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MTB news & racing round-up for July 12, 2007

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking. Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to mtb@cyclingnews.com and results, reports & photos to cyclingnews@cyclingnews.com.

Edited by Sue George

Australian world champions win World Cup downhill double

Australian Tracey Hannah.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Reigning Australian world champions Tracey Hannah and Sam Hill won the elite women's and men's downhills at the fourth round of the World Cup in Schladming, Austria, last weekend.

Racing her first season in the elite ranks, Hannah became the youngest Australian to win a World Cup event. Hannah, 2006 junior world champion downhill racer, just turned 19 three weeks ago.

After qualifying second fastest, Hannah went on to beat hot favourite and current world champion, Sabrina Jonnier (Iron Horse / Monster Energy) from France. Hannah rode an impressive 4:41.50 beating Jonnier by more than one second on the 2,100m course, and she moved into fourth position in the World Cup overall standings. Jonnier looks certain to take the series with only one remaining event.

Making it an Australian double, world champion Sam Hill (Iron Horse / Monster Energy) won the elite men's event with a massive margin over his nearest rival, Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal) from Great Britain. The 21 year-old rode a blistering 3:51.44, over five seconds faster than Atherton with both riders being the only two competitors to break the four minute barrier.

"Sam was pretty impressive today," said competitor Greg Minnaar (Team G-Cross Honda). "He deserves to be in the black jersey right now."

Hill now leads the series with a comfortable 807 points, 168 points ahead of Britain's Steve Peat. Hill looks comfortably in the series lead with one remaining final round in Slovenia in September.

Americans score pair of 4X wins

On the 4X side, two Americans scored victory. Brian Lopes logged a convincing win Saturday in round four of the men's 4X after winning all his rounds, including the final ahead of German Guido Tschugg, Slovakian Filip Polc and Australian rider Jared Graves. Meanwhile, compatriot Jill Kintner showed she has recovered from her disappointing race two weeks ago in Mont Sainte Anne. She won in Austria over Dutchwoman Anneke Beerten. Both Americans lead the World Cup overall standings

The fifth and final World Cup round will happen September 13-14 in Maribor, Slovenia. For complete coverage of Gravity World Cup Round 4, click here.

Eatough and Schalk win inaugural BC Bike race

By Marc Campbell

Chris Eatough (Trek/VW) at the Lumberjack 100
Photo ©: Jack Kunnen
(Click for larger image)

Top honors went to the Trek-Volkswagen duo of Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk, who not only won the overall at the inaugural BC Bike race, but also won each and every stage along the week during the week-long event and over 25 hours of racing. Hot on their heels, within 45 minutes overall, was Rocky Mountain Bikes, including Andreas Hestler and Kevin Calhoun. Third was Team La Ruta/Sho-Air, consisting of Manuel Prado and Jason First.

"We had a good week in all aspects," said Eatough, the six-time, world 24-hour solo endurance champion to canoe.ca. "We were lucky as far as we didn't have any mechanical problems the whole week, not even a flat tire." 33 year-old Eatough led the downhills and technical sections while Schalk drove the team's pace on the climbs.

On the women's side, Team North Shore Girls Don't Cry including Cynthia Young and Michelle Newton scored six stage wins and won overall in 35:19:15.

"We thought we could get on the podium, but we didn't come here thinking about winning," said Newton, a homeopath and mother of three. "We spent 55 minutes on the side of the trail with a mechanical on stage 5, but came back and only ended up losing 17 minutes. Just to finish all seven days is an amazing accomplishment."

Second place overall in the women's category was locked down by the two Jenns, Keefer and Sawrenko (The Jennerators) who finished with a cumulative mark of 36:31:03. Team Tunnel Vision (Emma Smith and Sarah O'Byrne) were third overall, in 37:52:26. Smith and O'Byrne met last summer in Whistler, the same time they both started mountain biking.

Hillary Harrison and Ryan Watts won the mixed category in 32:16:20.

The race started in Sooke on Vancouver Island, and finished in the shadows of the towering Coastal Mountain Range of British Columbia. For full coverage of the BC Bike Race, click here.

Cole to miss Worlds

Junior downhill mountain bike world champion Cameron Cole from Hamilton has confirmed he will miss the 2007 world championships in Fort William, Scotland, so he can recover from an arm and hand injuries sustained while training in Utah last month. Cole was operated on this week and will be in a cast for six weeks meaning he will be unfit for the world championships being held September 9-13.

Elite racers head to Turkey for Continental Championships

By Aybars Oge Surucu

France's Julien Absalon (Orbea)
Photo ©: PhotoSport International
(Click for larger image)

The UCI European Mountain Bike cross country championship brings the biggest event in Turkish Cycling history to Cappadocia. In fact, the former UCI president described Turkey as a "non-cycling" country in 2002 while presenting a road stage race. But in that time, everything has changed, especially for mountain biking.

Racers will tackle a 7.1km course, with three feed zones. Spectators will be able to see most of the course from the first feed zone for easy viewing. Favorites include Bart Brentjens, who will be appearing years after his victory at the Alanya MTB Cup. He'll be matched by the likes of reigning World Champion Julien Absalon, Oliver Beckingsale, Jean Christophe Peraud, Jose Antonio Hermida, Johann Pallhuber, Yader Zoli, and Tony Longo, but Liam Killeen will still be sitting out due to health issues.

