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MTB News & racing round-up for March 5, 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

Prize money, UCI status for '06 MTB Series

USA Cycling announced Friday that six of the seven 2006 National Mountain Bike Series events have been included on the UCI Calendar and USA Cycling will provide prize money for the UCI-sanctioned events.

The National Mountain Bike Series events in Fontana, Calif., May 5-7 and Banner Elk, N.C., June 10-11 have been granted Category 2 status from the UCI, while incumbent races in West Dover, Vt., June 17-18, Park City, Utah, July 8-9, Brian Head, Utah, August 5-6 and Snowmass Village, Colo., August 12-13 have received Category 1 status from the international governing body.

The events in Fontana and Banner Elk cannot obtain Category 1 designation as first-year events.

As a requirement for UCI sanctioning, USA Cycling has contributed more than $33,000 in prize money and inscription fees towards the national series - an important element in determining the number of start positions the U.S. will receive at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The six National Mountain Bike Series events, plus the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. July 20-23, will provide U.S. athletes the opportunity to accumulate points that factor into a nation's overall ranking.

Points earned between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 31, 2007 will count towards a nation's ranking and factor into the number of start positions a country receives at the 2008 Olympic Games.

The prize money contributed by USA Cycling for the national series events will be specific to men's and women's cross country races because they are only recognized mountain bike disciplines at the Olympic Games.

"The presence of UCI points for cross country athletes at seven events in the United States this year provides American athletes the much-desired opportunity to accumulate valuable points on their home turf," commented USA Cycling chief executive officer Gerard Bisceglia. "Although the prize money is one of the basic requirements of UCI inscription, it certainly adds to the prestige of events on the national series calendar."

In addition to securing more UCI-sanctioned events in the United States, USA Cycling will also announce plans next week for supporting its top professional riders to attend World Cup events in 2006 and 2007 in an effort to secure maximum start positions for the Beijing Games and further prepare athletes for world-class competition.

"The road to Beijing begins now," Bisceglia said. "These programs are extremely vital to maximum participation and success in 2008."

2006 National Mountain Bike Series Schedule

NMBS#1 May 5-7: Southridge Park - Fontana, Calif. (UCI C2)
NMBS#2 June 10-11: Sugar Mountain Resort - Banner Elk, N.C. (UCI C2)
NMBS#3 June 17-18: Mount Snow Resort - West Dover, Vt. (UCI C1)
NMBS#4 July 8-9: Deer Valley Resort - Park City, Utah (UCI C1)
NMBS#5 July 15-16: Infineon Raceway - Sonoma, Calif.
NMBS#6 Aug. 5-6: Brian Head Resort - Brian Head, Utah (UCI C1)
NMBS#7 Aug. 12-13: Snowmass Resort - Aspen, Colo. (UCI C1)

Running on empty out in the dirt; Cody Stevenson diary

Cody in action
Photo ©: Tim Bateman
(Click for larger image) Cody in action in Lithgow, where it was a bit dustier than your average road race

It has been a while since my last diary entry, and with the road racing light on at the moment I decided to go looking for some racing. I was mentioning the lack of racing down at work one day - whinging is probably a better description, and Brian 'Big Dog' Price who I work with at Panther Cycles mentioned there was a four hour endurance mountain bike race on at Yellowmundee. I thought, "awww, four hours on an MTB can't be that hard...how wrong I was!"

I borrowed a bike, pulled out my old shoes - I hadn't worn them since my last MTB ride (four years earlier) - and discovered I really had become an uptight roady; with my white socks and fear of getting dirty, etc. I rocked up on the day, welcomed by a few funny looks and a voice in the distance sniggering and echoing something along the lines of "does that roady know what he has got himself in for?" Apparently not!

After running to my bike, something else I have never had to do in lycra, I smashed out a good first two hours. "...It ain't that bad - the technical sections I can handle, the climbs, no problem..." but come hour three the cramps started - big problem! On the last two laps of the course I had to stop and massage my legs a couple of times. Unfortunately, the downhill sections gave no respite to my aching body and on the 11th lap, after I had fallen from second to fourth (d'oh!) I cramped so badly going down the technical corkscrew-type downhill section that I could easily have been mistaken for an ironing board riding a bike!

Read the entire Cody Stevenson diary here.

Yeti and FOX Racing team up

Yeti rider Jared Graves
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
Click for larger image

Yeti Cycles and FOX Racing Shox announced this week that they have have joined forces to field a world-class MTB team. Team members Jared Graves, Justin Leov, Rich Houseman, Ross Milan and T.J. Sharp will compete in downhill and gated races at NORBA nationals, UCI World Cups and the Sea Otter Classic.

For both companies, the benefits of sponsoring these athletes goes beyond the possible results their athletes can gain. In top-level racing, the world’s best riders push frames and suspension parts to inhuman extremes — and that’s where Yeti and FOX learn most about performance and durability.

"Take the FOX 40 downhill fork for example," Says Mark Fitzsimmons, FOX’s Mountain Bike Race Program Manager. "It started as an open bath design, but race testing pushed the team to design a closed damper cartridge that works better and is lighter. Without a dedicated race-driven development team, this kind of innovation just isn’t possible.”

Yeti's 303DH was developed from a tight collaboration between Graves, Yeti and FOX. Graves described where the bike felt great and where it could feel better, then Yeti and FOX worked together to create the optimum wheel path, spring rate and damping characteristics. The team made a prototype one week, raced it the next week, and kept repeating the cycle until the bike was dialed. Graves finished the season ranked first in the downhill in the NMBS National Series.

“It’s a great relationship,” says Chris Conroy, Yeti president and general manager. “We’re not choosing what suspension brand to use after we design the frame. FOX is fully integrated into the product development process. This integrated thinking allows us to tweak the product that last five percent, and that’s what it takes to perform well at the World Cup level.”

“By the time we release a bike to the market,” says Conroy, “it’s been through a few race seasons, and it’s the best you can get.”

The 2006 Yeti-FOX Racing Team:

  • Jared Graves - 2005 NMBS Downhill and 4X 1st overall, UCI World Cup 4X 5th overall.
  • Justin Leov - 2005 UCI World Cup Downhill 10th overall.
  • Rich Houseman - 2005 NMBS Downhill 16th overall. 4X 6th overall.
  • Ross Milan - 2005 NMBS 4X 11th overall.

Graves and Leov will contest all UCI World Cups, as well as non-conflicting NORBA Nationals. Houseman, Milan and Sharp will race the NORBA Nationals and North American World Cup races. The team will be managed by Damion Smith, who also has a fast pedigree (2001 Semi-Pro DH Champion). Houseman will help run the team and take care of logistics in the U.S.

Early registration open for IMBA Summit

Registration is open for the International Mountain Bike Association's IMBA Summit and World Mountain Bike Conference (Whistler, BC, June 20-23, 2006). The event promises to be the largest single gathering of mountain bike advocates ever. Register before March 31 and you'll save $100 per registrant. Other great Early Bird specials include a chance to register three people and pay for two, a free one-day pass for the Whistler Bike Park and automatic entry for the Whistler Drive & Ride Vacation Package giveaway.

Get the full details on Early Bird registration and prizes visit www.worldmountainbikeconference.com.

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