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MTB News & racing round-up for August 4, 2005
Edited by Steve Medcroft
Welcome to our regular round-up of what's happening in the dirt. Feel free to send feedback, news and gossip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rocky Mountaineers take on the Alps
By Steve Medcroft
The eighth adidas Bike Transalp Challenge wrapped up in Jesolo, Italy last week. The UCI-accredited endurance stage race pitted unsupported teams of two racers (who must stay within two minutes of each other through all race checkpoints) over eight stages for more than six hundred kilometres of trails and over 15,000 meters of climbing.
Canadian manufacturer Rocky Mountain Bicycles sent three teams to the event. German-based Rocky Mountain riders Karl Platt and Carsten Bresser won the men’s overall competition, Andreas Hestler and Alison Sydor took second in the mixed category and the women’s team of Gretchen Reeves and Leslie Tomlinson fell to illness and had to withdraw.
But attending the event was as much about personal challenge as getting race results says former Canadian national champion, cross-country world champion and Olympic silver medalist Alison Sydor. “Our team has a bit of history with this race. It was Gretchen and Leslie’s fourth time. Karl and Carsten have done it a few times. Andreas has done Trans Rockies. I’ve been racing for quite a long time and there’s not a lot I haven’t done so I was excited for the personal challenge of racing what amounts to eight marathons in a row.”
And it was a challenge. Sydor talked to her team-mates, studied past results and looked back at her stage racing experience on the road in events like the Tour de France Feminin or the women’s Giro to prepare but, she says, she may have underestimated just how hard the race would be. “It was extraordinarily hard. We raced World Cup pace four to five hours a day. We rode some of the longest, steepest climbs I’ve never seen; a lot of singletrack and rough, bumpy descents. Every time you’d come out onto a road, everyone would go like they were in a road race. Every day was tough. On the last day alone, our group averaged 31.5km per hour.”
The dynamic of racing in a duo team was new to Sydor as well. “The idea of staying with a partner adds a whole different dynamic and sporting aspect to racing,” she says. “Andreas and I know each other well and have ridden a lot together and we have complementary strengths but it was a constant game to work together to maximise our strengths and minimise our weaknesses.”
Sydor says the challenge of depending on, and being dependent to, another rider had a surprising payoff. “I had never ridden with one person for so many hours and I came to trust him more than I’ve ever learned to trust any other rider. It was the same with all the riders. You got to make friends with people you were competing against.” Sydor says the camaraderie was uplifting. “It was a motivating and stimulating environment.”
The main highlight for Sydor was the race’s backdrop though. “The Alps are so different from any mountains in North America,” she says. “The people here have an access to the high country we never see. We’d climb for hours up a gravel road in the granny gear only to find old people in a café cheering us on at the top. It was amazing.”
And when you got to the top, “It was impossible not to stop to look around.”
Sydor says she’d love to do races like the Transalp Challenge again. “It was such a different world from cross country and it challenged me as an athlete. It was one of the most positive racing experiences in my life; a chance to be with people who are so positive about the sport, about mountain biking, and race in such beautiful scenery.”
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rocky Mountain
European Mountain Bike Championships
By Steve Medcroft
Europe held its mountain bike championships last weekend providing an opportunity for Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle to snap up yet another title jersey for her collection. Newly crowned Polish National Champion Maja Wzoslzowska fought to stay in contact with Dahle over the six-lap damp and muddy course in Kluisbergen, Belgium but really, can anyone beat Gunn-Rita in a championship race?
Frenchman Jean-Christoph Peraud took the men’s cross-country title. Jerseys were also awarded for juniors and for the team relay (in which 13 countries competed).
For results and pictures, click here.
Chris Eatough’s Trek Top Fuel 110
By Steve Medcroft
After a 6:59:48 finish in the Wilderness 101, a 101-mile endurance race in Central Pennsylvania mountain country, Chris Eatough sat on a foldaway camping chair entering an inventory of all the food and drink he consumed for his training log. After watching him glide over a rocky downhill out on the course and power the final flat three miles of the race, it’s easy to understand why Eatough is so successful at endurance racing; he can flat out hammer full-on for more hours than a normal person spends sitting in a cubicle at work.
