MTB news & racing round-up for August 31, 2007
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Edited by Sue George
Absalon takes aim at #4
By Wendy Booher
A familiar view of Julian Absalon:
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller
An athlete who has achieved as much as Julien Absalon has, such as three
world championship titles and almost too many national titles to count
- not to mention the Olympic gold medal - commands a degree of respect
that's difficult to bestow upon someone so upbeat and downright approachable.
Absalon has just one week to go until the World Mountain Bike Championships,
when he will take aim at a fourth, consecutive world title. With nods
to his competition, he revealed a bit of how he will defend the Olympic
gold medal in Beijing.
The audacity to think that it is possible to turn a 45-minute interview
into an exposé of an entire career must seem laughable - if not
highly irritating - to a pro racer like Julien Absalon. Often forced to
speak a language that is not his own and answer the usual battery of questions
relating to his multiple championship titles (for which most answers can
be found online), the 27 year-old Absalon searches for words with which
he feels comfortable and tends to grow uneasy as questioning plods onward.
No doubt like many other athletes, Absalon may regard interviews as perhaps
one of the burdens to being a pro. However, bring up the Olympic gold
medal that Absalon brought home from Athens three years ago, and he responds
with a brilliance beyond compare. Only two other men own gold medals for
the Olympic cross-country event and the rarity of that distinguish Absalon
even more. To really capture an impression of Absalon though, watch him
race; for only then does his persona become quintessentially clear.
Where others gingerly roll down a steep, scree-carpeted descent, Absalon
locks his brakes and "skis" down using his rear wheel as a rudder
for balance and stability. With only two chainrings, he's built up enough
power by training in the rugged, mountainous region in the northeast of
France to outsprint and outkick the competition nearly every time. His
skill at appraising a course in order to pick out the best line yields
a riding style iconic in its smoothness and feigned effortlessness. What
you won't see is his mental prowess that - combined with his physical
strength and technical acumen - most often delivers Absalon over the finish
line in first place.
"I think that at a high level of competition, mental training is
important," explained Absalon. "I think it makes a difference
because all the riders are similar physically, but it's the mind that
makes the difference. When you want to win, you are able to push more
and when you are able to push the limits, you will go faster than the
He will need his troika of talents to operate at 100 percent both this
weekend, when the final round of the Swisspower Cup takes place near Basel,
Switzerland, and next weekend at the World Mountain Bike Championships
at Fort William, Scotland. The most celebrated names in mountain bike
racing are expected to race in Switzerland, which will be sort of a warm-up
before the championship race the following week. Absalon's main goal for
the 2007 season is to defend his world champion title for a fourth time
and if all goes well in Switzerland, then he will be more ready than ever
to face the competition in Scotland.
To read the complete interview, click
Shenandoah Mountain 100 sets stage for Eatough & Landis battle
By Sue George in Harrisonburg, Virginia, with assistance from Harlan
Winner Chris Eatough
Photo ©: Guru Graphix
The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series wraps up Sunday near Harrisonburg,
Virginia, at the Shenandoah Mountain 100.
Chris Eatough (Trek / VW) has the men's series locked up after his win
last weekend at the Endurance 100, but the stage is set for an exciting
battle among a strong field of contenders. Perhaps the most anticipated
battle is the one between two proven endurance giants: six-time 24 hours
of Adrenaline World Solo champion and mountain biker Eatough vs. 2006
Tour de France winner and roadie Floyd Landis, who announced last week
his intention to attend the race as he continues to await a verdict for
his anti-doping arbitration hearing for a positive doping test result
from Stage 17 of last year's Tour de France. Landis' hearing was held
Landis got his racing start in mountain biking and has recently returned
to form in the discipline with a second place at the Leadville 100.
When asked about his guaranteed series win, Eatough said, "It takes
a little bit of the pressure off. I don't need to be as conservative."
After hearing the news that Landis would be joining the stellar men's
field, he observed, "It's a pretty unique opportunity. It doesn't
come along very often." After all, how many pro mountain bikers ever
get to race Tour de France contenders?
Eatough has switched his focus this year from the 24 hour worlds, which
he previously announced he will not contest in 2007, to the NUE series.
