MTB news & racing round-up for August 28, 2007
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Edited by Sue George
Jonnier to defend world title in rival territory
By Wendy Booher
France's Sabrina Jonnier (Iron
Horse / Monster Energy)
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller/PhotoSport International
Location, location, location - it is the number one rule for realtors
and should be a rule for race reporters, like this one, who always got
the impression of Sabrina Jonnier as aloof, based on circumstances surrounding
a certain mid-April sporting event. To evoke an intriguing interview with
Sabrina Jonnier at the Sea Otter Classic seemed nearly impossible, which
is why location really matters to a racer with regard to weather, course
condition, and competition. That is why it was like meeting Sabrina Jonnier
for the first time this past July shortly after she took the French national
title in the women's downhill competition. Articulate, provocative, and
stunningly gracious, Jonnier exhibited an aptitude and decorum that defined
the very essence of a world champion.
When the Mountain Bike World Championships come to Fort William, Scotland,
September 3-9, Jonnier will need to defend her world championship downhill
title on a course she's never won on against two of her strongest competitors.
Far from her sunny, temperate training ground near her home in Hyères,
France, Fort William is a meteorological crapshoot. What's more, her two
rivals are also locals who have placed better than her on the Fort William
course in previous years.
"The last two years, it has been (Tracy) Moseley and Rachel (Atherton)
in first and second," said Jonnier. "I've never won over there.
I've always finished third or second, so defending the rainbow stripes
will be interesting."
Jonnier may be primed to attain the (so-far) unattainable since earlier
this season she achieved a rare, elusive success in her native France.
When the French National Mountain Bike Championships took place this past
July, Jonnier took her place along with twelve of her countrywomen. The
French Alps' setting and cool alpine weather slightly mimicked Sea Otter
weather conditions, however the slippery, rugged downhill course at Montgenevre
demanded full-suspension and skill, experience, and ambition - all of
which Jonnier has amassed in abundance thanks to one, pesky rival.
Learning from the best
Absent from competition was the practically indomitable Anne-Caroline
Chausson, who has frustrated Jonnier at the national championships for
more than a decade by taking the national title (and often the world title)
in either downhill and 4X, or sometimes both in the same year. Despite
multiple runner-up finishes to Chausson's successive victories, Jonnier
learned that mental training was as much of Chausson's strategy as physical
"I will say that what I learned from Anne-Caroline Chausson was
the mentality to keep winning," said Jonnier. "It's hard to
be 100 percent at every race, and that's what I found really wonderful
about her - her mental strength that made her go to every race and win
every single one."
Jonnier found similarities between the national championship course and her
former training ground in Australia, where she lived for three years with
her boyfriend, Sam Hill. When Hill also won the world champion's title
for downhill last year, it seemed like a gravity dynasty in the making:
the two top downhill racers in the world riding for the same team (Monster
Energy/Iron Horse) from two of the mightiest nations in gravity racing
both earning world titles in the same year. But then the kingdom fell
apart, and Hill and Jonnier have since gone their separate ways.
To read the complete feature, click
Ireland selects worlds team
Cycling Ireland named the Irish team for the mountain bike world championships
in Fort William, Scotland, September 3-9.
The cross country team will be managed by Irish International Manager
Geoff Seymour, with Robert Lamont as assistant team manager. Having just
returned from the Masters World Downhill Championships in France, Irish
International Manager Joe Ward, assisted by Nicola Ward, will take care
of the downhill squad.
Elite men: Robin Seymour
Elite women: Tarja Owens, Beth McCluskey
Espoir men: Niall Davis, Conor McConvey
Juniors: Liam McGreevy, Graham Boyd, Paul O'Reilly
Elite men: Ben Reid, Gerard Wolfe, Dan Wolfe, Greg O Keeffe, Stephen Beattie,
Reserve Riders ( Both Elite) Gareth Mc Kee, Tom Power
Juniors: Seanan O Riordan, Ewan Doherty, Jason Murphy, Karl O Sullivan
Leov down with broken collarbone
Just weeks before the World Championships, and with his form right where
he wanted it to be after winning the NMBS Finals two weeks ago, 22 year-old
Justin Leov has been dealt a heart-wrenching blow.
Last Friday on his first training run for round two of the G3 series
in Colorado, Leov's handlebar snapped, sending him to the ground and breaking
his right collarbone in two places. The Yeti/Fox Factory team was quick
to act, booking an operation, knowing that every day counted and there
was still a possibility to participate at the World Championships.
"The team flew me to San Jose, California to have an operation
with Dr Ting, who is a bit of a legend and has worked on many motocross
riders. He's an orthopaedic surgeon as well as a team physician for a
national hockey team and a football team. His staff pick you up at the
airport and get you comfortable at a hotel until the operation,"
said Leov who is now back in Denver in recovery mode.