Gunn Rita Dahle Flesja will still be sitting out women's competition while she recovers from a viral infection, therefore, the women's race is left wide open--just as the World Cups have been challenged by several top women in Dahle Flesja's absence.

Last year's race was won by Frenchman Absalon and Spain's Margarita Fullana. While Absalon will attempt to defend, any intentions of Fullana to do so have gone by the way of a reportedly broken arm.

To read the complete preview, click here.

MTBA national series and calendar set for 2007-8

Mountain Bike Australia announced its 2007-8 calendar. All future events are listed below.

- October 20 - 21: Mountain Cross #1 and #2, Sydney Olympic Park, Sydney, NSW

- November 3-4: Cross Country #1, Short Track Cross Country #1, Downhill #1, Eagle Park in Adelaide, SA

- November 24-25: Cross Country #2, Short Track Cross Country #2, Downhill #2, Mountain Cross #3, Gold Coast, QLD

- December 15-16: Cross Country #3, Short Track Cross Country #3, Downhill #3, Mountain Cross #4, Thredbo, NSW

- January 12-13: Mountain Cross #5 and Mountain Cross #6, Blackhill, Newcastle, NSW

- January 24 - 28: Australian MTB Nationals - Mountain Cross, Cross Country , Short Track, Trials, Downhill, Mt Stromlo, Canberra. ACT

- February 2-3: Cross Country Olympic #4 Short Track Cross Country #4, Downhill #4, Mount Beauty, VIC

Bike review: Moving onwards from Cake

By Sue George

A low-slung top tube
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

The Gary Fisher Hi Fi trail bike platform was introduced last year as the replacement for the discontinued Cake, and also is the first model to feature the company's newly revamped Genesis 2.0 geometry.

Gary Fisher's new HiFi trail bike picks up where the single-pivot Cake left off, at least in terms of its target market. With 120mm of travel front and rear, it's aimed at today's core group of mountain bikers who focus on XC-style riding (with the occasional race thrown in for good measure) but also are looking for something with a little more overall capability than a pure race machine.

Interestingly, although the HiFi is more closely related to the Cake in terms of lineage, its physical appearance bears a striking resemblance to the old short-travel Sugar with a similar profile and linkage configuration. However, the HiFi offers substantially more travel and is lighter to boot. Like the old Sugar, the HiFi is also essentially a single-pivot design but the addition of seat stay-located dropout pivots on the new 'faux bar' configuration better accommodates the additional movement, and a full complement of widely-spaced press-fit cartridge bearings in each pivot (including the linkage and the 'Four Barrel' dropout pivots with two cartridges each) replace the old wear-prone bushings.

As compared to the Cake, Gary Fisher claims the HiFi is both lighter and more rigid, thanks to beefier asymmetric chain stays, carbon fiber seat stays, and more extensive hydroforming throughout the Platinum Series 6061-T6 aluminum main frame and chain stays. In addition to the geometry changes associated with 'G2', the HiFi also boasts a lower bottom bracket height in order to lower the center of gravity, improve stability, and also make it easier to dab a foot in technical sections.

To read the complete review, click here.

Barbara Howe diary: Heat, Hills and swimming holes

The bottom corner claimed its share of victims.
Photo ©: Barb Howe
(Click for larger image)

The Nevada City weekend was one of great highs and lows. Sunday was the 47th annual Tour of Nevada City and I was eager to race having won the 45th edition of the race, and was hoping for a good result. Nevada City is a very cute old mining town in the foothills of the Sierra, meaning that there is nothing flat: everything is either up or down.

The course starts and finishes on a steep downhill, and at the bottom of the hill is a sharp left followed by and even sharper off camber left. It then heads up, up, up around various corners and up various pitches to the top, 120 vertical feet later (36.576m). Finishing speeds regularly exceed 40mph and the bottom corners have claimed many victims.

The spectators are great at this race - they line the course and get rowdier as the day goes on. Josh and I found a great parking spot, often a trick in a tiny town with narrow streets. I headed out to overheat - uh, I mean, warm up before the race. Two years ago when I won the race my legs had been divinely inspired and I would have gladly raced a few more laps. This year, the deity responsible for my legs has not been responding to my sacrifices and offerings.

We started, I struggled, and a few laps later I was popped off the main group and rode around with my teammate Stella for the rest of the race. After an eternity Shelley came past me following the lead motorcycle, thank goodness, I had about as much as I could take. Plus I was starting to get goose bumps from the heat on my arms despite repeatedly dousing myself with water.

To read the complete diary, click here.

Docklands Melbourne 12 hr enduro set for September

The Subaru Interactive at Docklands Melbourne 12hr Enduro announced its dates for the fifth annual running on September 15, 2007. For this year, the course is getting a makeover. In recent editions, the rocks that have made this course famous have taken their toll. New for this year will be some new lines and reinvigorated old sections.

Registration opened July 11 at 09:00 local time. Fields are strictly limited to 800 racers. For more information, visit www.fullgaspromotions.com.au.

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