MTB news & racing round-up for December 23, 2006
Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking.
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Edited by Sue George
Leadville Trail 100: Landis vs. Armstrong?
Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Sirotti
The 2007 edition of the Leadville Trail 100 may turn out to be a battle
of former teammates and Tour de France winners Floyd Landis and Lance
Armstrong. Earlier this week, Landis said he would compete in the race
after accepting an invitation from race director Ken Chlouber, who spoke
with Cyclingnews. Armstrong announced
his participation nearly a month ago. The two will battle on August
The endurance event will mark Landis' return to mountain biking, the
discipline where his cycling career started as a young junior in central
Pennsylvania. He later gave up mountain bike racing to embark in a full-time
road racing career in 1998.
Chlouber, who's retired from Colorado's state senate, described the race's
locale to Cyclingnews. "Leadville has one stoplight and is
a small mining town. Lance Armstrong coming to Leadville will be our greatest
visitor since 1878 when President Grant came here. We're equally excited
to have Floyd Landis. This is a tough race, these are tough guys, they
are coming here to win. It's unbelievable to have two Tour de France winners
on our starting line."
"I started my racing career on a mountain bike in 1993," remembered
Landis, who anticipates returning to his roots. "Training for Leadville
will be great preparation for a return to the Tour de France. With my
successful hip resurfacing and my training load increasing, I'm very much
looking forward to racing my bike again." Landis is recovering from
hip surgery on September 17th. Leadville will put his new hip joint to
Photo ©: Sirotti
Landis is without a team for 2007, and his pro racing eligibility remains
in question due to ongoing proceedings for a positive doping test from
Stage 17 of the Tour de France. If the positive test is upheld, Landis
will be suspended from competing in sanctioned races, but Chlouber said
Landis will be welcome in Leadville.
"Without question, Landis will still be able to compete in our race.
We are more than grateful for him to accept our invitation to race. Personally,
I believe that Landis will be exonerated, and his Tour de France win will
be upheld." Referring to both Armstrong and Landis, "We have
a deep and abiding appreciation for these two guys, and I'm not going
to tolerate anyone being negative about them. One thing the mining industry
has taught us over the last 120 years is a high degree of integrity. We
expect that of ourselves and others."
The Leadville 100 began in 1983 and covers a 100-mile course through
the Sawatch mountains. It features 15,600 feet of climbing and descending.
Altitude is perhaps the most challenging feature of the race. Its lowest
point is 9,200 feet, and the highest point is 12,620 feet. The race will
accept registrations from January 3-31, 2007. A lottery will then select
participants from the entries received. Typically, 750 racers start and
about 500-600 finish.
Clearing up the confusion: US mountain bike calendars
Although grassroots racing in the US will be organized similarly in 2007,
the structure of elite-level mountain bike racing will get a makeover.
No longer will top racers target the NORBA National Series, as it has
been known for years. Instead a new, expanded National Mountain Bike Calendar
will replace the old series, which typically consisted of six to eight
major races. USA Cycling has announced a partial version of the National
Mountain Bike Calendar, but will publicize the complete version soon after
the new year begins.
Sue Haywood at a 2006 NORBA National
Photo ©: Mike Pinewski
In the meantime, elite racers can begin some planning. There is significant
overlap between the grassroots American Mountain Bike Calendar (AMBC)
and the National Mountain Bike Calendar (formal acronym still to be announced).
Although somewhat confusing, both series span the entire country, but
the AMBC consists of more local events. The National Calendar will include
large regional and national events and will be divided into three sections:
gravity events like downhill, Super D, and four cross; cross country events;
and ultra-endurance events like marathons, 100 milers, and 12-hour and
Two key national events are the two UCI Category 2 events happening April
29th in Greenbriar, Maryland, and May 12th in Callaway, Minnesota.
Lest any confusion remain with the names of mountain bike series, USA
Cycling used to own and run a National
Mountain Bike Series (NMBS). The name and the series still exist,
but Tom Spiegel and Jeff Frost co-own the rights, and in fact, the name
now refers to only six events, all of which are expected to be part of
the National Mountain Bike Calendar.
Independently of USA Cycling, Granny Gear Productions hosts its own national
series of 24-hour races, and last year an affiliation of 100 mile race
promoters formed to run a 100 miler race series; however there has been
no official word about the continuation of the latter series for 2006.
The AMBC series, as announced by USA Cycling, consists of the following
races for 2007. Races with an * denote events that are known at this time
to also be on the Mountain Bike National Calendar. Other events are expected
to join these National Calendar events.