"My training hasn't changed that much," said Eatough. "It
used to be that the 100s were training for the 24. I tried to do extra
climbing, for the bigger days." He called the Shenandoah Mountain
100 is one of his favorite courses.
The lure of the 100 milers was strong for Eatough who commented on the
growing popularity of the race format. "It's a huge challenge, for
the fitness of rider and durability of equipment, and the races are much
more tactical. You have to be smart and race with head, legs and lungs.
You have to be conservative and not go from the gun. The appeal is similar
to an Ironman triathalon. It's an epic day with mishaps, adventures, and
just getting to the finish line is a challenge."
Floyd Landis at the Leadville100
Photo ©: Wesley & Garrett Geer
Eatough will be joined by current fourth place in the series Harlan Price
(Independent Fabrication) and current fifth place Gerry Pflug (Freddie
FU/Kona/Speedgoat Bikes). Other top five contenders Josh Tostado (Giant,
Smith, Dakine, Michelin, Niterider) and Shawn Adams (October Lake Effect)
were not pre-registered. Favorites for the day also include Jeff Schalk
(Trek / VW), Michael Simonson, Sam Koerber (Pro Bikes), Jens Nielsen (Big
Wheel Racing), and Todd Helmick (Trek / VW).
Absent from the men's race will be local pro and past winner Jeremiah
Bishop (Trek / VW), who is headed instead to Fort William, Scotland for
the World Championships.
On the women's side, series leader Danielle Musto (Slingshot) is ready
to do her own battle with close contender Carey Lowrey (Outdoor Store)
for the NUE title. Look out for local pro rider Sue Haywood (Trek / VW),
fresh off a TransRockies win, to go for the day's win. She'll also be
challenged by Trish Stevenson (Pro Bikes), third place series racer Erika
Tieszen (Giant, Smith,Dakine, Niterider), Kristin Eddy (Team Green), and
Michelle Schneider (VisitPA.com).
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete Shenandoah Mountain 100
NUE Series Standings, after six events, with one remaining
1 Chris Eatough (Trek/VW) 4 pts (with 4 races)
2 Josh Tostado (Giant, Smith, Dakine, Michelin, Niterider.) 19
3 Shawn Adams (October Lake Effect) 20
4 Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication) 20
5 Gerry Pflug (Freddie FU/Kona/Speedgoat Bikes) 28
6 Mike Kuhn (Visitpa.com (Mountain Bike Team)) 47
7 Andy Klumb (Bicilibre) 167
8 Cadet Bryant (Bike Pro of San Angelo Texas) 339
9 Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) 8 (with 3 races)
10 Shey Lindner (Bear naked/Cannondale) 22
1 Danielle Musto (Slingshot) 11 pts (with 4 races)
2 Carey Lowery (Outdoor Store) 6 (with 3 races)
3 Erika Tieszen (Giant, Smith,Dakine, Niterider) 10
4 Suz Falvey (Dirty Harrys) 19
5 Laureen Coffelt (Renn Multi-Sport) 22
6 Reenie Greene (www.os2ogear.com) 23
7 Michelle Schneider 8 (with 2 races)
8 Paula Figura (Founders Ales/ Alger Racing) 18
9 Shirlee Finch (Cannondale Midwest Racing) 19
10 Monique Merrill 1 (with 1 race)
Mens Masters 50+
1 John Majors (Giffin Interior & Fixture Inc.) 7 pts (with 4 races)
2 Steve Kinley (Hammer Nutrition, Cannondale) 9
3 Terry Gardner (Methusaleh Racing) 24
4 Jim Jordan (CFX Prod) 2 (with 2 races)
5 David Coar (Team Chiropower) 4
Single Speed Overall
1 Dejay Birtch (Niner Bikes/Stans No Tubes) 17 pts (with 4 races)
2 Tim Dougherty (Bear Naked/Cannondale) 10 (with 3 races)
3 Douglas Jenne (Vicious Cycles / BareKnuckleBrigade) 33
4 Joshua Cohen (Nimmo Chiropractic) 37
5 Thomas Greene (Blesso Consulting) 38
For complete NUE series standings, click
Jeep KOM series to wrap up at Beaver Creek
Photo ©: Jeep KOM
Heading into the grand finale of the 2007 Jeep King of the Mountain summer
series on September 1 at Beaver Creek Resort in Beaver Creek, Colo., the
only certainty in a season packed with unpredictable outcomes is the fact
that never in the event's history have the standings been so tight with
so many athletes in contention for the overall crown.