Propped against a post five feet away from him at the Wilderness 101 finish was the machine that carried him up and down the mountains around State College, PA, (home of Penn State University) that day. The Trek Top Fuel, made with Trek’s 110 OCLV frame materials, is basically the production model, Eatough says. “This is the stock full-suspension frame with the carbon front and rear triangle and carbon rocker arm.”
Eatough runs Rock Shox Ario rear shock. “I get about three inches of travel. There are actually three setting that I use while I’m riding. In the fully-open setting I get a plush rear shock for the rockier sections. The fully closed setting is basically a lockout for the road sections or for sprinting. And then there’s kind of an in between setting, the motion control damping setting. The shock is still active on a bumpy trail but there’s very little pedal-induced bob.”
Greg Minnaar interview
By Steve Medcroft
When South African Greg Minnaar (Team G-Cross Honda) straddled his custom-made Honda RN01 in the downhill start house at the Angel Fire, New Mexico World Cup round, he knew he was in a position to seal the World Cup points series. All he needed was a solid run and a reasonable placing.
Australian Jared Graves, who had beaten Minnaar in the semi by 2.29 seconds, had set the fastest time thus far. Minnaar started off fast, picking his lines and pedaling for speed where he could. As he passed under the intermediate timing mark, he was 0.49 seconds behind and said later that he felt he needed to make up time.
He took chances through the remainder of the run and only after turning to look at the timing board at the bottom of the course did he know that he had overtaken Graves by two-tenths of a second and finally locked up the World Cup series.
We caught up with Minnaar a week later, as he was preparing for downhill competition in Sandpointe, Idaho (Schweitzer Mountain Resort NORBA, July 17,2005 - a race in which Minnaar came second to countryman Andrew Neethling).
Cyclingnews: You won Angel Fire by 0.22 seconds. Your split at the top of the course put you behind Jared Graves. What did you do to make the difference?
Greg Minnaar: At Angel Fire, I felt that I hadn't ridden well enough to be the fastest in the top section. Graves was really fast in training and in the semi finals and I really wanted the World Cup title over and done with so I had to expand myself. I pedalled a lot and took more risks down the bottom than maybe I should have. It was good to win.
See the complete interview here.
Wilderness 101 – Eatough breaks 7 hours
The 2005 Wilderness 101 proved to be the most competitive running to date for the epic mountain bike event that covers 101 miles of trails and forest roads in Pennsylvania’s beautiful mountains.
The race started at 7am in Coburn, Penn. when promoter Chris Scott roused the racers from their tents by running through the campsite banging the event’s ceremonial gong.
The 101 has been five time 24 hours of Adrenalin World Champion Chris Eatough’s (Trek/VW) final test before heading off to Canada to defend his title in September. This year it was much more then that. It was a rematch for many of the US’s top 24 hr hot rod’s. Eatough had suffered from nutritional issues in his most recent 24 hr race, the NORBA 24 hr National Championships in May. His body shut down and he was forced to withdraw from the event. This opened the door for Gary Fisher rider Cameron Chambers first National Title. Cameron took his momentum to West Virginia’s signature 24 hr race, the 24 hrs of Big Bear one month later, only to have his winning ways ended by a local racer Ernesto Marenchin. (Speedgoat). The Big Bear event took down another top contender- Michigan’s Mark Hendershot (Santa Cruz Syndicate), a proven top 3 finisher in any ultra event. Big Bear was also the coming out for Steve Schwarz (Independent Fabrications) who pulled off a big 2nd place ride.
See the complete race report, results and pictures here.
August racing preview
Cyclingnews' Les Clarke took a look at the racing calendar to write an August preview and found some exciting mountain-biking along with all the latter-season road racing.
