MTB News & racing round-up for April 3, 2006
Edited by Steve Medcroft
Curacao World Cup round-up
Bart Brentjens (Giant) wins
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Round one of the UCI World Cup went off in the Dutch Antilles island
of Curacao this weekend. World champion Gunn-Rita Dahle (Multivan Merida
Biking Team) and former world champion Bart Brentjens (Giant-Racing-Team)
took the women's and men's races respectively; Dahle ahead of Sabine Spitz
(Specialized) and Margarita Fullana Riera (Spiuk Illes Balears) and Brentjens
ahead of world champion Julien Absalon (Bianchi Agos) and Commonwealth
Games gold medallist Liam Killeen (Specialized).
The Caribbean heat was tough on competitors - soaring temperatures and
high humidity forced organizers to actually shorten the men's race by
one of the originally-planned seven laps around the 6.8 kilometer course
- but an ocean front finish meant that exhausted, heat-stroked racers
could finish their ride with a dive into the ultimate swimming pool.
For Dahle, winning means she has been careful with her off-season preparation
and has retained the strength which allowed her to dominate women's world
cup and world championship competition the past two seasons. It was also
a testament to her good luck - first-lap confusion and crashes split the
field right off the gun and let Dahle slip away from riders who could
have mounted a serious challenge like Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain
/ Business Objects) and Mary McConneloug (Kenda / Seven), who ended up
fourth and fifth respectively.
In the men's race, Brentjens may have possessed a little inside knowledge
of the course having helped design it in his role as ambassador to mountain
biking for the Netherlands, but world champion Absalon says Brentjens
was the stronger racer anyway. "He was really powerful, and I maybe did
too much at the beginning when I had to catch him," Absalon said after
the finish. "But this is good for me at this time of year, and now I will
go back and train for the three World Cups in Europe next month."
Read complete race reports, results and photos for both the men's
Swedish MTB pro attacked in Curacao
Swedish MTB rider Emil Lindgren was the victim of an assault while training
on the mountain bike World Cup parcours in Curacao this weekend and had
his bicycle stolen. Lindgren is said to be relatively unharmed by the
attack, though shocked by the aggression and has several bruises. Police
found his bike and later arrested two suspects.
Writing in his own web
site, he said, "I went for my daily ride and after while I rode to
the parcours to do a lap. After about two kilometres two guys jumped out
from the bushes on a down hill stretch. I rode at high speed and was to
pass them when one of them hit my shoulder which resulted in a crash.
"I didn't understand what had happened until one of them took my bike
and started to run. The other one picked up stones and started throwing
at me. I ran as fast as I could the other way and I don't know if any
of the stones hit me. I was just scared that one of them might follow
Lindgren made it back to his hotel safely, where he was able to assess
the damage; some bruising and a deep cut in his right knee. The local
police apparently responded quickly and located his bike as well as arresting
the two suspects.
The attack was hardly the best preparation for the first round of the
MTB World Cup; Lindgren finished the men's race in 62nd place, almost
15 minutes behind race winner Bart Brentjens (see
report ). "I'm happy that I wasn't badly injured and I'm looking ahead
again. I always do my best in all situations and I'll do it now as well.”
Kabush and Killeen look to repeat Sea Otter 1-2
Organizers of the Sea Otter Classic have reworked the cross country course
for 2006. Veteran racers expecting the XC event to be "just another day
at the office" will need to prepare for a race studded with technical
ascents, more passing sections, and a final descent to the finish.
"From a competitive standpoint, what the racers will notice is a lot
more frequent climbing, more ups and downs that will make the race more
interesting," explained Jeff Frost, who designed the new course. "For
the traditionalists, they'll love it! It's still going through eucalyptus
groves, sandy sections, and the side-hill stuff unique to the Fort Ord
trail system. Also, I think the new course will allow time gaps to actually
increase, whereas in years past - with so much fire-road and double track
- the top ten guys have always worked together on the first lap. This
year I think someone is going to make a move a lot quicker and the race
will sort out a lot sooner than it has in the past."
