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Photo ©: Bettini

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MTB News & racing round-up for March 16, 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

Stepping on twenty-nine inch landmines

One of the most heated debates in bike technology at the moment is between adherents of the relatively new "29-inch" wheel size for mountain bikes and users of regular wheel sizes. Over the next couple of weeks we'll be taking a look at the pros and cons of the new format. To start with, Cyclingnews mountain bike editor Steve Medcroft looks at the passions stirred by a recent article on the topic.

After we published a short feature about Durango-based ultra-endurance mountain biker Dave Harris' performance test between his 26-inch and 29-inch format bikes, Harris received a lot of feedback. “I got quite a few comments on my blog,” he says. “There were a hundred-ish emails in my in-box too (all but a couple are positive, thank goodness), and the (mountain biking) forums are going nuts over it.”

Cyclingnews received its fair share of feedback too. Ryan Atkinson, assistant brand manager for Gary Fisher, Lemond and Klein Bicycles, wrote that he felt Harris' study lacked scientific credibility. He alluded to way Harris' went about his comparison of the two formats with a point summed up pretty well by reader Jay Parkhill of Menlo Park, California. “…it sounds like this test was run between a full suspension bike and a soft tail. It is very nice that Mr. Harris tried to normalize gearing and tire choices, but the difference in frame designs seems like a huge uncontrolled variable.”

Click here for the full article.

Absalon on track for strong 2006

Julien Absalon wasted no time proving he was carrying the same kind of form and prepration that he used to win the World Championships in 2005; the twenty-five year old Frenchman lit up the the Liquigas Cup in Sinnai, Sardegna, Italy February 24th, proving that he has been careful with his off-season.

"My winter preparation was very good," the 2004 Olympic Gold Medallist said early this week. "I have participated in two races in Mexico and the Reunion (Megavalanche; held on a French-owned island just off Madagascar in the Indian Ocean). I also raced some cyclo-cross and practiced cross country skiing."

Absalon says the cross training has paid off. "Right now, I'm ahead of my preparation compared to other years." Absalon says his aim for 2006 is to carry that fitness to World Cup and World Championship title. He plans to open his World Cup campaign April 1st in Curaçao.

Sweet az in Kiwiland; the Geoff Kabush diary

Hello again to everyone; the 2006 race season has officially started for me with some frequent flyer miles and a trip to NZ for the Oceania Champs. Sweet az...as they say down here, but why am I doing the Oceania Champ's you might ask? Well a Canuck normally isn't allowed to do the Oceania Champ's, but seeing as Rotorua is the site of the World's later this year, the organisers decided to let a few internationals come down to check it out. It's also really nice as I get in a first little race effort of the year before I head over to Australia in a couple of weeks to do a little race called the Commonwealth Games.

The "offy" or winter went pretty smoothly this year; had a good little travel break after World's last year and actually got to be a tourist in Europe for a couple of weeks with Keri. After that I came back to America for Interbike and then messed around for a couple of cyclo-cross weekends; going to do a few more of those this year. I then avoided any real training and getting too fat by running and swimming in preparation for Xterra World's; I figured it was a pretty good excuse to go to Hawaii. It made sense as my whole family was over there watching my sister compete - I did manage to beat my sister by the way. I also managed to survive a few pummelings on the boogie board and surfboard and made it back to home base Albuquerque to start training "for reals" in November.

After that things rolled along through the winter months with a trip with Keri up to home base Victoria to scout wedding locations (Oct. 7th, 2006 is our date), and see a Canucks game, followed by a mid-winter mental break trip to Mexico in January with the Pink family. Oh yeah, and another trip to Phoenix to check out wedding stuff for Keri and a Canucks game for me; the Canucks are undefeated when I watch and I figure they are going to go all the way this year. I managed to stay healthy all winter I am a bit worried as the good weather has followed me everywhere and I have only had to train in the rain for half an hour. I am wondering if I might be getting a bit soft.

Read the entire Geoff Kabush diary here.

The season starts in Italy; the Gunn-Rita Dahle diary

It's great to be on the go again with a new season of cycling. The menu for first race of the year included lots of mud and freezing cold weather, but even so it was wonderful to take part in the Italian winter championships in cross country today. I won the race, here in the town of Volpago del Montello, just outside Treviso - a very positive start to the season. The result is very encouraging and shows that we've been working correctly through the winter and are headed in the right direction.

