed, the fast pace began to whittle down the lead bunch. Eventually, at the front, English and Claxton were left to trade leads back and forth throughout the night with the gap never more than a few minutes. After the sun rose, an exhausted Claxton made an error which ended in a spectacular high speed crash. This opened the door for English to gain the upper hand and he gradually opened a lead. English finished the race with a win, two laps ahead of Claxton with Mackay 19 minutes further back. English completed 47 laps or 428 kilometres (266 miles) in his 24 hours of racing.

In the women's race, Katrin Van Der Spiegel gained an early advantage with a good start and was never seriously challenged. Throughout the race she continued to build her lead and she finished three laps ahead of Alexandra Kiendl. In fact, her 38 laps in a little over 24 hours would have put her in ninth overall - a spectacular performance.

Behind Van Der Spiegel, the race for second and third was fought between the experienced Kiendl and local heroine Claire Graydon. Consistent performances by both riders placed Kiendl four laps ahead of Graydon.

See full coverage of the Australian 24 hour solo national championships.

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