MTB news & racing round-up for November 12, 2006
Edited by Sue George
Mountain bikers' sanctions raise questions
In the past week, USADA has reported one-year sanctions for three US
mountain bikers, and another possible sanction is in process. What all
the athletes have in common is that they missed an anti-doping control
after a major race.
Cyclingnews reported that Jason Sager of Park City, Utah, and
Cale Redpath of Durango, Colorado, "failed
to present themselves for testing following the NORBA National Mountain
Bike Series Race #4 in Deer Valley, Utah" on July 8th, and Alice
to show up for an anti-doping control" after the NORBA Series
final event in Snowmass, Colorado, August 12th. In addition, Bart Gillespie,
a 32-year-old racer from Utah, missed a doping control at another UCI
Is USADA getting better at catching mountain bikers who dope or is something
else going on? The question can not be answered with any certainty, but
it is worth taking a closer look at information surrounding the cases.
The men's race at a NORBA National
Photo ©: Susan Candee
According to the USADA's information about the testing procedure on their
website, "The DCO [doping control officer] is obligated to make a
reasonable effort to locate the athlete for testing. Before reporting
to USADA that an athlete is unavailable for testing the DCO is specifically
required to visit within a 24 hour period all locations on the Athlete
Location Form and any applicable Athlete Change of Plan Form provided
by the athlete." Interpretations of "reasonable effort"
Sager dropped out of the Deer Valley event after he'd finished the originally
scheduled three laps only to discover he had one to go. He decided not
to complete the race and spent some time at the finish area watching other
riders. According to his blog, "there wasn't another lap in the legs.
Absolutely deflated, I watched a few guys race through, chatted with friends
and family in the start/finish area for several minutes, and eventually
rode home." The next day, he learned that he had missed a drug test
and he contacted USADA to find out more.
Sager, a father of one, has been on the out-of-competition-control list
since January 1, 2006. He has never otherwise been sanctioned for doping.
Being on that list means an athlete must inform USADA of his or her whereabouts
at all times and never be more than two hours away from being tested when
called. Sager commented on the out-of-competition tests, "Though
it's a burden, it's one I support in the effort to demonstrate that our
sport is made of clean athletes. I'll submit to their tests, on demand,
as they request."
In the information that Sager received with notification of his positive
test and associated ban, USADA's chief officials had noted that staffing
at the Deer Valley event was "inadequate," and that testing
facilities were relatively distantly located. Two male chaperones were
on site to escort all podium finishers and randomly assigned competitors
to the drug testing area, which was in a basement about 200m from the
finish. There were no signs directing athletes to the location.
Sager claims he was not notified that he was called for random testing.
He was not told at the start, nor did he see the whiteboard that is supposed
to be adjacent to the start/finish and posted with randoms. Sager doesn't
dispute the board was there, but was unable "to find an athlete willing
to testify that he physically saw it."
USADA did locate a third pro male rider selected for random testing that
day, but he said would be willing to testify "that he was only aware
of testing because there was a chaperone who grabbed him in the finish
chute." Sager never finished the race, so no chaperone could pull
him as he crossed the line.
Sager said, "I am not here to dispute the missing the test, and
I never have. I never made excuses for anything, but I do have to ask
why we weren't notified in an adequate manner, and of course, I contested
the sanction." Sager received a large bundle of documents along with
a letter strongly encouraging him to sign off on his two year ban. However,
he followed the procedure to write a letter of "compelling justification"
to explain why he missed the test. His letter was rejected, and he was
issued a two year ban. He then went through the arbitration process which
has three possible outcomes: no fault, no substantial fault, and substantial
fault. Only one athlete, Genevieve Jeanson ever received a "no fault"
ruling under arbitration. While Sager was found not to be "significantly
at fault", he was sanctioned for one year for a first offense.
In Gillespie's case, he heard the announcement before his race that doping
controllers would test the winner and two randoms after the event according
to his blog. When he crossed the line, he saw the doping control officer
grab one guy and heard the name of a second selection announced, so he
figured he was not being tested that day. The 32-year-old Utah rider found
out a few hours later that he was an alternate for testing after being
called when someone else did not show up. He returned to the event several
hours later, but it was too late. The wheels of process were already in
motion. Final word on his case is pending.
