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MTB News & racing round-up for August 10, 2005, part 1

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 mtb@cyclingnews.com

TransRockies exciting first stages

By Steve Medcroft
Formation flying at TransRockies
Photo ©: Rachel Boekel
Click for larger image

The TransRockies stage race got underway in British Columbia on Sunday. 700 pro and amateur starters, paired in teams, began the weeklong race across Canada’s portion of the Rocky Mountains with a short-by-race-standards forty-kilometer singletrack prologue. The opener featured 1,150 meters of climbing from Fernie and Sparwood, B.C. Between then and next Sunday, riders cover 600 kilometers and 12,000 meters of rural mountain terrain featuring, according to race organizers, “grueling climbs, technical singletrack and deep un-bridged river crossings.”

In the prologue, the team of Andreas Hestler and 2004 Canadian national espoir XC champ Marty Lazarski (Rocky Mountain) rose up to their billing as race favorites in the men’s division with a 9:17 win over fellow Canadians Troy Misseghers and Neil Grover (Race Face Mountain Men). "We're really happy with the way the day went," Hestler said at the finish. "Though it's only day one and there's nothing even remotely decided yet, having a nine-minute cushion is way more than we hoped for and gives us a tactical advantage for the moment."

Normally, tactical advantage means to sit back and let someone else wear themselves out trying to make up the time. But in Stage 2, the Rocky Mountain team found themselves with another chance to open the gap. In the 123 kilometer, 2100 meter route between Sparwood and Elkford, they Rocky Mountain and Race Face Mountain Men rode off the front of the race together until one of the Mountain Men flatted and the pair had to hold back. The pair chased Rocky Mountain to get back into contention but lost an additional six minutes in the overall.

The race is far from over though. On Friday alone, in the Stage from Sandy McNabb Campground to Bragg Cree, racers have to deal with 110 kilometers (44 of them technical singletrack) and 2300 meters of climbing.

There’s also more to the race than just the pro men’s event. Different teams have held the lead at the end of each of the first two days in both the women’s and the mixed-gender categories. In the 100+ Age Open category, Keith Bontrager (yes, that Bontrager) and British MTB journalist Steve Worland are sitting second behind Canadians Lindsay Gauld and Don Sissons (Olympia Prairie Boys). Bontrager is writing a daily diary from the event. You can read it here.

And the race is full of drama beyond just the unbelievable vista’s and hard-core racing. In one scary and dramatic moment on Monday, Samantha Phillips of Team Bike Shop/Bicycle Café crashed on the descent down Harley Pass in Stage 2. She opened a deep gash and cut major ligaments in her knee. Phillips’ teammate, Tom Zidek, piggybacked her up the next hill where she was evacuated by helicopter. He then strapped her bike to his back and rode it to the finish; including down the day's entire technical descent.

Results, race reports and pictures:

Brian Head NORBA Wrap Up

By Steve Medcroft

Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru Gary-Fisher) and fiancée Heather Irmiger (Tokyo Joes) were both winners at Saturday’s Brian Head, Utah NORBA National cross-country race. With his win, Horgan-Kobelski regained the NORBA series lead over Tam Maxxis' Geoff Kabush (who fell to ninth on the day after mechanical problems).

Twenty-six year old Irmiger’s victory was her first NORBA-series win. "I kind of just played it pretty conservative at first and I knew it was a long time until it got higher and harder, "she said about her approach to the race. But after the lead group slowed, she took a chance and attacked on a long climb. “It's kind of an amateur tactic (to go hard early).” An amateur tactic that paid off when Irmiger was able to hold off 2005 four-time cross-country winner Shonny Vanlandingham by 43 seconds for the win.

"I'm still still high off it," Irmiger said Tuesday evening. "Still not sleeping much."

Attempting the Hat Trick

Power couple JHK and Irmiger’s double cross-country win was the story of the weekend but Jeremiah Bishop came awfully close to a double of his own after racing all three cross-country events.

“It’s the first time I’ve attempted the hat trick,” he says. “It was a really fun challenge. But it was really a means to an end; just part of the training plan.” A plan that called for Bishop to get in an intense block of competition-level riding over the weekend. “I’m trying to ride into top form for the finals, mountain bike nationals and World Championships month.”