With the World Cup XC circuit taking a rest during August, the NORBA series steps up another gear with three events over the month. With Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) trading blows at the top of the leaderboard, there are plenty of points up for grabs at a time when many racers are starting to feel the effects of a pretty busy schedule.
Both these riders will want to come away with a big haul of points to secure victory; and with JHK carrying good form into the tail end of the NORBA series. But Canadian National Champ Kabush won't let him get away with an easy win. In the women's field, Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Womens MTB Team) looks to be the form rider with three events remaining and may upset more fancied rivals if she continues her winning ways.
US nominations for MTB worlds
USA Cycling has announced automatic qualifiers for the 2005 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Livigno, Italy August 31 to September 4. Twenty-five riders in several disciplines and categories made the initial cut to represent the United States at the annual world-class championship event while further discretionary selections will be announced on August 5.
Earning automatic selections for the elite men’s cross country event are Adam Craig (Bend, Ore.) and Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.). Craig earned his nomination with several top-ten finishes in UCI World Cup events this season including a pair of fourth-place finishes at the stops in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec and Balneario Camboriu, Brazil earlier this summer. Horgan-Kobelski, the reigning U.S. National Champion, qualified as the top American in the latest Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series standings. Horgan-Kobelski currently sits in second behind Canadian Geoff Kabush.
Six elite women cross country riders also got the nod as Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass.), Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.), Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.), Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Sue Haywood (Davis, W. Va.) met the automatic selection criteria.
McConneloug’s consistency at world cup events in which she rode to three top-five finishes solidified her spot on the team. With fifth-place efforts in Houffalize, Belgium, Willengen, Germany and Mont-Sainte-Anne, McConneloug is currently ranked fifth in the overall world cup standings and has the most international experience this year amongst the nominees.
Koerber, Vanlandingham, and Dunlap all share top-five finishes in world cups as well as Koerber and Vanlandingham earned fourth-place finishes in the Mont-Sainte-Anne and Angel Fire, N.M. world cups respectively. Dunlap’s fifth-place ride in Angel Fire proves the two-time Olympian and 2001 World Champion still has the talent in the final year of her storied career as a professional cyclist.
Emmett is ranked 10th in the overall UCI World Cup standings, thus earning an invitation to Italy while Haywood earned her spot as the current leader of the Shimano NORBA National Mountain Bike Series.
In the U23 ranks, brothers Sam and Andy Schultz (Missoula, Mont.) and Nick Waite (Davis, W. Va.) have been officially selected for the world championships based on top-30 finishes amongst the professional field at world cup events. Sam Schultz placed 17th at the world cup in Angel Fire while Waite and Andy Schultz placed 26th and 28th respectively.
Colin Cares (Boulder, Colo.) earned the sole automatic nomination in the junior men’s cross country category as the points leader in the NORBA national series thanks to three wins on the circuit already this year.
Danae York (Indio, Calif.) and Chloe Forsman (Boulder, Colo.) will represent the junior women’s cross country category as each rider automatically qualified. York’s lead in the NORBA series landed her the nomination while Forsman swept the last three world championship selection events in Deer Valley, Utah, Sandpoint, Idaho and Aspen, Colo.
A talented crop of 11 gravity riders also qualified for the world championships including several medal hopefuls.
In the elite men’s four-cross category, Brian Lopes (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.), Kyle Strait (Redlands, Calif.), Robin Baloochi (San Diego, Calif.), Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif.) and Rich Houseman (Temecula, Calif.) all earned automatic nominations. Lopes has pieced together an impressive season this far with world cup victories in Schladming, Austria and Angel Fire and a fourth-place finish at the world cup opener in Vigo, Spain. Currently, Lopes leads the overall world cup standings with just two rounds remaining.
With a world championship medal already to his credit with a third-place effort in the junior men’s downhill last year in Les Gets, France, Strait earned a nomination as one of the top-three Americans in the world cup rankings along with Baloochi.
Warren and Houseman are the top-two Americans in the overall NORBA national series standings and therefore earned bids to worlds.
After a season plagued with injury and despite not meeting any of USA Cycling’s automatic qualification criteria, Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.) also earns an invitation under a UCI special provision as the defending elite men’s 4-cross world champion.