At the very least, these cases suggest that US Mountain bikers could
benefit from more communication regarding anti-doping testing at racing
Simonson & Emmett win Iceman Cometh
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
Mike Simonson and Kelli Emmett won the 17th Annual Iceman Cometh race
near Travers City, Michigan. Both won in a similar style--solo and off
the front. This year 2,800 racers tackled the course at this popular,
season-ending race. Unlike many other years, racers enjoyed near-perfect
course conditions over the 28.5 mile point to point route.
Race director Steve Brown said, "We had a very wet October. Since
we live on a big sand dune, the water packed the course down really well
and made it fast. This was as good as it can get in Michigan." Amateur
racers started early in the morning and faced below-freezing temperatures,
but the day stayed clear except for occasional light snow and rain showers.
Pro racers started later in the day, in a second wave, but they still
competed in temperatures just above freezing.
Kelli Emmett (Ford) convincingly won the women's race by nearly eight
minutes. "I felt really good. It's the strongest I've ever felt at
an Iceman. I went right from the gun." This was the fourth time Emmett
won the race out of more than a half dozen appearances. "I'm from
Michigan, and it's a race I've always done, usually with my dad. Unfortunately,
he was very sick this year, so he couldn't do it." Emmett kept her
dad in mind as she raced to victory in front of friends and family.
Left on her own for the duration of the race, Emmett says she kept motivated
by racing with the men. "I raced with the guys for most of the race.
They encouraged me and pushed me."
Emmett finished ahead of second-place Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek/VW).
Johnson suffered from end-of-season burnout as she tackled her second-ever
Iceman. "I felt sluggish. I didn't have a good race. Then I lost
my contact about 10 miles into the race. I contemplated quitting because
the race is so sandy, you need to be able to see well to pick your lines.
But I didn't want to quit." Poor vision notwithstanding, Kylander-Johnson
rode most of her race alone. "It was a time trial."
The men's race started fast and furious. Mike Simonson said, "I
took off right from the start and got a 20 foot gap. I punched it a few
more times, but both Brian and Tristan followed me. Going into the singletrack,
Brian hit his pedal on a tree or something, so my gap opened up."
Simonson extended it ultimately to about a minute.
He sustained the gap throughout the race, but he said, "I couldn't
see second place and didn't know how far back he was until we both finished."
This was his first victory after competing in the race for seven consecutive
years. What did he do differently this year? "I raced a different
bike. I went with a 29'er."
Cyclingnews' James Huang, who also competed in the race, noticed
the prevalence of 29'ers at this year's race. "It was the perfect
course for them. It was pretty flat, mostly doubletrack, with some singletrack
Starting the pros later in the day, after amateurs had a chance to finish
their races and clean-up, meant the elite men and women were greeted at
the finish by large crowds. Johnson said, "I'd estimate there were
4,000 spectators at the finish." So many racers and spectators suggest
mountain bike racing is alive and well in the mid-west.
Pro Expert Women
1 Kelli Emmett (Ford) 1.47.21
2 Sara Kylander-Johnson (Trek-Vw) 7.51
3 Jessica Woodard (Custer Cyclery) 9.51
4 Heather Holmes (Ford Cycling Team) 11.43
5 Laura Webb (Priority Health) 16.03
6 Kristina Andrus (Dean Bicycles) 16.46
7 Marne Smiley (Xterra) 22.11
8 Brinn Pope (Dean Usa) 24.54
9 Lisa Markley (Wolverine Sports Club) 26.07
10 Julie Bellerose 30.53
Pro/Semi Pro Men
1 Mike Simonson 1.36.57
2 Tristan Schouten (Trek-Vw) 0.29
3 Brian Matter (Pcw Hyundai) 1.05
4 Randy Laprairie (Macomb Bike & Fitness) 4.40
5 Jesse Lalonde (Gary Fisher) 4.46
6 Robert Herriman (American Cycle & Fitness) 4.55
7 Dan Jansen (Founders Ale-alger Racin) 6.30
8 Jason Buccellato (Klm) 6.31
9 Jason Lummis 7.22
10 Cole House 7.28
NZs premier mountain bike race attracts international sponsor
Photo ©: Karapoti Classic
New Zealands Karapoti Classic, the longest running mountain bike
event in the Southern Hemisphere, received international recognition with
the signing of Scott Bicycles as its naming rights sponsor. Scott may
renew sponsorship for up to five years.