The mountain bike venues at Sea Otter have historically suited bigger
power riders like Geoff Kabush, who will return to defend last year's
title. "It is going to be great to see a new course and I think it will
make things a lot more interesting," said Kabush. "The old course had
become very predictable to the racers; it went hard until the first hard
climb where a selection was made and the strong riders rode away from
there. Hopefully the new course will create a more dynamic race as well
as keep some of the fun single-track elements that have made Sea Otter
During the past ten Sea Otters, Kabush has climbed ever higher in the
rankings with the push for number one beginning in 2000 with a memorable
sprint for 5th against some of mountain biking's supernovas. Then the
countdown started in earnest with a third place in 2003; second in 2004;
and first in 2005. However, last year's final podium showed Specialized
rider, Liam Killeen, in second place. Killeen's gold medal for cross-country
that he won just last week at the Commonwealth Games in Australia, tells
of a racer whose form, focus and fitness all point toward another podium
Kabush and Killeen will need to beat riders like Adam Craig, Thomas Frischknecht,
Bart Brentjens, Todd Wells, and Sid Taberlay, along with a formidable
field of mountain biking's next generation.
Jimena Florit fills big shoes for Luna Women's MTB team
Photo ©: Sea Otter Classic
The spot on the Luna Women's MTB Team left vacant by Alison Dunlap, who
retired from pro mountain bike racing at the end of last season, recently
got filled by two-time Olympian and former RLX-Polo pro, Jimena Florit.
Not one to be called "slacker," the pro racer from Argentina has distracted
herself from the pro circuit with a few adventure races, some triathlons
and the US Xterra series. Her decision to return to pro racing derived
from - among other things - a primal desire to stomp with force on her
pedals once again.
"I missed being able to ride my bike HARD, really hard," explained Florit.
"In triathlon, I was always still recovering from my last run, so I was
never fresh to do a hard bike ride. It was really hard to have to ride
the bike easy/medium and that was all I could do."
This year marks Florit's eighth return to Sea Otter. A few years back
Florit and Dunlap volleyed wins with a robust competitive spirit. Now,
with Dunlap out of competition, there's a new queen to crown in women's
"Sea Otter is the biggest race in the season outside of the NORBA and
World Cups where pretty much you'll face world class competition," said
Florit. "The women's fields are big. You will get all the racers from
the NORBA series, plus several top world class riders from Europe or Canada,
and why not a few roadies who finally decided to give the knobbies a shot."
Look out for Shonny Vanlandingham, Kelli Emmett, Sue Haywood, Katerina
Nash (formerly Hanusova), Heather Irmiger, Dara Marks-Marino and others
who seek to topple each other from the podium.
The professional mountain bike races start Thursday, April 6 at 10 a.m.
with the Women's Super XC. For a complete schedule of all Sea Otter Classic
events, visit: www.seaotterclassic.com/event_schedule.asp
The rules; USAC releases MTB national championship criteria
The 2006 National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) pro team membership
form is now available as a download on USA Cycling's web site. To obtain
a copy, click
Also released by USA Cycling this week was a FAQ clarifying the qualifications
rules for the National Championship category competitions which are to
be held at Mammoth Mountain, California (July 20-23). The FAQ clears up
misconceptions riders sometimes have about how to qualify for jersey races
and lays out a few category-by-category rules (such as the fact that true
US-citizen pro-class riders don't need to implicitly qualify and semi-pro's
cannot 'race down' for the expert-category championships).
View the entire FAQ
on USA Cycling's Web site here.
Winter Plumage; the Nat Ross diary
They might keep you warm,
Photo ©: Nat Ross
At one point in my life, when I was teaching High School, I had the opportunity
to teach several electives and one was Ornithology. I think that Birds
are fascinating and perhaps with the paranoia of the bird flu epidemic,
others will start following them more closely as well.
Birds ready themselves for the winter by thickening up their feather
coat to help regulate their body temp as a sort of body heater. Molting
is the process of shedding or replacing feathers, so you can see where
I am going with this one. As a former Nordic ski racer, I'm used to racing
in a lycra skinsuit in the cold but when I'm training for cycling, I want
to be warm, dry and even a bit toasty. So I've got an amazing system of
layering that I call my Winter Plumage Kit; before a winter ride I add
layers and once I get going, I often have to shed, or molt, a layer.
As one can imagine, preparing for endurance events requires an insane
amount of dedication and commitment. I put the bulk of my energy and focus
into training during the off-season. Once I have put in the required hours
(and more), it pretty much becomes a race and recover deal starting immediately
after the first big endurance event. Acquiring the necessary hours to
be on top of my game is not an easy task. I live in Vail, Colorado and
we've had a snowy winter. Not that I am complaining, but the cold temperatures
hamper my motivation.
Read the entire Nat
Ross diary here.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)