Five pairs of athletes are tied, and no fewer than six competitors have
a chance to catch fire in the Rocky Mountains and capture the championship,
while also enjoying the spoils in the form of part of a US$100,000 cash
purse and the keys to a new 2008 Jeep Liberty.
Only 10 points separate the top four men's racers, all Americans, and
no story is more compelling than that of Brian Lopes. The Laguna Beach
legend, a three-time world champion, nine-time national champion and now
six-time World Cup Champion, has brought home every trophy imaginable
except that of Jeep KOM series champion. He now stands tied for first
place in the season standings following a win at the second race of season
in San Luis Obispo.
Lopes knows a win is anything but guaranteed with ultra-talented fellow
Californians breathing down his neck. Leading the charge is Temecula's
Rich Houseman, a 2006 NMBS champion, trailed by Eric Carter, also of Temecula,
the 2007 national series champion and 2006 US national champion, and Cody
Warren of Alpine, a former US national champion and multiple NMBS titlist.
Also in the mix are Australia's Wade Bootes, fellow Aussie Jared Graves
and Open Qualifier Chris Del Bosco.
Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands, the world's second ranked racer with
two world cup wins in 2007, shares the lead in the women's series with
Melissa Buhl, recently crowned US national champion and former NMBS Champion.
There is no shortage of depth behind the top two, including Tara Llanes,
Fionn Griffiths, Leana Gerrard and Joanna Petterson. Others to keep an
eye on include Open Qualifiers Neven Steinmetz and Lisa Myklak.
No analysis regarding the battle for mountain biking racing dominance
is complete without mention of the Czech Republic's Michal Prokop and
American Jill Kintner, each the two-time defending series champions. The
pair, after grabbing victories at the first race of the season in Park
City, Utah, now rest in sixth and fifth place in their respective standings,
and will no doubt be eager to try and earn titles in Beaver Creek while
taking down those ranked above them in the process. The seeding runs will
be more important than ever before, as no racer will be eager to meet
Prokop, the 2006 World Champion and reigning Czech Republic BMX and Mountain
Bike National Champion, or Kintner, the world's number-one ranked racer
with two World Cup victories in 2007, in the early stages.
The champions will be crowned based on a system of cumulative points
earned throughout the three series events.
MTB Hall of fame names 2007 inductees
Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Four individuals will be inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame
in a ceremony on Wednesday, September 26, 2007, at Interbike, in Las Vegas:
Hill Abell, a leading Texas advocate, Sal Ruibal, mountain biking's biggest
supporter in the mainstream media, Alison Sydor, a world champion racer
and industry innovator Frank Wadleton.
According to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame website, www.mtnbikehalloffame.com,
Hill Abell earned his nomination in the advocate category. He's been mountain
biking since 1984. That same year Hill and his wife Laura bought the Bicycle
Sport Shop in Austin, Texas. Their store became the only shop in Austin
to specialize in mountain bikes. Besides sharing his passion daily through
the shop, Abell has worked tirelessly as an access advocate in Texas,
which although it is the second largest US State, it only has 3.8% of
it is public land. Abell has played an important advocacy role with his
local Austin Ridge Riders, the Texas Mountain Bike Racing Association
and the Texas Bicycle Coalition. He has also been on the IMBA board of
directors for nine years. His most recent project is with the Austin chapter
Sal Ruibal, the cycling reporter at USA Today, was the first prominent
journalist to chronicle the sport in the mainstream media. Since he began
covering the sport in 1995, he's introduced mountain biking to a mass
audience around the world. His articles in the largest American newspaper
reach more than 10 million readers every day many non-cyclists. He's written
about people, tactics, equipment, and "the culture and the societal
impact of mountain biking" as stated on the Mountain Bike Hall of
Fame website. The list of athletes he has covered reads like a who's who
of mountain biking. He once wrote about his ride with well known mountain
biker, US President George W. Bush. In his free time, Ruibal mountain
bikes, even racing at 24 hour events.
