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MTB & 'cross news & racing round-up for September 23, 2006

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Heather Irmiger breaks-out; again


(Click for larger image)
With husband JHK on the podium at Brian Head
Photo ©: Susan Candee

What makes a successful mountain biker? Is it an all-star training partner, support of a world-class team, the inspiration of a mother's love for the sport? Cyclingnews MTB Editor Steve Medcroft has chatted with Subaru/Gary Fisher rider Heather Irmiger several times through the 2006 season and thinks it may be all of the above:

Heather Irmiger had a prolific 2006 mountain-bike season; she won the NORBA National Series cross country race in Brian Head, Utah and the Teva Mountain Games in her home state of Colorado, managed second in NORBA cross-country an impressive three times in seven overall NORBA podium appearances. She traveled to all six World Cup cross country races for the first time in her career to help her country gain UCI points in its quest to boost the number of riders it gets to send to Beijing for the 2008 summer Olympics, competed at the world championships in Roturoa, New Zealand in September and even finished second in the U.S. cross-country national championship race in Sonoma, California in July.

By looking at the season, you might say that the charismatic former scientist (Subaru/Gary Fisher) had a breakout year. You might be surprised to know that you're wrong.; you can't call a rider that made it onto one of the world's elite mountain-bike teams just now breaking out. You can't say that an athlete who has won at the elite-level (first NORBA win came at Brian Head, Utah in 2005), or is a former collegiate champion, or who has stood on a national championship podium before (2004) just breaking out.

Instead, you could say that Heather Irmiger has finally started to evolve to her potential. And you can chalk this 2006 season up to a number of elements, not the least of which are a handful of key relationships in Irmiger's life.

Read the rest of Part 1 and all of Part 2 of the Heather Irmiger profile here.

Vervecken wins Aalterse Jaarmarkttrofee; Nys has a run in with spectator

World cyclo-cross champion Erwin Vervecken has won the Aalterse Jaarmarkttrofee in a three man sprint, beating Sven Vanthourenhout and Niels Albert at the end of an eventful race. The winner of the last two editions, Sven Nys (Rabobank) had a run-in with a spectator, who moved a barricade into his path, causing him to crash. Nys punched the spectator, then reported him to the police.

"I did that because I really had the impression that the man wanted to take me down," explained Nys. "In that, he succeeded. After the incident, Peter van den Abeele came to me with the guy. He told me that he did not want to hit me and was even a supporter of me. But when he gave a false address, I went to the police. My season could have ended here."

For full results from Aalterse Jaarmarkttrofee, click here.

US Gran Prix of Cyclocross schedule for 2006

2005 series winner Barry Wicks (Kona)
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
Click for larger image

Building on the success of the last two years, organizers and racers are gearing up for the 2006 Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. The six race series looks once again to attract the best racers from across North America to compete for the series overall championship and an automatic USA Cycling world championship berth.

“Thanks to Crank Brothers and all of our sponsors, we are able to continue to expand on the success of the U.S. Gran Prix in this our third year,” said Bruce Fina, marketing director of the U.S. Gran Prix. “In addition to the world-class racing, we have additional sponsors, four new venues and innovative community programs that reflect the growth and popularity of the sport in the United States. I anticipate this will be our best series ever.”

In addition to new sponsors, the 2006 U.S. Gran Prix will visit five ‘cross venues in different areas of the country - four of which are new this year. The series kicks off with two days of racing in Gloucester, Mass. on October 7th – 8th. Then it’s onto the first of the four new venues as the series travels next to Colorado with stops in Longmont on November 4th and Boulder on November 5th. The series will culminate in the Pacific Northwest with stops in Lakewood, Washington and in Portland, Oregon on November 18th and 19th respectively.

The organizers of the U.S. Gran Prix have also implemented two new initiatives focused on the people and communities that continue to drive the popularity of this sport. In addition to the Clif Bar venue sustainability program, organizers will also raise funds and awareness for the Fast Freddie Foundation (FFF) and local junior cycling teams. Founded by Fred Rodriguez, the mission of the FFF is “to support young cyclists in achieving their goals in cycling and beyond.” Additionally, every rider and spectator will have the opportunity to purchase a ‘Cool Tag’ which will enable them to offset the environmental impact of traveling to the race with the ultimate goal of making the series ‘Climate Neutral.’