The elite women’s four-cross pool is also filled with potential medalists as Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash.), Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.) will head to Italy. Kintner and Llanes both medaled at last year’s world championships with a silver and bronze respectively and are both enjoying successful seasons in 2005. Kintner’s two world cup wins in Vigo and Mont-Sainte-Anne confirmed her spot on this year’s squad while Llanes rode to a fourth place finish in Angel Fire to make the team.
With two second place performances on the NORBA circuit this season in Deer Valley and Sandpoint, Buhl is the leader of the overall NORBA series standings.
Cody Warren also automatically qualified to ride the elite men’s downhill event as the top American in the NORBA series standings in fifth place. Warren is also the only gravity rider to earn an automatic nomination to both the 4-cross and downhill events.
The elite women’s downhill will feature Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.) who automatically qualified with two top-five world cup performances, placing third in Vigo and fifth in Angel Fire.
Finally, Travis Bond (Chattanooga, Tenn.) completes the list of automatic qualifiers in the junior men’s downhill category. Bond is the current leader in the NORBA series standings.
The final U.S. squad for the 2005 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships will be announced on August 5.
U.S. Automatic Nominations:
Elite Women Cross Country: Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass.), Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.), Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.), Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Susan Haywood (Davis, W. Va.).
U23 Men Cross Country: Sam Schultz (Missoula, Mont.), Nick Waite (Davis, W. Va.), Andy Schultz (Missoula, Mont.).
Junior Men Cross Country: Colin Cares (Boulder, Colo.).
Junior Women Cross Country: Danae York (Indio, Calif.), Chloe Forsman (Boulder, Colo.).
Elite Men Downhill: Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif.).
Elite Women Downhill: Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.).
Junior Men Downhill: Travis Bond (Chattanooga, Tenn.).
Elite Men 4-Cross: Brian Lopes (Trabuco Canyon, Calif.), Kyle Strait (Redlands, Calif.), Robin Baloochi (San Diego, Calif.), Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif.), Rich Houseman (Temecula, Calif.).
Elite Women 4-Cross: Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash.), Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.), Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.).
2005 'cross nationals head to Providence, R.I
USA Cycling has announced details of the 2005 Cyclo-cross National Championships in Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I. on December 9-11.
After two consecutive years in Portland, Ore., USA Cycling’s annual championship shifts to a much anticipated east coast location for the first time since 2001 when Baltimore, Md. hosted the event.
“As America’s most up-and-coming city, Providence is a natural to host the national championships of one of America’s most up-and-coming sports,” said Mayor David N. Cicilline. “I wholeheartedly welcome the hundreds of cyclists and fans who will converge on Roger Williams Park, and I look forward to spectacular competition against a beautiful New England winter backdrop.”
2005 also marks the first time in seven years that the cyclo-cross hotbed of New England has hosted the national championships.
“We had an extensive search for a venue that lasted more than a year,” said Tom Stevens, race director. “After looking at seven venues, we picked Providence. We feel this park will provide perhaps the best course for both riders and spectators.”
Crocodile Trophy rider James Grant dies in MTB enduro
By John Stevenson
Mountain biker, orienteer and adventure racer James Grant, 25, has died of a suspected heart attack in Sunday's Geelong MTB Club Ballan six-hour mountain bike race.
According to Geelong MTB Club president Mark Barends, James Grant was reported to have been hyperventilating on the second lap of the race and had carried on after recovering, but then collapsed a short time later. He was initially attended by paramedics who had been competing in the event, and was quickly reached by ambulance officers. Barends said he had called for assistance after the initial report of a rider in trouble and an ambulance had arrived from nearby Bacchus Marsh some 15 minutes later.
Paramedics and ambulance officers administered CPR for some time, but were unable to revive Mr Grant.