Alison Sydor is a household name in mountain biking. Her resume boasts
three world championship titles, the 1996 Olympic silver medal, three
UCI World Cup titles and 17 World Cup wins. The Canadian began her cycling
career on the road, winning four national road titles and representing
Canada at international competitions. She began her mountain bike racing
career in 1991 and most recently has been winning multi-day mountain bike
Last but not least, Frank Wadleton won a nomination in the industry category.
Wadleton "built his first frame in the summer before seventh grade
(1972) from parts of 10-speed frames and shopping carts." Wadleton
worked with John Parker of Yeti as well as with industry partners Shimano,
Campagnolo, Onza, Barracuda and many others. Wadleton now works for Spooky.
He lists some of his biggest accomplishments as being involved in the
development of Easton frame tubes, fabricating the first set of two-fingered
Shimano brake levers, welding the first set of two sided clipless pedals
for Don Mirah, designing bar ends for Onza, co-designing all Yeti frames,
pioneering the "soft tail" design, being, and building frames
for the likes of John Tomac, Juli Furtado, Tinker Juarez, Brian Lopes,
Miles Rockwell, Missy Giove, Sarah Ballentine, Don Mirah, Davis Phinny,
and Greg Orovits just to name a few.
The general public and Interbike attendees are welcome to attend the
Singlespeed Worlds to Scotland
Just one week before cycling's mainstream mountain bike media descends
on Fort William for the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, many riders
are making the trip north sooner. The Single Speed World Championship
(SSWC) are slated for this weekend, September 1-2 in Aviemore, Scotland.
Competitive festivities start Saturday, when an event will be held to
determine the hosts of the 2008 SSWC. The main action kicks of Sunday
morning with the title event. For more information, visit www.sswc2007.com.
Last year's worlds were in Stockholm, Sweden, in mid-August. Sveinung
Bjørkøy (Norway) and Tiffany Allmandinger (USA) won the men's and women's
24 Hours of Adrenalin World Championships set for weekend
The ninth annual 24 Hours of Adrenaline World Championships head to Laguna
Seca Raceway near Monterey, California September 1-2. Last
year's race was made famous by the movie 24 Solo, which documented
an epic battled between Craig Gordon (Cannondale) and Chris Eatough (Trek
/ VW). Gordon ultimately won, but it cost him a trip to the hospital after
his body started to shut down from the epic effort.
This year, neither Eatough nor last year's women's winner Sue Haywood
(Trek / VW). Both will be contesting the NUE series finale in Virginia.
However, racers like endurance pro Pua Sawicki will be there vying for
New for this year, teams will also compete for a world title. Teams can
be comprised of any three riders.
Fumic Brothers & Polc rule Maribor rehearsal
Brothers in arms, and glory: The
Photo ©: Andrej Dekleva
Last weekend, the courses for the Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
Finals coming up September 15-16 in Maribor, Slovenia, got a test run
Slovenia Cup finals hosted a UCI Class 1 race which was won ruled by
brothers Lado and Manuel Fumic of Fumic Brothers International. Racer
competed on a 4.5 kilometre lap with 150 metres of elevation change per
lap. 31 year-old Lado led from the start of the eight-lap race to be later
joined by his six-years-younger brother Manuel, the former Under 23 World
"I stayed in front from the start, I was trying to test my shape,"
said Lado. "It was working okay, then I waited for my brother and
we continued together. It worked perfectly on this course, here riding
in a small pack is faster than riding in a larger group."
In the end Lado was faster than Mani, finishing a few meters in front
of him. Ukrainian National Team member Sergiy Rysenko finished in third
just under two minutes behind. Czech Merida team rider Jiri Friedl followed
in fourth and Austrian champion Christoph Soukup. Soukup rode in third
close to FBI riders for more than half of the race before being slowed
down by a flat tire.
"I think the race course is pretty good," added Lado. "It
is a fast course and there is no place to recover. It will be a really
hard race at the World Cup finals. Today the weather was perfect, it was
dry, but still humid and slippery in the forest. So I hope it doesn't
rain for the World Cup."
Austrian champion Elisabeth Osl seemed as good as invincible and won
the women's race ahead of Slovenian Nina Homovec and Slovak Janka Stevkova.
Filip Polc (Gravity Group) couldn't
Photo ©: Andrej Dekleva
Filip Polc won the downhill final ahead of a strong international field.