Although individual racers have won both the cross-country and short-track events at a single NORBA weekend before (most recently Geoff Kabush’s short-track and cross-country wins in Snowmass, Colo. in July) not many racers attempt all three cross-country events. “Ryder Hesjedal tried (the hat trick) once,” Bishop says. “In Schweitzer (July 2004), he won the cross country and marathon and placed 17th in the short track.” So Bishop knew it was possible to get results in all three races.

He came second in Saturday’s cross-country then won Sunday morning’s marathon. In the Sunday-afternoon short-track, he raced aggressively. “I was probably a little too excited,” he said. “The lead pack of about five guys slowed down into a headwind. It was irresistible attack so I slipped around and tried to go.” Stuck in the wind alone, “they put the smack down me; went around me like a pack of angry hornets” he says about being overtaken a lap later.

Although fatigued, Bishop still managed seventh, his best short-track result so far. His training now calls for the Harrisonburg, Virginia-based pro to back off a little leading up to the Snowmass and Mount Snow NORBA’s later this month. “I’m going to do some shopping,” he says, “pick out my Tux (for his October wedding to fiancée Erin North).

Ferguson first race back ends in a spill

In the cross-country race in Brian Head, twenty-three year old Coloradan Walker Ferguson (Scott USA), who is just returning to national-level MTB competition after a racing sabbatical and was competing in his one and only NORBA race of the year, crashed on a descent but escaped major damage. “I’m bruised up but nothing was broken,” he said on Tuesday. Which means Ferguson will be able to stick to his plan to “do a couple local races here in Colorado then go to Mammoth for Nationals.”

Results, race reports and pictures:

Ryan Trebon sidelined after ‘Toona crash

By Steve Medcroft

Mountain biker Ryan Trebon (Kona Les Gets) was injured in a crash during the International Tour de Toona road stage race in Altoona, Pennsylvania July 28. With With less than fifteen kilometers to go in the Holidaysburgh Circuit race, he touched wheels with another racer and hit the pavement, snapping the radius bone (the inner of the two bones that make up the forearm). Trebon was treated at a local hospital and was unable to compete in the following week’s Brian head, Utah NORBA event.

Trebon says he will probably not make any of the remaining NORBAs either but hopes to recover in time to compete in the Mammoth, California National Championship cross-country race September 18.

Global MTB racing roundup:

Besides the NORBA action in Brian Head, Utah and the Canadian TransRockies multi-day stage race, we posted the following results and race reports from around the world:

Bishop wins Double Assault on Mount Mitchell

Professional mountain-bike racer Jeremiah Bishop became the first cyclist to win both the Assault on Mount Mitchell road event and the Off-Road Assault on Mount Mitchell mountain bike race, accomplishing both victories in a single year.

On July 31, Bishop crossed the finish line on his mud-covered Trek bicycle Assault after riding 61 miles with 11,000 feet of elevation gain in just 5:15. In May, Bishop completed the 117mile Assault on Mount Mitchell road ride. Among one thousand entrants, Bishop was the first to summit the 6,648-foot peak with a total ride time of 6:11.

The 2005 “Assaults” marked Bishop’s first attempt in both cycling events. “It was really fun to be the first rider to win the road Assault on Mount Mitchell and the Off-Road Assault,” Assault had the most climbing I have done over that distance since TransAlp. A super quality course, it was really fun. Also, this victory represents a positive return to form after recovering from a recent illness,” Bishop adds.

The 2005 Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell was the most successful running the event with over 265 participants. Bishop, 29, is a professional mountain bike racer on the Trek/Volkswagen Racing Team. In 2003, he won the Gold Medal in the Mountain Bike race at the XIV Pan American Games. Bishop completed the 2004 mountain bike season ranked twentieth internationally.

Australian World's Team announced

National Mountain Bike selectors have selected the following riders to represent Australia at the UCI World MTB Championships in Livigno, Italy from the 31st Aug – 4th September, 2005.