Full schedule:

Race 1, October 7: Gloucester, Massachusetts
Race 2, October 8: Gloucester, Massachusetts
Race 3, November 4th: Longmont, Colorado
Race 4, November 5th: Boulder, Colorado
Race 5, November 18th: Lakewood, Washington
Race 6, November 19th: Portland, Oregon

Boulder Cup Cyclo-cross announced

Organizers of the "Boulder Cup" Cyclocross race, announced that the 2006 edition of the event will be held Sunday November 5 at Boulder's Harlow Platts Park located behind Fairview High School in South Boulder.

The Boulder Cup will be the 4th stop on the schedule of the 2006 Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, the premier cyclocross series in the United States incorporating races from across the country. The six race fall classic will attract the best racers from across North America who compete for the series overall championship and an automatic USA Cycling world championship berth.

Boulder Cup promoter Chris Gealish says that "Boulder and Colorado are a hot bed of Cyclocross racing in the US and we made the commitment to organize a high quality race in a venue that represents the best of Boulder." Boulder elite level racers will be well represented among both the men and women's fields.

Besides the racing action, other activities for race day include an Expo Area featuring product demonstrations, food and beverage vendors and the Boulder Beer Garden featuring samples of their Cyclocross Ale specially brewed for the racing season. Expect to see the most ardent fans ringing cowbells and blowing horns while decked out in crazy costumes; it's all part of the "Euro-cross" tradition that has been adopted by fans in the US.

Charm City Cross in Baltimore this weekend

The BikeReg.com MABRAcross Series kicks off it’s 2006 campaign this Sunday, September 24 in Baltimore, Maryland with the Charm City Cyclocross in the city’s Druid Hill Park as a benefit for the Special Olympics.

This year’s Charm City Cyclocross will benefit the Special Olympics and will also feature an unusual Special Olympics race following the regular program. Thanks to a diverse collection of sponsors, including Joe’s Bike Shop, the Baltimore Tattoo Museum and Athlete Development Group -- Special Olympians will have the opportunity to be paired with Elite Riders from the BikeReg.com MABRAcross series for a race on the same racecourse the regular riders used previously in the day.

Coonamessett Eco Cross offers prize payout all the way down to beginner

The 4th Annual Corner Cycle Coonamessett Eco Cross is scheduled for October 1st. This year’s version of the race boasts a purse of over $1200 with cash for nearly every category, including some of the highest payouts for Masters and Beginners of any cross race! The race’s sponsorship growth and unique setting, including the Buzzards Bay Brewing Pavilion, has helped it grow from its grassroots origin to become a popular preparatory race for many top New England riders. Highlighting this year’s event will be former Junior Worlds member, Toby Marzot (Falmouth, MA), 2005 Verge NE series Masters Champion Jonny Bold (Marston Mill, MA) and 2005 Master National Cyclocross Champion Paul Curley.

Held on the 12 acre Coonamessett Farm in East Falmouth, MA, the fast and technical course offers little opportunity for riders to ride a rhythm, favoring technically skilled riders who can capitalize on the numerous twists and tight turns, as well as the three running sections. The limited space, however, is ideal for spectators and includes the Buzzards Bay Barrier section through the farm’s covered pavilion, providing comfortable viewing in all but the worst weather, as well as great farm fun for the whole family.

The Farm Café, registration and the course all open at 9 am, while the Buzzards Bay Brewing area will begin serving after 11 am. Also on hand will be members of Clean Power Now, Massachusetts Grassroots Organization with the latest information America’s first proposed off-shore wind farm. For more information, go to tradewindsports.net, or register online at Bikereg.com. A recap of last year’s event will air on FCTV the week prior to the race.

We would like to thank our great sponsors George Sykes and Corner Cycle of Cape Cod, the Coonamessett Farm and their enormous support, Buzzards Bay Brewing and Clean Power Now, for their manpower support.

Maxxis elite cyclo-cross team for 2006/07

Geoff Kabush, Mathieu Toulouse, Melissa Thomas and Adam McGrath (U23) of Team Maxxis/VanDessel Bikes will be the flaming orange streaks you see burning up 'cross courses all over North America this cyclo-cross season.