"A good race in nice conditions," said Polc afterward before
commenting on the track. "The course is not too long so a clear run
is even more important here. While it was grippy and very fast in the
dry it will be hard in wet because of all the roots."
The track, with 450 metres in elevation drop, is very similar to the
local classic one near the top but is completely new towards the bottom.
Austrian Petra Bernhard won the women's downhill.
"I don't remember the old course all that well and I was riding
a different bike so I can't compare them," noted Polc, who placed
14th in the downhill at the 2006 World Championships. "I remember
the old one was ahead of its time and this one is similar to what we ride
in the World Cup these days."
Check out complete coverage of the cross
country and the downhill
from the Slovenian Cup.
Barbara Howe diary: On Sugar Mountain
Photo ©: Rush Howe
This month's special recovery tip is to spend many, many hours in a car;
it makes your legs feel great. Well, not really but I thought I'd try
it anyway. I joined Shannon G., her brother Chris, our bikes and cases
in Chris's Audi sedan for a haul from Vermont to the city where corruption
and destruction spring forth, Washington DC.
Chris was a hero and drove the whole way through sun, rain and traffic,
and stopping to fulfil our eating requirements. We stayed at his place
in the Adams Morgan neighbourhood, enjoying scrumptious dining and urban
cycling. One evening I took a metro train ride to the furthest reaches
of the orange line to visit my Auntie in Annapolis. On the way home some
of the District's finest inhabitants sat behind me and engaged in a rather
loud inebriated and nearly violent argument. Of course they stayed on
until my stop.
Chris played hooky from work for a day trip to Gambrill State Park near
Frederick, Maryland. The trails there are super fun with lots of rocks,
some roots and a few riders (mid-week). I must have forgotten how to ride
a bike because in the first ten minutes I hit the ground twice and drew
Thursday afternoon we flew to Charlotte, North Carolina, and met my father
at the airport. Two hours later we were in Boone, North Carolina, enjoying
a meal with the rest of the team. We then drove in the fog and dark up
an ever narrowing gravel road to our home for the weekend, the Hilltop
Hideaway Cabin. The name says it all, the cabin was at the end of the
road at the very top of a mountain and in the morning the view was breathtaking.
To read the complete diary entry, click
Swisspower Cup preview
The Swisspower Cup will wrap up this weekend September 1-2 in Muttenz.
Held just one week before the World Championships, many top stars are
expected to be at the start line including Julien Absalon, Christoph Sauser,
Jose Antonio Hermida, Frederik Kessiakoff , Roel Paulissen, Jean Christophe
Peraud, and Lado and Manuel Fumic. On the women's side, look out for Sabine
Spitz and Katrin Leumann as favorites.
The Spanish racer Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida), one of the
few riders to seriously challenge Absalon this year, said he hopes the
Swisspower cup will help him arrive in the best possible condition to
Fort William. Before heading to Swizterland, Hermida said, " I go
to the Swiss Cup, with a lot of illusion, to take the final feel of form
with a view to the Fort William. On Saturday I will take part in the short
race, and on Sunday I will dispute the cross-country race. I am satisfied
with my condition, but never you can never know for sure."
Orbea's Team Manager Ixio Barandiarán was optimistic about the participation
of his riders, Absalon and Peraud. "The riders go in with an impressive
morale, after the last race (the French Cup) left them in good shape."
Barandiarán indicated that the Swisspower Cup route was good preparation
for the World Championship. "It will be the typical Swiss circuit
- a route with short, but hard unevennesses and also very technicial,
the perfect training for the Worlds course.".
Saturday's program features a short, 20 minute elite race and kids races,
and the juniors, amateurs, and elite men and women will race a cross country
NPS Round 4 to Caersws
This weekend sees round four of the Chain Reaction Cycles British Downhill
Series come to Caersws in Powys near Newtown to the west of Welshpool
and Shrewsbury. Pro riders will be using the race as a warm up for worlds
the following week; Team G-Cross Honda and Animal Commencal will be in
full attendance ripping down the tight, twisty and technical track of
Caersws. Seeding is scheduled for Saturday, September 1 with the finals
on Sunday, September 2.
The Sombrio Film Festival on Saturday evening is free and open to all
and will be showing the United Kingdom Premier of the latest Anti-Gravity
series movie Unhinged. Bring your own chair and a beer.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)