James Grant was competing in the solo category of the event - which had begun with a minute's silence for Amy Gillett - with a group of friends, including his wife. An enthusiastic competitor in endurance mountain bike races, mountain bike orienteering and adventure races, Mr Grant won the solo category at the 2003 Kona 24-hour and was a member of the Cairns Coconut Caravan Resort that team that won the teams category in last year's Crocodile Trophy, and had helped team-mate Adam Hanson to the overall victory.
A marine technician with the Royal Australian Navy, Mr Grant had recently moved from Cairns to Melbourne where he was studying mechanical engineering.
Bakker positive for EPO
Dutch rider Erwin Bakker has tested positive for EPO at an out of competition control in Mont Sainte-Anne, Canada, in June. Bakker finished seventh in the race, but faces disqualification from the race and a possible two year suspension. He has already been sacked by his team, Heijdens-Ten Tusscher.
Last year, Belgian Filip Meirhaeghe also tested positive for EPO in Mont Sainte-Anne, again in an out of competition test.
Mountain bike Masters World Championships
The Mondial du Vélo, organiser of the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships, has announced that the event will be held this year at Sun Peaks Resort, near Kamloops, British Columbia, from August 10 to 14. The UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships brings together mountain bike riders 30 years and older in order to designate world champions in endurance and downhill disciplines based on five-year age categories.
Situated in the beautiful Canadian Rockies, Sun Peaks Resort offers a magnificent local for mountain biking. British Columbia, after Quebec, has the highest pariticipation for mountain bike events in Canada, and offers exceptional mountain bike trails. The operators of Sun Peaks have decided that mountain biking is an ideal way to promote tourism at their resort, and have therefore offered the Mondial du Vélo the opportunity to hold the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships on the west coast for the first time.
“The cream of the 30 years and over crowd will be blown away by the spectacle Sun Peaks will offer,” says Richard Deslandes, General Manager of the Mondial du Vélo. “Sun Peaks is a dream come true for mountain biking, as much for the cross country rider as for the downhillers who have known this area for a long time.”
For more information and to learn how to participate in the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships, the Mondial invites all interested parties to consult their website, at www.mondialduvelo.com.
TransRockies 2005, Canadian multi-day mountain bike stage race, starts Sunday
The fourth edition of the TransRockies Challenge is set to start this Sunday August 7. Nearly 350 racers will set out from Fernie, British Columbia on a seven-day epic trek which will finish up seven days later in Canmore, Alberta, one of the jewels of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Between the ceremonial lap around Fernie’s historical downtown and the celebratory ride down Canmore’s Main Street, the racers will tackle 600km of gruelling climbs, technical singletrack and deep unbridged river crossings in the spectacular Canadian Rockies.
This year’s route has been revised from last year and includes an opening day which offers almost 50km of singletrack and an epic third day which will see the riders covering 135km and passing over the Highwood pass, the highest road in Canada.
As in past editions, the fifth stage from Sandy McNabb Campground to Bragg Creek is expected to be the Queen stage of the event. Nearly 110km long with 2300 metres of climbing and 44km of technical singletrack, Stage Five will be five hours in the saddle for the winners and seven to eight for most finishers.
Having sold out for the first time, the field will be deep and competitive in many categories. Riders to watch include Rocky Mountain Business Objects’ Andreas Hestler, one-half of last year’s winning team who will partner with 2004 Canadian national espoir cross-country champion Marty Lazarski. They can expect a real fight from Team ScotiaBank/La Ruta which feature 2004 Ruta de los Conquistadores winner Pablo Cesar Montoya and partner Marco Pohlond.
Last year’s winners Team Scott Contessa are not returning to defend their championship, so the women’s category is wide open. Favourites include Team Momentum Training with former La Ruta women’s winner Hillary Harrison and teammate Nikki Kassel. With numerous wins in endurance mountain bike and adventure races Team Cane Creek’s Trish Stevenson and Karen Masson will also step up to the start line with ambitions of a high placing.
From the teams racing for the podium and a share of the $20,000 prize money, to the recreational riders just looking to finish, the 2005 TransRockies Challenge will be a the toughest possible test of fitness, riding skill and equipment.