It's been raining hard all night, and it was bucketing down as we stood lined up at the start of the race, so we didn't have to spend long deciding what tyres to use today. Maxxis Medusa 1.8 mud tyres are very trustworthy in such conditions, but braking, however, is a different story on days like this. I had to make some adjustments along the way, but managed to stay on my bike most of the time. However, on the last lap there wasn't much rubber left on my brake pads. Today I should definitely have used disc brakes instead. So it was a somewhat uncontrolled Gunn-Rita on the way in to the finish, but I had no major crashes.

We were already in the north of Italy (Montebelluna, 50 miles from Venice) on Friday afternoon and both thought it was great being back here again. Italy is one of our very favourite countries, and it's really nice to be spending a good two weeks here. The final week on Mallorca gave us mostly good weather for training, and we were able to have many effective and important exercise sessions before we left. We can look back on three good and enjoyable weeks at Hotel Sol Antillas in Megaluf, with lots of great help from the Phillips Bike Team. I've written this before, but am glad to mention it once again. If you would like to take a wonderful and exciting holiday combined with biking activities, this is the best place you can go.

Read the entire Gunn-Rita Dahle diary here

Hill and Jonnier headlines 2006 Team MadCatz/Iron Horse

The Monster Energy/Iron Horse/Mad Catz racing announced its team for the upcoming 2006-competition season.

The team led thing off by signing twenty-one year old Australian Sam Hill to additional three years. A two-time Junior World Champion (2002-'03) and two-time US Open Champion, Hill finished second in the UCI World Cup downhill standings the past two years (2004-'05). Hill has also won medals at the World Championships the past two seasons, collecting a Bronze in '04 and a silver this past summer. Hill will again focus on the UCI World Cup series this summer, the UCI World Championships (Aug. 22-27 in New Zealand) and at select ‘big time' events throughout the world.

Joining Hill in men's competition will be fellow Australian Justin Havukainen. In his sophomore year on the team, the twenty-two year old cracked the top ten last year on the UCI World Cup tour and blazed to a podium finish in the US Open. This summer Havukainen will focus on North American events, including the NCS National Series, North American World Cup races and the US Open.

Also joining the team is Sabrina Jonnier. Considered to be a lock on the podium in any race she enters, Jonnier, 25, was last year's US Open Champion, placed second overall on the UCI World Cup Series and scored a silver medal at the UCI World Championships.

Haro's new Sonix platform
Photo ©: Haro
(Click for larger image)

Demo a Haro at the NORBA Marathon opener in Phoenix

Haro is letting people get their hands on their latest MTB models at the Nova Desert Classic March 24-26. "Just stop by the Haro pit area and take one for a test ride," says company spokesperson Jill Hamilton. "We'll have all three Sonix models available to demo in a variety of sizes. Just make sure you bring your helmet and pedal of choice (if you don't use Shimano SPD)."

The Sonix, in case you haven't seen one, features Haro's patent pending Virtual Link suspension technology; a virtual pivot that moves in a half-orbit around the bottom bracket. Haro claims the design eliminates pedal-induced bobbing while leaving the rear wheel free to respond to the terrain.

For more information on the Sonix, visit www.harosonix.com.

Ray's MTB Park to be featured on CNN

On February fifth, Ray's Indoor MTB Park (Cleveland) hosted the "3Ride Pro Invitational" featuring freeride and MTB stars such as GT pros Brian Lopes and Hans Rey. The event was covered by a CNN reporter and will air in the U.S. as a segment on the 'Anderson Cooper 360' show multiple times Saturday March 18th and Sunday March 19th.

As ridden by Fabien Barel
Photo ©: Kona
(Click for larger image)

Kona offers World Championship replica bike

In 2005, Kona team rider Fabien Barel captured the Downhill Mountain Bike World Championship title for the second year in a row. To celebrate the accomplishment, Kona is releasing a limited edition run of replicas of his Championship-winning Stab Supreme. The bike features the team paint scheme (complete with World Champion stripes) and comes with team sponsor decals in the parts kits.

The replicas are available through Kona dealers.

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