Kabush earns distinction as the most noted rider on the team thanks to his many top five results in mountain bike racing. Toulouse, a 'cross veteran, has been patiently waiting for his turn to strike it big. Thomas is new to the Maxxis family but given her results from the previous season: 4th at U.S. Cyclocross Nationals and 5th overall in the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross, she will be a force to be reckoned with. McGrath takes a break from being the team mechanic to race U23s and will hopefully earn another spot on the U.S. National Cyclocross team.

Team Maxxis will be waging a complete North American campaign this season with all four riders competing in the Crank Brothers U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross. Kabush and Toulouse will compete for the Maple Leaf jersey at the Canadian Nationals in Nanaimo, BC in November, while Thomas and McGrath will go for the Stars-and-Stripes at the U.S. Nationals in Providence, RI in December.

Bessette and Jaques-Maynes head Cyclocrossworld.com team

Lynn Bessette at last year's Liberty Cup
Photo ©: Trish Albert
(Click for larger image) Lynn Bessette (Louis Garneau) taught the men a lesson she flew past them as the only woman in the Liberty Cup.

After two seasons of incredible results, Team Cyclocrossworld.com announced this week that it has added West Coast rider Ben Jacques-Maynes for '06. Jacques-Maynes will join Lyne Bessette, Canadian National Champion and North America's top Elite female 'cross racer, to form a potent bi-coastal duo.

"I'm very excited to race 'cross again," says Bessette, who retired from her successful road racing career over the summer. "It's going to be a little different because I didn't race all summer but I will be giving my best."

Jacques-Maynes concluded his best-ever road racing season with a seventh place in September's USPRO Championships for the domestic KodakGallery.com-Sierra Nevada squad. With strong performances throughout the road season, Jacques-Maynes, 27, established himself as one of the most consistent and respected riders in North America. After missing most of the 2005 'cross season due to the birth of his son, the San Jose, Cal resident is looking to make a big splash in his cyclo-cross return.

"After such a long road season, I am looking forward to refocusing on cyclocross this winter," says Jacques-Maynes. "I find 'cross refreshing, and I think I can do a great season this year. I feel strong in the legs, and I have worked hard on my running to bring up my competitive level."

Stu Thorne, Team Director and Cyclocrossworld.com owner, will introduce his eponymous Thorne Cyclocross Frames for the 2006 season, with Jacques-Maynes and Bessette riding prototypes in early races and production models by U.S. Nationals. Thorne team bikes will also fly SRAM's Force component group.

Tech news: Ellsworth introduces full-suspension two-niner

Over in the Tech News section, news come from Ellsworth that it has announced a 29-inch wheeled travel full-suspension mountain bike. Based on the 4" travel Evolve, the new bike will share the same ICT linage as the Truth, Moment and the award-winning Epiphany.

"We started from the ground up with this bike," says Tony Ellsworth. "My challenge as a designer - looking at the physics and engineering ramifications of not just the bigger wheels, but the unique rider position and demands of ICT suspension technology - is to admit that everything about this bike had to be different or everything would be a compromise. So the Evolve has its own DNA."

As with all Ellsworth frames made in the new Vancouver, Washington facility, the Evolve will be handcrafted from drawn tubing rather than extruded tubing and will be true to Ellsworth's performance design mantra with shaped, swaged and tapered tubes to achieve increased strength, reduced weight and to avoid gusseting.

The Evolve will be unveiled in Las Vegas at the Interbike trade show and Ellsworth will be available for dealer delivery in January of 2007.

Read all of the latest tech news here.

Jamie Goldman wins Battle at the Fort

Jamie Goldman (Santa Cruz Syndicate) won the recent Red Bull sponsored freeride showcase at the ancient Kalemegdan fortress on the outskirts of the Serbian capital of Belgrade at the first international mountain bike slopestyle contest in this part of the world. Goldman had a perfect run and battled Lance McDermott for the win. Goldman dropped a huge backflip for the win, beating a perfect front flip by McDermott in judging.

Mexican MTBer injured in training ride

Pan-American U23 mountain-bike champion Emmanuel Valencia, was critically injured by an automobile during a training in Bravo in August, his condition serious enough that after several days in a coma, Valencia had to be transferred by helicopter to Mexico City. The Mexican Cycling federation that the athlete was likely saved by the fact that he was wearing a helmet.