Established in 1986, Wellingtons Karapoti Classic has been a key
race in New Zealand mountain biking for more than 20 years. It was the
first to attract 100 riders and the first to attract 1,000 riders, now
the events self-imposed entry limit. Racers are drawn to a 50km
course through Upper Hutts scenic, but rugged Akatarawa Ranges.
Last year's event attracted riders from 11 countries.
Scott is excited to be behind New Zealands premier mountain
bike event, said Colin Walker, who helped arrange the sponsorship.
Initially a world leading innovator in the ski market, Scott ventured
in to the bicycle market in 1986 with innovations in the mountain bike
and triathlon markets. In more recent years, Scott has focused on carbon
fiber technology, and the 2007 edition of the race will correspond to
the launch of Scott's new lightweight carbon-fiber Spark bike.
Last year's winner
Photo ©: Karapoti Classic
Launched only this week, organizers report they already have 300 entrants
toward the 1,000-rider limit. The Karapoti waiting list has created a
culture of its own, with last years 500-strong waiting list prompting
Karapoti Classic entry auctions on TradeMe.
Karapotis popularity never fails to amaze us, says
event manager Michael Jacques of MDJ Media & Events Ltd. Last
year we sold out shortly after New Year, but right now we have twice as
many entries as November last year so we think the 2007 event could be
full before Christmas.
In 2006, the record entries also brought a record winning time. Australian
professional Peter Hatton clocked 2 hours, 18 minutes and 1 second to
smash the record set by Kiwi Olympian Kashi Leuchs in 1998 by almost three
minutes. Up and coming Rotorua rider Clinton Avery also broke the old
Some wet riding
Photo ©: Karapoti Classic
This year organizers are hoping to pit Hatton and Avery against the old
record holder Leuchs and world champions Tim Vincent and Craig Gordon.
Vincent, from Nelson, and Gordon, from Australia, have both won 24-hour
mountain biking world titles. Vincent has won the Karapoti Classic three
times (01, 03, 05), while Hatton (04, 06)
and Leuchs (98, 02) have both won twice.
Organizers will attempt to match up several past women's winners: former
world junior champions Nathalie Schneitter (Switzerland) and Lisa Mathison
(Australia), and Commonwealth Games silver medalist Rosara Joseph (New
US ski ace Bode Miller gets a mountain bike
Bode Miller's new mountain bike.
Photo ©: BMC
US skiing star Bode Miller is not planning to trade in his skis for a
bike, but he recently received a new BMC Superstroke 01 mountain bike
for use when cross training off the slopes.
Miller became a household name after he won two silver medals in the
Giant Slalom and Combined events at the 2002 Winter Olympics. As a teenager,
Miller shaved seconds off his World Cup times by using what were then
innovative hourglass-shaped ("parabolic") skis. He drew attention
to himself in the 2002 Olympic Slalom race, during which he hiked back
up the course and then finished anyway after missing a gate.
The American ski star will use his bike for more mobility at world cup
venues. For example, it will be a quicker way for him to get to media
conferences. He'll also warm up on his bike on rollers right before the
start of a race.
Referring enthusiastically to his new machine, Miller said, "What
a fantastic bike!"
Winter downhilling in Switzerland
Freefall Zermatt announced a downhill race coming on December 10th on
Switzerland's longest ski run. The course will travel from the Matterhorn
glacier down to the town of Zermatt. Racers will drop 2,222m in less than
20 minutes after a Le Mans style mass start.
Promoters described the course as "long and wide for the first half"
and "narrow, steep and full of curves in the second half." They
also advised participants to dress warmly given typically frigid temperatures
at nearly 4000m in December.
Coffs Coast Cycling Club gets new name
Coffs Harbour Cycle Club has changed its name to Coffs Coast Cycling
Club. The club will host a three-hour mountain bike race on November 26th.
It also plans an enduro event for next July. Coffs Coast has previously
hosted rounds of the State Downhill Championships & Cross Country
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)