Leov had a plate put into his shoulder as well as 10 screws to hold
it all back together. The prognosis for recovery is three to six weeks,
but Dr. Ting has seen people riding after 10 days, so the rider is staying
positive and maintaining his fitness.
"Everything is now stabilized so it's just a matter of waiting
and seeing. I'm going to take another X-ray right before travelling to
the Worlds and that should tell us how much it's healed. I think no matter
what, there is going to be some pain when I ride."
Vink out for the worlds
Downhill rider Nico Vink (Dolphin) will not be riding at the world championships
in Fort William, Scotland. The Belgian rider is not 100% recovered from
a fracture of a bone in his back. Although it will be possible for Vink
to ride again next week, his preparation for worlds is far from ideal.
Therefore Vink, his doctor and the Dolphin's team management have decided
to avoid unnecessary risk and focus instead on the World Cup finals in
Maribor, Slovenia, on the September 17.
Dahle Flesjå sets fall schedule
Multiple mountain bike world and Olympic champion Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjå
was forced to stop racing early in the 2007 after catching a viral infection
in springtime. She declared her season over and has decided not to defend
her title at the world championships in Fort William, Scotland in a few
weeks, but she will appear at a few races this fall.
She was scheduled to participate in Norway's popular Birkebeiner Rittet
marathon race, and she'll be journeying to Beijing for the Olympic Test
event and scope out the race course. Whether she actually competes in
the test event is still to be determined depending on her health.
"This journey is crucial for my preparations for next year's Olympic
season," said Dahle Flesjå of her Beijing trip. The 2008 Olympic
Games are her absolute priority, and she had said she does not want to
take any risks in terms of health.
Dahle Flesjå will also appear at Friedrichshafen's Eurobike trade
show along with her team-mates José Hermida and Ralph Näf
next weekend. She'll sign autographs and answer questions Sunday, September
Photograph exhibition comes with Worlds to Fort William
SNAP, an exhibition featuring work from the some of the world's best
mountain bike photographers, will also be coming to Fort William along
with the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. Photographs to be exhibited
will include previously published works and unseen images. The exhibition
takes place at the Lime Tree Gallery, Achintore Road, Fort William, PH33
6RQ (01397 701 806), from Sept 3-9, 10:00-22:00.
Geoff Kabush diary: The final 07 "Amurican" Report
NMBS series leader Geoff Kabush
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
The final race on the "Amurican" mountain bike circuit is over, the NMBS
Finals in Aspen, and the summer seems to be flying by. However, right
now I am trying to train in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for three weeks,
and I wouldn't mind seeing some fall temperatures. My only escape from
the heat, usually around 95°F, is to ride up to around eight, nine, ten
thousand plus feet (~2700m) where it cools off a bit. Right now, I am
way too lazy to get up and ride at 6:00 like most desert dwellers.
Way back in July, I got to spend a nice chunk of time in the homeland
and attended a couple of Canadian Championships. First was a trip back
to Quebec for some road racing with my buddies on the Symmetrics, now
presented by FarmPure team. It was sure nice to be on Symmetrics because
racing for anyone else at Road Nationals would have sucked; we had a whole
lot of heavy hitters in our arsenal. The team didn't sit back and race
negatively, however; it was full court press right from the gun. I had
fun attacking about ten times in the first ten minutes. I didn't end up
making the big move at about eleven minutes but we stacked the move and
the boys took care of business. Cam took the jersey, Randers took the
silver, and Svein rolled in for fourth; I and the rest of the boys got
a good workout trying to race the thunderstorms and lighting bolts of
the beautiful Beauce region.
After that it was back to BC (British Columbia) and up the island to
my hometown of Courtenay for Mountain Bike Nationals. My sister was back
home too so it was good to see her as she is getting big, round, and ready
to have a baby in September. She will be back on the Xterra circuit next
year and is still managing to fit in some riding despite the extra luggage.
It seems like I am getting to the age where all my friends are either
have a kid or have a bun in the oven. I think Keri and I are going to
try to avoid growing up for a while longer.
To read the complete diary entry, click
Keith Bontrager diary: Twentyfour12 '07
Photo ©: Megan Bontrager
Bontrager (the company) has sponsored a 24 hour race in England for the
last two years. Bontrager (me) helps out with it. I've done 60 of these
things now so I have a decent feel for what a good race is like. We've
worked hard and done our best to get it right and it has worked out in
most ways. The rest has been good instruction. Some of what goes into
a good event is out of our hands, though.
English weather has a bad reputation, though it was never clear to me
that it was deserved, based on my experiences there. I've raced quite
a few times in the UK over the last 12 years and have only been really
muddy a few times. The UK weather extremes I'd faced were typically somewhere
in between warm and pleasant to clear and crisp. I know, that sounds wrong,
impossible really, but it's true. After the last two years I'll admit
that my run of luck, if that's what it is, seems to have come to an end.