For more information, visit www.transrockies.com. Stay tuned for daily race reports.
Infineon Cougar Mountain set for September 9-11
The second annual Infineon Technologies Cougar Mountain Classic (formerly known as the California Outdoor Sports Championships), is expected to draw top riders to Sonoma County, CA in September. The event takes place September 9-11, 2005 and will bring 17,000 amateur and professional mountain bikers, gravity racers, road cyclists, trail runners, road runners, vendors, media, and outdoors sports fans to the three-day festival at Infineon Raceway. Festival-goers can participate in everything from competitive and non-competitive cycling and running events to a Swap Meet, a vintage cycling concourse, a grape stomping contest and many other events for the whole family.
Rick Sutton, the chief operations officer for the event said, “This promises to be a great end-of-season event for road cyclists, mountain bikers and runners.”
On tap for the weekend is a full program of NRC road racing and and pro and amateur All American Trail Running Association (AATRA) sanctioned running event called the 15K Road/Off-Road SuperRun.
On the mountain bike front, riders can compete in downhill, mountain cross, short-track, endurance (8-hours) and an American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) cross-country race which is also one last chance for riders to qualify for the National Off Road Bicycling Association (NORBA) National Championships (September 17-18, Mammoth Mountain, CA).
More information can be found at www.infineonraceway.com
There are a couple of mountain-bike products in the Cyclingnews New Arrivals section this week. Look for future reviews of:
Ellsworth Truth - Ellsworth is a small California-based mountain bike builder with big heaps of suspension technology in the form of the patented Instant Center Tracking design. ICT consistently aligns the chain torque line with the instant center of the rear linkage, making for ultra-efficient pedaling while retaining the excellent bump-eating capabilities of its four-bar rear end. The Truth is Ellsworth's XC/Endurance-specific race machine with four inches or rear wheel travel in a lightweight aluminum chassis with sealed bearing pivots all around./JH
Manitou R-Seven 100mm - Manitou has reignited the XC suspension fork wars with their new air-sprung 2006 R-Seven. This successor to the Skareb has trimmed roughly 100g off of the old chassis while upsizing to 30mm diameter stanchions for dramatically improved rigidity. Manitou's new Snap Valve damper design promises a firm pedaling platform while simultaneously delivering near-instant bump response. This preproduction sample doesn't quite have all of the planned weight reduction features but should still provide us with an excellent opportunity to report on the ride quality of the new platform before actual production units are available. Even in its early form, though, this thing is already super light at 3.36 lb (1.53 kg) with an 8.5in steerer tube; production units should be nearly 0.2 lb lighter!/JH
Thomson Masterpiece 31.6mm - For owners of bikes with big, fat seat tubes that therefore need a big, fat (but not heavy!) seat post, Thomson has just introduced a 31.6mm version of its lightest post, the forged-then-machined Masterpiece. The newest incarnation of the Masterpiece has all the features that have made Thomson's posts a fravourite: one-piece shaft and head, and two-bolt clamp. It's a combination that makes for a very tough post and also one that's user-friendly - you can get the saddle angle just right with a two-bolt clamp in a way that's hard with a single bolt. In either an in-line or setback design the 31.6mm version of the Masterpiece weighs 190g in a 350mm length suitable for mountain bike and compact road frame use./JS
Specialized lightens up for 2006
James huang took a look at 2006 bikes from Specialized in the Tech News section. Here's the best part:
The new S-Works Carbon HT uses full carbon construction with bonded aluminum hard points. The new frame materials and rear suspension assemblies result in dramatic weight savings across the board but also tremendous increases in torsional and lateral rigidity, drivetrain efficiency, and vertical compliance as compared to their aluminum forebears. In a nutshell, think lighter, faster, more efficient, and more comfortable. The new S-Works Carbon Epic frame weighs in at 2300g; the S-Works Carbon Stumpjumper FSR comes in at 2450g; and the S-Works Carbon HT is a road bike-like 1100g (all weights for medium size frames with paint and shocks where applicable).