11 SERC#1 (AMBC) - Reddick, Florida
25 Chicksaw Trace Classic (AMBC*) - Columbia, TN
1 SERC#2 (AMBC) - Bryson City, NC
15 SERC#3 (AMBC) - Athens, GA
22 Tiger Rag (AMBC*)- Clemson, South Carolina
29 Greenbrier Challenge(AMBC*) - Frederick and Hagerstown, Maryland
6 SERC#4 (AMBC) - Ducktown, Tennessee
6 Stump Jump (AMBC*) - Spartanburg, South Carolina
20 5th annual Coyote Classic (AMBC*) - Boise, Idaho
26 - 27 Chile Challenge (AMBC*) - Angel Fire, New Mexico
27 SERC#5 (AMBC) - Jackson, Georgia
3 13th Annual Bump & Grind (AMBC*) - Pelham, Alabama
17 SERC#6 (AMBC) - Fontana, North Carolina
24 Dawg Dayz MTB Classic (AMBC) - North Little Rock, Arkansas
24 12th Annual Bulldog Rump (AMBC) - Andover, New Jersey
30 - 1 DINO Challenge (AMBC) - Vernon, Indiana
1 SERC#7 (AMBC) - Clemson, South Carolina
14 - 15 Blast the Mass (AMBC*) - Snowmass Village, Colorado
15 SERC#8 (AMBC) - Anniston, Alabama
18 - 19 Subaru Cup (AMBC*) - Mt Morris, Wisconsin
31 - 1 Camp Eagle Classic (AMBC*) - Rocksprings, Texas
15 - 16 Plattekille Extreme (AMBC*) - Roxbury, New York
6 Road Apple Rally (AMBC) - Farmington, New Mexico
14 Piney Hills Classic XIV (AMBC*) - Ruston, Louisiana
To see Cyclingnews' newly released full calendar of UCI and various
national mountain bike events, click
Australian national series Round #3 continues at Threadbo
The Australian national cross country and downhill series continued at
Threadbo on December 15-16th.
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Athens Olympian Sid Taberlay led from start to finish and claimed the
quickest lap of the day. After six laps and an overall time of 1:47.37,
Taberlay took the win in his stride. "I just powered up the hill
in the first lap and didn't see anyone after that," Taberlay said.
Adelaide based Chris Jongewaard had the unluckiest ride of the day after
riding five laps in second position before striking trouble. Jongewaard
missed a feed on the final lap before suffering a flat tyre that caused
him to drop six and a half minutes and finish in ninth place. Jongewaard
was passed by the trailing trio of Dylan Cooper, Aiden Lefmann, and team
mate Lachlan Norris who finished second, third and fourth respectively.
A third place by current series leader, Lefmann maintained his series
lead by a slim margin of two points
European-based rider Kate Potter caused an upset in the Elite Women's
category at Thredbo. Potter made the winning move just before the final
lap to pass early leader, Tory Thomas. A surge of energy from Potter was
too much for the current series leader, Thomas.
In the early laps Thomas looked like she had the race sewn up until an
old injury caused havoc on the climbing sections. The Victorian was told
she would never ride again in 2005 when she was serious injured after
being struck by a car. Thomas' second place by was enough to maintain
the series lead.
For the complete cross country race report, click
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
World bronze medallist Nathan Rennie proved he is one of the best mountain
bike downhillers in Australia by winning the third round of the National
Mountain Bike Series at Thredbo. The reigning national champion qualified
third fastest after blistering runs from Canberra's Ben Cory and Wollongong's
Amiel Cavalier claimed the top two positions. On his first event since
returning to Australia, course record holder Jared Rando placed second.
Current series leader, Amiel Cavalier, secured third place to maintain
his comfortable series lead with 178 points.
An upset in the women's downhill race saw veteran downhill rider Joanne
Fox take the win over the race favourite, Emma McNaughton, by a clear
four seconds. After being convinced by her husband at the last minute
to ride up with Elite Women, Fox was elated but exhausted at the finish
line. "I knew it wasn't going to be easy to win today," said
the Sydneysider. "The first thing I'm going to do is have something
to eat, I'm starving!"
For the complete downhill race report, click
Oregon and Scotland earn top marks on IMBA report card
According to the eighth edition of the 2006 IMBA report card, Oregon
and Scotland are the top places to mountain bike while Montana and British
Columbia need some remediation. The annual report card "gauges the
riding opportunities and advocacy strength in the United States, Canadian
Provinces and nations with significant IMBA activities." Unlike other
report card editions, IMBA no longer assigns letter grades to each state,
province, or country.
Oregon earned the Top Dog award for the US with grade of "A".
Besides its well-known trails, Oregon can boast a state-wide recreation
trail development plan and strong advocacy clubs like the Columbia Area
Mountain Bike Advocates (CAMBA), Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA),
Oregon Mountain Bike Alliance (ORMBA), and Portland United Mountain Pedalers
(PUMP). Two other recent accomplishments include a bike-friendly land
management plan for Mount Hood and the establishment of freeriding resources
by the Black Rock Mountain Bike Association (BRMBA) working with the Oregon
Department of Forestry. Last year, Virginia
took top honors among the states.
