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MTB News & racing round-up for December 21, 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 mtb@cyclingnews.com

Rando dual leader in Aussie downhill Nats

By Sharon Payne

Jared Rando dominates two mountain bike disciplines in Australia now after winning the Iron Horse Downhill at Thredbo December 18th. Rando had a dream run on the 4.3km Cannonball Run to finish comfortably ahead of Liam Panozzo and Justin Havukainen in third. With temperatures of 2.5 degrees at the start line, Rando let nothing stand in his way with the quickest run of the day in 6:14.08.

The win gives Rando his first for the weekend after crashing in the semi-final of the mountain cross on Friday night. He still maintains his lead in that series. Coming into the downhill event, Rando was second on the points, but after today's win he takes over the lead from World Silver Medallist, Sam Hill from Western Australia.

Rando was closely watched by Jared Graves, the winner of the last two events at Thredbo. Graves, the World silver medallist in Mountain Cross also lined up in the downhill and turned in the best qualifying run of 6.19.22. However, Graves crashed mid way down in the final run, costing him precious seconds.

Adding to the excitement, snow started to fall at the top of the run just as the finals were beginning, with the chill factor an extra challenge for riders used to warmer climates. According to Graves it was the snow and rain affected track that caused his stack.

"I was having a really good run and just tried a little too hard in the middle section and it's all sort of greasy in there from the rain we've had in the last couple of days. Pretty well I hit a root, and before I knew it my back wheel was in front of my front wheel and I was heading back up the side of the hill into the bushes."

Rando however said the track was in great condition despite the snow. "It didn't really effect it, actually it was really grippy and almost perfect for racing on. It was just like hero traction."

In the qualifying run the previous day's rainfall took its toll and times were slower than expected. Graves qualified fastest with Rando just off the pace and Bryn Atkinson third fastest of the day. Sickness struck Atkinson, ruling him out of the final run which left the door open for Liam Panozzo, who had the most improved time of the day.

The downhill comp takes place on the legendary 4.2km Cannonball Run, which is packed full of jumps, berms and turns, and it seems, even the odd real-life cannonball!

Sydney rider Rohan Gearing was the unfortunate victim of a rogue boulder...

"I was just at the start gate ready to race, and unfortunately, just as the clock was about to let me go, a rock rolled down the side of the hill and just bowled me over," he explained. "It just damaged the gear mechanism at the back there, the rock sort of smashed it, yeah I've just got to fix it up and make it go so I can race again.

Officials allowed Gearing to ride the final run and he managed 23rd position.

For complete results, click here.

Double Celebrations for Graves in Thredbo

By Sharon Payne

Jared Graves celebrated his 23rd birthday and a win in his first Mountain Cross race in Australia at Thredbo on Friday night. The Toowoomba rider won the final just beating ex-World BMX Champion, Wade Bootes from the Gold Coast. The two had last raced at the World Championships in Italy in September where Graves won the silver medal and Bootes finished tenth.

Graves won in straight heats and chose the inside track to keep Wade Bootes, his closest rival, on his outside. "They didn't know who to give lane choice to because we'd both won all our rounds," said Graves. "We did paper, scissors, rock and I won that so. I chose Lane 2." The decision paid off for Graves. "I knew Wade and I would be pretty similar to the first corner, so for me it was pretty important to be on his inside," he added.

The Toowoomba rider had just recovered from a training injury just in time to make the trip down to Thredbo.

Bootes, 34 now bows out of Mountain Cross riding to focus his attention on gaining selection in the Australian BMX Olympic squad to race in Beijing in 2008. "I'll start focusing on the Olympics. It's going to be tough getting on the team," stated Bootes.

Third was Shane Wode from Brisbane.

The favourite to win was National Series Leader, Jared Rando from Canberra crashed in the first turn of the semi-finals with Luke Strom.

The new style of track design got the approval of the World Class riders. International track designer, Glen Jacobs has created a unique mountain cross track that allows for closer and more exciting racing.

For a complete list of results, click here.

Cycling BC 2006 MTB calendar and ranking system

Cycling BC has announced the 2006 BC mountain bike race calendar and ranking system. A departure from the BC Cup series held in previous years, the BC mountain bike ranking system is intended to promote growth of participation in mountain bike competition by providing incentives for cycling clubs to organise races and recruit new racing members. In addition to BC Cup events, provincial ranking points are awarded for most races on the provincial calendar. The scale and depth of points awarded at each race corresponds to its level of sanction.

By making it possible to accumulate points at most races, Cycling BC hopes to encourage strong club-level racing in all regions of the province, making it possible for Cycling BC members to maintain a ranking by supporting local races, as well as some of the higher-level events. As such, Cycling BC affiliated clubs are encouraged to register their events on the provincial calendar so that riders in each region of the province can earn more points.

All points accumulated by each rider between January 1 and October 15 are used to determine the provincial ranking in each eligible category for 2006. There is no minimum or maximum number of races, nor is attendance at any particular event mandatory in order to maintain a ranking. For all beginner and sport ability categories, as well as the senior expert categories, ranking points will be maintained for upgrade purposes.

Complete details of the Ranking System and 2006 Mountain Bike Calendar can be found on the Cycling BC web site (www.cycling.bc.ca) . Cycling BC still expects to add more events to the Calendar as the winter progresses; new versions of the Calendar will be posted periodically.