    Junior XC Men: Lachlan Norris, Garry Millburn, Cal Britten, Joel Healy , Andrew Arthur, Daniel Johnston.
    Junior XC Women: Erica Oldfield
    U23 XC Men: Trent Lowe, Shaun Lewis, Daniel McConnell.
    Senior XC Men (Opportunity exists for additional elite seniors to qualify by 25th July): Dylan Cooper , Sid Taberlay, Brent Miller.
    Senior XC Women: Emma Colson, Niki Fisher, Niki Gudex.
    Junior DH Men: Amiel Cavalier, Liam Panozzo, Christopher Panozzo, Ayden Eves, Sam Hocken, Hugh Mansfield, Darren Pokoj, Alex Swann (Reserve)
    Junior DH Women: Tracey Hannah (TBC)
    Elite Men Downhill: Sam Hill (WA), Nathan Rennie (QLD), Chris Kovarik (QLD), Jared Graves (QLD), Michael Hannah (NSW), Joel Panozzo (VIC), Bryn Atkinson (VIC), reserves (Justin Havukainen (NSW), Jared Rando (ACT)).
    Elite Women Downhill: Claire Whiteman (ACT).
    Elite Men Four-Cross: Sam Hill (WA), Nathan Rennie (Qld), Chris Kovarik (Qld), Jared Graves (Qld), Michael Hannah (NSW), Joel Panozzo (Vic), Bryn Atkinson (Vic), reserves (Darren Pokoj (Qld), Justin Havukainen (NSW), Jared Rando (ACT)).
    Elite Women Four-Cross: Katrina Miller (NSW), Claire Whiteman (ACT).

MTBA congratulates all the fine athletes and wishes them all a very successful campaign at the Worlds in September.

USA World's team finalised

Following last week's announcement naming the automatic selections to the U.S. squad for the 2005 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Livigno, Italy later this month, USA Cycling finalised its team by announcing discretionary nominations today. The 21 additional start positions bring the total number of competitors representing the United States at the annual championship event to 43.

Of the previously announced automatic qualifiers, Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) declined her nomination to the team. The two-time Olympian and 2001 World Champion has announced her retirement from world-class competition after the 2005 season in which she is focusing solely on domestic-based events including the NORBA National Mountain Bike Series.

Discretionary picks to the men's cross country squad include 2004 U.S. Olympic Team member Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.), Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.), Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass.), Barry Wicks (Corvallis, Ore.) and current U.S. Elite National Road Race Champion Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.).

The sole addition to the women's cross-country team is Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo.). Irmiger has put up impressive results in cross country events on the NORBA series this year with second and third place finishes respectively at round three in Deer Valley, Utah and round four in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Other additions include Nick Ranno (Boulder, Colo.), and Sam Jurekovic (Durango, Colo.) in the U23 cross country category and Michael Cummings (Snellville, Ga.), Kyle Hammaker (Marysville, Pa.), Mitchell Peterson (Sandy, Utah) and Tristen Uhl (Smithville, Texas) in the junior men's cross-country discipline.

The elite men's downhill squad added four as Chris Van Dine (Salt Lake, City, Utah), Gerritt Beytagh (Fletcher, N.C.), Curtis Keene (Fremont, Calif.) and David Klaassenvanoorschot (Riverside, Calif.) earned nominations.

Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.), who was an automatic selection to compete in the 4-cross, was added to the elite women's downhill roster.

Bronze medalist in the junior men's downhill at last year's world championships in Les Gets, France, Kyle Strait (Redlands, Calif.), was an automatic selection to the elite 4-cross squad, but also earned a discretionary pick to again ride in the junior men's downhill race. Strait joins Brendon Newton (Arvada, Colo.), and Kyle Adams (Hesperia, Calif.) as discretionary selections for the junior men's downhill.

Veteran rider Mike King (San Diego, Calif.) earned a slot in the men's 4-cross.

Complete U.S. Team for UCI Mountain Bike World Championships:

    Elite Men Cross Country: *Adam Craig (Bend, Ore), *Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo.), Michael Broderick (Chilmark, Mass.), Barry Wicks (Corvallis, Ore.), Todd Wells (Durango, Colo.), Jeremiah Bishop (Harrisonburg, Va.), Carl Decker (Bend, Ore.)
    Elite Women Cross Country: *Mary McConneloug (Chilmark, Mass.), *Willow Koerber (Horseshoe, N.C.), *Shonny Vanlandingham (Durango, Colo.), *Kelli Emmett (Colorado Springs, Colo.), *Susan Haywood (Davis, W. Va.), Heather Irmiger (Boulder, Colo.)
    U23 Men Cross Country: *Sam Schultz (Missoula, Mont.), *Nick Waite (Davis, W. Va.), *Andy Schultz (Missoula, Mont.), Nick Ranno (Boulder, Colo.), Sam Jurekovic (Durango, Colo.)
    Junior Men Cross Country: *Colin Cares (Boulder, Colo.), Michael Cummings (Snellville, Ga.), Kyle Hammaker (Marysville, Pa.), Mitchell Peterson (Sandy, Utah), Tristen Uhl (Smithville, Texas)
    Junior Women Cross Country: *Danae York (Indio, Calif.), *Chloe Forsman (Boulder, Colo.)
    Elite Men Downhill: *Cody Warren (Alpine, Calif.), Chris Van Dine (Salt Lake, City, Utah), Gerritt Beytagh (Fletcher, N.C.), Curtis Keene (Fremont, Calif.), David Klaassenvanoorschot (Riverside, Calif.)
    Elite Women Downhill: *Kathy Pruitt (Lake Almanor, Calif.), Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.)
    Junior Men Downhill: *Travis Bond (Chattanooga, Tenn.), Kyle Strait (Redlands, Calif.), Brendon Newton (Arvada, Colo.), Kyle Adams (Hesperia, Calif.)
    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.), *Eric Carter (Temecula, Calif.), Mike King (San Diego, Calif.)
    Elite Women 4-Cross: *Jill Kintner (Seattle, Wash.), *Tara Llanes (Los Alamitos, Calif.), *Melissa Buhl (Chandler, Ariz.)

*Denotes Automatic Selections

U.S. Congress Backs Take A Kid Mountain Biking Initiative

For the second year in a row, the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) "National Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day" initiative has gained support from the U.S. Congress. A joint resolution (H. Con. Res. 205/S. Res. 195) sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (NC) and Congresswoman Virginia Fox (NC) has been earmarked for swift passage this fall. Additional co-sponsors are Senator Ken Salazar (CO) and Representative Mark Udall (CO).

In 2004, thousands of kids participated in more than 100 events nationwide and in several other countries. IMBA expects even greater numbers of participants in 2005.

The legislation is in memory of Jack Doub, a teenage mountain biker from North Carolina. Doub was an avid teenage mountain biker who had a passion for the sport from an early age, but passed away in 2002. The Jack Doub Memorial Endowment helps fund the event.

National Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day encourages adults and cycling clubs to introduce kids to the sport of mountain biking. It is held annually on the first Saturday of October – Oct. 1 on this year's calendar.

Clubs and individuals who are interested in hosting an event should visit http://imba.com/resources/kids/index.html for information and advice. Trips for Kids, an organization that has been helping disadvantaged kids discover mountain biking since 1988, will provide additional assistance. Visit them at http://www.tripsforkids.org/

U.S. Transportation Bill Promises More Trails

The U.S. Congress is set to approve a new five-year federal transportation Bill that will increase trails funding, including federal grants for singletrack, according to the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

After two years of delays, the new bill is finally in front of both houses of congress and will move on for President Bush's signature. In total, it will increase funding for bike programs by nearly $2 billion through 2009.

Most important for mountain biking, the bill promises more money for the Recreational Trails Program - a small but important project in the massive $286 billion transportation bill. The Recreational Trails Program, funded by non-highway recreation gas taxes, has helped communities build and repair thousands of miles of trails, involving more than 7,000 projects in all 50 states.

Funding for the Recreational Trails Program will grow to a total of $370 million over five years, $100 million more than the previous transportation bill passed in 1998.

"This new bill is great for mountain biking," said IMBA executive director Mike Van Abel. "We're pumped that funding for the Recreational Trails Program will increase. This federal grant program is extremely important to mountain biking's future."

"For the past two years, our lobbying team in Washington has pushed IMBA's message. All of that hard work has paid off. Everyone who donated funds, visited Capitol Hill during IMBA's lobby days, or contacted their members of Congress, deserves thanks. You helped IMBA convince lawmakers that mountain biking trails are important," added Van Abel.

The new bill also creates the first-ever national Safe Routes to School Program, and authorizes more money for transportation enhancements and other key programs that support bike facilities. Overall, bicycling and recreation groups are very pleased with the legislation.

Bicycling organizations collaborated in the transportation bill lobbying effort under the banner of America Bikes. Other trail and recreation interests, both motorized and non-motorized, rallied together through the Coalition for Recreational Trails. For more details on bicycling projects in the transportation bill, visit the America Bikes website at www.americabikes.org. To learn more about the Coalition for Recreational Trails, visit www.funoutdoors.com.

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