Internationally, Scotland was labelled "Global Superstar" with
an "A+" grade. Scotland is the first nation to win top honors
in two consecutive years, largely do to its efforts to promote the sport
in many ways including a nationwide plan for a network of bike parks on
Forestry Commission lands. The Scots have it covered from cross-country
to downhill riding, and their mountain bike centers are sometimes cited
as models of successful adventure tourism.
Montana was designated the "most endangered" mountain biking
place with "C-". Riding opportunities there are now in jeopardy
due to a Forest Service proposal to ban bikes from many roadless areas
across the state. The forest service is planning to treat bicycle travel
like motor vehicle traffic despite the fact bicycles are human powered
and quiet compared to motorized vehicles. 700 miles of singletrack are
at risk, and the state has few mountain bike advocates.
Despite its reputation as a mountain bike wonderland, British Columbia
was given "alert" status. A new plan could affect the way mountain
bike trails on Crown lands in British Columbia are managed. If the plan
is adopted, individual trailbuilders and mountain bike clubs will carry
the burden of maintaining trails to the government's standards, including
providing liability insurance for trails with technical features. If the
plan is adopted, it will put the onus on individual trailbuilders and
mountain bike clubs to maintain trails to the government's standards -
and possibly to provide liability insurance for trails with technical
features. Yet issues of where to acquire such insurance coverage and how
to pay for it have yet to be resolved. Because most trails in the province
are technical, the alert poses a risk to mountain biking across British
Two championship events for South America in 2007
Following a successful continental (aka Pan American) mountain bike championships
held in Brazil
in October of 2006, the Villa de la Angostura, in Argentina, will
host next year's continental championships in March 2007. In 2006, American
Mary McConneloug won the elite women's race while Columbian Hector Leonardo
Paez Leon, also the winner of the 2006 La Ruta stage race, took the men's
The Latin American championships will happen later in the year: June
29 - July1 in Medellin, Columbia. Look for Paez Leon to make his mark
on his home turf.
Highland Fling to serve as 2007 Australian marathon championships
Organizers of the VAUDE Highland Fling announced their annual event will
serve as the 2007 Australian mountain bike marathon championships next
year on November 11th. The race receives no sanctioning from MTBA and
no UCI ranking points although in 2006, the race attracted 1,100 riders
to its challenging course across the Southern Highlands of NSW.
In 2006, the same event announced itself as the Australian mountain bike
marathon championships, but controversy ensued, and the MTBA actually
award the 2006 title status to another marathon race in Queensland.
Team G Cross Honda announces team
Team G Cross Honda will return in 2007 with riders Greg Minnaar (Republic
of South Africa), Matti Lehikoinen (Finland), and new addition Brendan
Fairclough (Great Britain). All riders will contest the UCI World Cup
Downhill and selected Maxxis Cup events, British National Point Series
events, Crankworx, and the Lisbon Downtown.
Pushing hard at Angelfire
Photo ©: Marek Lazarski
Minnaar, 25-years-old, joined the squad in 2004 and begins his fourth
season. He would like to win worlds and take back the world cup overall
title he won in 2005.
Lehikoinen, 22-years-old had a successful 2006 by winning the world
cup of Brazil and the Red Bull Empire race in Peru and by finishing sixth
in the world cup overall. In his third season on the team, he targets
a top five World Cup overall finish and a few trips to the podium in individual
world cup races.
Fairclough, 18-years-old, won the inaugural Junior World Cup Downhill
overall in 2006. In addition to his two World Cup podiums as a junior,
Brendan impressed the team with his all-around approach to racing.
Martin Whiteley, Team Director, will serve as team director and lead
the squad to their first 2007 appearance at the Maxxis Cup in Gouveia
in Portugal on March 18th; however Minnaar will not start his season until
April at the opening round of the British National Points Series.
Gehbauer joins Multivan Merida Team
Robert Gehbauer (Austria)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
The Multivan Merida Biking Team has signed Austrian Robert Gehbauer,
who won the junior
world championships in Livigno in 2005 and then went on the secure
both the world and European junior championship titles in the sport of
Gehbauer joins other the rest of the team, which remains unchanged from
last year: Cyclingnews' diarist Gunn-Rita
Dahle Flesjaa, Nina Göhl, Ralph Näf, José Hermida,
and Moritz Milatz. The team will meet at its first training camp in Mallorca
"Im greatly looking forward to this fantastic opportunity,"
said the 19-year-old Gehbauer. "In years to come, I want to learn
as much as possible from these top athletes. And if possible Id
like to follow them in their footsteps of course." Team manager Andreas
Rottler hopes Gehbauer will give the team a strong presence in the U23
The teams two world champions, Dahle Flesjaa and Näf, are
preparing for the upcoming season in South Africa, while Hermida is competing
in cyclo-cross for the first time. Milatz is currently preparing for upcoming
races in Cyprus, and Göhl is training and studying at home in Freiburg,
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)