We had a good course for the inaugural Twentyfour12 event, but English
weather intervened and it all went wrong when it was wet. We had no idea
what it would be like when it rained because we didn't test it when it
was wet. There wasn't that much rain on race day overall, but it dumped
down pretty hard for a half hour or so at one point. That combined with
some clay soil on the first part of the course and the resulting grease
effectively stopped the race for a few hours. The clay became too slippery
to ride and some of the short climbs were too slick to even hike. My friend
Julie called the worst of it "Bambi-ing". You run out of traction and
have to stop, so you get off your bike. Then you are barely able to stand
because it is so slick. Your feet slip out from under you when you try
to take a step and you crumple to the ground helplessly, just like Bambi
when she was learning to walk. Then it happens again. There was no way
around it - you couldn't make any progress on that part of the course
without crawling. It's not bike racing, and it sucked.
It isn't the first time I have seen races affected severely by weather.
I still have clear recollections of a rider actually crying along the
side of a course in West Virginia during a particularly muddy 24 hour
Luckily, the weather turned better that afternoon and the clay dried
up enough to be race worthy soon after that. Equally luckily was the fact
that English racers end up with a fairly good sense of humor about the
weather, so the race went on and ended on a positive note. I don't recall
any reports of tears, either. Hardy Brits… It was a valuable lesson though,
and came as close to a disaster as I'd ever want to be again. The mistakes
we made the first year were honest ones, though possibly naïve. But no
shortcuts were taken. We were using the venue for the first time, and
we didn't get to ride it in the rain beforehand.
To read the complete diary entry, click
QBP gives unprecedented support to Twin Cities Trips for Kids Chapter
The Trips for Kids (TFK) Chapter in Twin Cities, Minnesota, announced
unprecedented support from Bloomington, Minnesota, based Quality Bicycle
That chapter's Founding Director, Rick McFerrin, recently moved to Calgary,
Canada, to start another Trips for Kids Chapter there, so QBP stepped
in to manage the day-to-day operations Twin Cities chapter. Its goal is
to develop a team of local volunteers that will eventually run the organization
with QBP's ongoing support.
"QBP believes strongly in the Trips for Kids mission to mentor kids
and increase their overall fitness," says Jason Grantz of QBP Advocacy.
"And of course, our whole industry benefits when more young people
discover the fun and excitement of riding bikes."
In fact, the Twin Cities chapter was launched earlier this year with
a US$10,000 grant from QBP and support from local volunteers and bike
QBP said it will continue to support TFK Twin Cities, but it is working
to help the chapter become completely independent and self-sustaining.
"We planted the seeds here. Now we're inviting others to step forward
and help it thrive and grow. This is an investment in the future of our
communities and our industry," Grantz said.
"This is a huge boost for us," said national TFK director Marilyn Price.
"QBP's support ... sets a great example for other businesses to follow.
WAMBA receives AUS$110,000 in funding
The Western Australian Mountain Bike Association (WAMBA) announced it
has received AUS$110,000 from the 2007 round of Department of Sport and
Recreation/Lotterywest. The money will be distributed over three projects.
The next stage of the Goatfarm Mountain Bike Park has received $75,000.
This will be used for signage and the installation of concrete flyovers
as well as the design of further trails, rock gardens and a childrens
track near the creek.
The long running Kalamunda Circuit upgrade and realignment project has
received $15,000. Plans have recently been submitted to the Department
of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and building for the project will
start before the end of the year. The trail will be built for all levels
of mountain biker and is designed as a recreational trail with a future
possibility for a race circuit.
The third project is the construction and signage of some trail in the
Dwellingup area close to the Murray River. More details of this will be
supplied once all approval from for trail construction have been finalised.
This project has received $20,000 and will provide a recreational trail
with trailhead signage and toilet facilities.
4. XCO Dubovac set for next round of Croatia Cup
On September 2, mountain bike club BBK T REX of Karlovac, Croatia,
will host the 4. XCO Dubovac 2007 race, a round of the Croatian Cup for
all categories. Elite men, women, and U23 riders will also earn UCI points
for the category 2 event. Many top riders are expected to attend for a
final tune-up going into the next weekend's World Championships in Fort
William, Scotland. Even those not competing in worlds can collect a few
more UCI points toward Olympic qualifications.
The track will be open for training on Saturday, September 1, and the
race will be held Sunday. For more information, visit www.bbk-t-rex.hr/xco_dubovac.html
Gold Coast postponed due to rain
The Gold Coast mountain cross race in Illinbah, Australia, originally
scheduled for Sunday, August 26, was postponed until Saturday, September
2 due to rain. For more information, contact mobile number 0407 753 327.
Registration opens at 11:00 with racing starting at 13:00.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)