Cannondale announces new MTB team

Cannondale has announced the formation of a new powerhouse cross country racing team this week, which will contend for the top spot on the World Cup circuit. This multi-year partnership with global tire manufacturer Vredestein blends established winners with young rising stars for a program that Cannondale expects to make its way onto podiums well into the future.

This cross country team is a fundamental part of Cannondale's commitment to mountain bike racing and development in all disciplines; from top level pros to aspiring young athletes, from cross country to gravity.

"With the continued diversification in the sport of mountain biking, we felt it necessary to communicate our cross country product story with a team focused on cross country racing," said Matt Mannelly, President of the Cannondale Brand. "In addition, we recognise that the gravity disciplines and riders are best served through a program focused on those races and events and not contained within a classic cross country-based team structure."

The team's 2006 roster includes Swedish rising star Fredrik Kessiakoff, who remains aboard a Cannondale and will continue his rise to the top levels of the sport with the new team. Fredrik finished fourth overall in the UCI Cross Country World Cup rankings in 2005 and eighth in the Marathon World Cup after winning his home round of Falun, Sweden.

Kiwi Kashi Leuchs will return to the Cannondale family in 2006, joining Fredrik as a formidable pairing for the World Cup season. In addition, Kashi is targeting the 2006 World Championships which will be held in his native New Zealand. "I'm excited to return to the Cannondale family and also to be able to contribute to a racer support program like the one I started with," stated Kashi, referring to Cannondale Europe's plans to launch a grassroots program in 2006.

Peter Riis Anderson also joins the team from Denmark. Peter is currently ranked 12th in UCI world rankings, and finished fourth at the Marathon World Championships.

Completing the team is another Danish Dynamite, Jakob Fuglsang, the 2005 Under 23 World Cup Champion and currently the top ranked rider in the UCI U23 ranking. Jakob comes from the Heijdens-Ten Tusscher Team, also sponsored by Cannondale and Vredestein in 2005.

The team is managed by Jan ten Tusscher and Ruud Poels and is linked with the Heijdens ten Tusscher development team, which gives promising young riders like Jakob a chance to compete at the highest level of the sport and ultimately paves their way to a professional racing career.

With three riders in the UCI top twenty, this young and focused team will target World Cup events, the World Championships, and the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in Peking. The team will race aboard the Cannondale Scalpel equipped with Lefty fork and Vredestein new line-up of mountain bike tires.

Irmiger to Subaru-Gary Fisher

Heather Irmiger, winner of the NORBA NCS cross country at Brian Head and sixth place overall in the NCS Series, has joined the Subaru-Gary Fisher team for 2006.

"Heather was already a big part of our program last year," said team manager Jon Rourke. Heather raced for the Gary Fisher-sponsored Tokyo Joes team, and at National events based her endeavours out of the Subaru-Gary Fisher team truck. "She brings such a youthful exuberance to everything she does, working with her in the past has been great and it will be even better having her as an official member of the squad. She really earned this. She had a great year last year with eight NORBA podiums, and will have more time to focus on racing and training this season. I am very optimistic about her potential."

For 2006 Heather will focus on the NCS Series, the US National Championships, and North American World Cup events. Her signature strength is on climbing courses, but she is training for more power next season so that she can contend for a win on any course.

Sydor tops Canadian cycling achievements list

CanadianCyclist.com has announced the results of the first-ever poll on Canadian cycling achievements. After two weeks of voting, thousands of readers chose the top-10 individual achievements of Canadian cyclists, from a list of 25 significant athletic accomplishments.

"We began this project after Forbes.com released a list of the top-20 athletic achievements," explained CanadianCyclist.com editor Rob Jones. "After compiling a list of nearly 50 significant achievements by Canadian cyclists, we pared it down to 25 and let our readers decide. When you read through the list, there are some incredible accomplishments for a so-called 'non-cycling' nation."

Leading the list were Alison Sydor and Steve Bauer, who took four of the top five spots between them, and seven of the top-10. Also on the top-10 list were Lori-Ann Muenzer (4th) for her Olympic gold medal in Athens (the first Canadian cyclist to win an Olympic gold medal), Roland Green (tied for 7th) for his incredible 2001 season, and Curt Harnett (9th), for his world record in the flying 200 metre time trial, a record that has not been broken after more than 10 years.

The full top-10 list is:

1. Alison Sydor's three consecutive world titles (1994-96)
2. Steve Bauer's 1990 Tour de France, when he spent 10 days in the Yellow Jersey
3. Steve Bauer's 1988 Tour, when he won a stage, finished 4th overall and spent 5 days in Yellow
4. Lori-Ann Muenzer's Olympic gold medal in the sprint at the 2004 Olympics, Canada's first Olympic gold medal in cycling
5. Alison Sydor's 17 World Cup victories (mountain bike cross-country)
6. Alison Sydor's 13 consecutive years of top-5 finishes (cross-country, 1992-2004) at the World Championships, including 3 gold, 5 silver and 2 bronze medals
7. Roland Green's 2001 season, when he was World Champion, World Cup Champion, World Team Relay Champion, National Champion and won two U.S. national (NORBA) series titles
7. Steve Bauer wins the silver medal at the 1984 Olympics as an amateur, immediately turns professional and wins a bronze medal one week later at the Professional World Championships
9. Curt Harnett's world record in the flying 200 metre time trial (9.865 seconds) at the 1995 World Championships, a record that still stands
10. Alison Sydor's silver medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in the inaugural Olympic mountain bike event

A full list of the achievements that were voted on can be found in the Daily News section of CanadianCyclist.com

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