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MTB News & racing round-up for January 11, 2006

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

NZ National MTB Series; race 1 wrap-up

Fierce competition between Marcus Roy and Clinton Avery, the reemergence of Brendan Sharratt as a competitive cross country rider and an injury to Tim Wilding were the key features of the elite men's cross country race in the first round of the 2006 New Zealand Community Trust Mountain Bike National Series held in Dunedin on Sunday.

The 20-year-old Avery had a fast start and took an early lead but Marcus Roy caught up mid way through the fist lap, and a tussle for first place continued throughout the six laps of the race. Wanganui rider Sharratt, having his first race back in the national series for a number of years, showed he was still a contender for selection in the Oceania and world championships to be held in Rotorua later this year with a comfortable third placing.

With a field of 28 proven elite riders, strong competition was expected, and the riders didn't disappoint. In an exciting finish to the race, Avery came back from a 33-second deficit midway through the final lap to sprint to an eight second win over Roy.

Former Commonwealth Games and Olympic representative Robyn Wong (Wellington) had a fantastic start with Annika Smail, ranked number two in the series, in close pursuit. Local rider Erin Greene has plenty of crowd support and delivered with a formidable third placing. In keeping with the format of the day, a sprint finish also decided the elite women's winner, with Smail overtaking Wong on the final lap to start the 2006 season with a win.

Next week's race at Coronet Peak will see an even bigger field in both the Elite Men and Women with national representative Kashi Leuchs returning to the series and Sonia Foote making her first appearance.

For complete New Zealand National Series #1 results, click here.

Aussie National Series round 4 preview

Australia's National Mountain Bike Championships get underway this weekend in Mt. Beauty, Victoria (near falls creek). On deck are both the men and women's cross country races and Commonwealth Games selection for elites, juniors and espoirs. Also planned for Mt. Beauty is the first-ever Aussie Short Track National Championship.

2006 Singlespeed World's set for Stockholm, Sweden

In the unorthodox way that such an decision is made, the Internet is alive with buzz that the site of the 2006 Singlespeed World Championships has been awarded to a group from Stockholm, Sweden. According to Nick Sande of Surly Bicycles, he and Skip Bernet, who placed last in a special derby at the 2005 World Championships used to determine the 2006 selection committee, considered "about sixteen proposals. Most of them were serious, a couple of them worthless, and six of them were good enough to make this a very difficult decision."

For the complete story about the site selection, check out Sande's blog entries on www.surlybikes.com and stay tuned to Cyclingnews for more information about 2006 Singlespeed World's as it develops.

Signings at GT team

By Steve Medcroft

Early this week, GT Bicycles announced the re-signings of U.S. Cyclo-cross National Champion Todd Wells and mountain-biking patriarch Hans Rey and the signing South African Burry Stander to their 2006 MTB roster.

Stander rides cross-country and short-track MTB and 2006 will be his first year as a pro. Career highlights include being the South African Junior XC champion in 2003, 2004 and in 2005. Also in 2005, Stander took first at the Sandpoint XC and STXC races as well as the Snowmass STXC competition.

"My highlights in 2005 were definitely the three NORBA junior races that I won on my first trip to the states," Stander said. "In 2006 I hope to finish in a top five position in the NORBA STXC or XC Series." Stander announced that he will be racing "all the NORBAs, Sea Otter, Commonwealth Games, South African Championships and a few World Cups."

Wells returns to GT after a season capped by a win at Cyclo-cross National's and with an ambitious schedule for 2006. His 2005 highlights (as well as the 'cross championship) include first at the Park City NORA short track, third at the Brain Head short track, second in both the U.S. cross-country and short track national championships, second overall at the Tour of Connecticut Stage Road Race, first in the Tour of the Gila criterium and first at the USGP 'cross race in San Francisco. Whew!

Hans Rey, the consummate performer and the Godfather of Freeride, returns to the GT squad in 2006 for his 20th year. Rey was also featured on 20 magazine covers in 2005 and launched his charity, 'Wheels 4 Life'. "My other 2005 highlights were my two main Adventure Team trips to Copper Canyon, Mexico and the Alta Rezia (in the Swiss/Italian Alps) Freeride," he said.

Rey's plans are to focus on Adventure Team trips in 2006. "I'm looking at several possible destinations, including the Philippines, Greenland, and Turkey," he said. "I will also continue working closely with my sponsors, doing trials shows, workshops, and other PR-related stuff."

For more information on GT's athletes and bikes, visit their web site at www.GTBicycles.com

Iron Horse Bikes team news

Iron Horse Bicycles announced the signing of French downhill star Sabrina Jonnier to a two year agreement this week. Jonnier will campaign the 2006 UCI World Cup downhill and 4X schedule for Team Iron Horse/Mad Catz.

Currently in Perth, Australia training for the 2006 season with teammate Sam Hill. During the 2005 season, Jonnier made the podium at every event she entered including winning the Sea Otter Classic Gravity Omnium, U.S. Open, and two UCI World Cups. Jonnier also picked up a Silver Medal at the World Championships and finished second at the European Championships.

Iron Horse also re-sealed their existing sponsorship of Sam Hill. Hill is fresh off another successful World Cup race season (two UCI World Cup wins, 2nd overall UCI World Cup Series, UCI World Championship Silver Medalist, and U.S. Open Champion).  Sam will continue his success onboard Iron Horse Bikes through the 2008 race season.

Hill will focus will U.S. Open, UCI World Cup Series, UCI World Championships, and select North American and Australian National events. 

Berrecloth in Discovery Channel stunt

Darren Berrecloth
Photo ©: Specialized
(Click for larger image) Robbie McEwen (Volvo Team T5) leans into a corner at Portarlington

Specialized Factory rider and BMX stunt envelope-pusher Darren Berrecloth was selected to be one of the first athletes to be featured on the Discovery Channel's new series "Stunt Junkies." Each 60-minute episode of Stunt Junkies takes viewers behind the scenes of an unimaginable stunt, for a close look at what it's like to push the limits of personal expression and defy danger.

During the filming of Berrecloth's episode, the Discovery Channel paid a visit to Specialized and got an inside look at how the rider's latest bike, a 2006 Specialized Demo 8, was engineered, tested and built. With the Discovery Channel cameras rolling, Berrecloth also took the time to launch from a two-story high loading dock into the Specialized warehouse. "We've had a lot of interesting things happen around the office in the past thirty something years, but nothing that crazy," said Specialized founder and president, Mike Sinyard.

Berrecloth's episode of "Stunt Junkies" will appear on February 1, 2006 at 10pm on the Discovery Channel.

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