In spite of the support from several source, the Valencia family is in urgent need of Support. For more information, visit http://www.fmc.org.mx.

CamelBak bottle sale raises 10k Euros for Wheels 4 Life

At this year’s Eurobike show a total of 1000 CamelBak bottles were sold, generating proceeds of 10.000 Euro in total. The amount was handed over to Hans Rey, mountain bike legend and founder of ‘Wheels 4 Life.’

"This was the biggest promotion for our charity so far," says Rey. "It was a great way to raise awareness and funds. With this donation we can buy at least 150 bicycles. I hope we can do similar promotions in the future."

BikeNZ creates three-day 'Odyssey'

The Whakatane, Rotorua and Taupo District Councils and New Zealand’s national cycling organisation BikeNZ have teamed up to create the “Odyssey”, a new three day recreational mountain bike tour.

The Odyssey will start in Whakatane, and include the Rotorua Lakes and hills and finish in Taupo between February 16-18 2007. The new three-day mountain bike event that will take riders from Whakatane to Taupo along some spectacular unseen tracks that will, like an odyssey, challenge participants to explore untouched territory.

The Whakatane-Taupo Odyssey will be both a race and “fun” ride. The 300 plus kilometers of mountain biking will be tackled over three days, with riders and crews planned to bed-down in two carefully selected water-side camp sites. The February 2007 ride will take in Matahina, the hills behind Kaweraua, and the Rotorua Lakes, before heading south to the Great Lake. The Odyssey will welcome both individuals and teams and there will be event mechanical support.

“There’s a massive area of awesome mountain biking and stunning scenery between Whakatane and Taupo,” said Nicola Burgess of the Whakatane District Council. “A lot of that riding is usually pretty inaccessible - the Odyssey will be the ideal way to discover it.”

Riding around many of the Rotorua lakes, and dozens of kilometers of bush trails will make the Odyssey an incredible outdoors experience, she said. “Of course, if you want to ignore the view and race full-on, you’ve got 300 kilometres to give it heaps!”

Show Low Bluff White Mountains Tour in two weeks

Although the elite seasons may be over for 2006, there are still plenty of mountain-bike events to test yourself on. In Arizona, for example, the 11th Annual Show Low Bluff Tour of the White Mountains is yest to happen (October 7).

This years pre-registration numbers have already surpassed the previous 10 years attendance numbers and promises to be the biggest ever in the history of the 11 year old event. With an anticipated 400+ participant list, the roster of riders will include Mountain Bike Hall of Fame inductee Keith Bontrager. “Having Keith at the event," says Todd Sadow, President of Epic Rides, Inc. “is a testament to the quality of ride the communities of Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ have supported and grown over the years".

To challenge the riders, the event has five different distances to choose from. Sadow says, “From the 10 miles breezers and geezers category all the way to the 66-mile single track challenge. No matter what, everyone should walk away feeling great about their achievement at days end."

For more information and up-to-date reports, photos and video footage check out http://www.epicrides.com.

Registration open for Australia's VAUDE Highland Fling MTB Marathon

With two months until the start, well over 700 riders are entered so far in the VAUDE Highland Fling MTB Marathon. Being run in the beautiful Southern Highlands of NSW on Sunday 12 November. The Fling Starts and Finishes in the village of Bundanoon, 1.5hrs from Sydney and 1.5hrs from Canberra.

Competitors have the option of racing the Full Fling (104km), Half a Fling (58km) and Flinging Threesomes Relay taking on the VAUDE Stage (29km), Forests NSW Stage (46km) and Specialized Stage (29km). For the real masochists there is also the 100mile Fling (160km) but riders in this must finish within 8hours - a tough ask.

The promoter reports that the route for 2006 is now finalised. Whilst 80% of it is as riders enjoyed in 2005, organizers Wild Horizons have taken out a couple of early bottlenecks and added some great new sections including Boags Draft on the VAUDE Stage, some new singletrack and some different tracks in the Forests NSW Stage and some new tracks in the Specialized Stage. The track breakdown is 16km Singletrack/No Track (eg open paddock), 67km Rough/4wd/Forest Track, 18km Dirt Road and 2km Sealed Road.

Entries for the VAUDE Highland Fling, which offers over $7000 in prize money and triple that in prizes, will be capped at 1100 riders.

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