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MTB news & racing round-up for July 20, 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

NUE to make high-altitude Breckenridge stop

2006 Winner Josh Tostada
Photo ©: Liam Doren
(Click for larger image)

Round four of the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series, the Breckenridge 100, will happen this weekend on Sunday, July 22. Racers will tackle100 mile (160km) and 60 mile (100km) options, but only the 100 mile version will count toward the American series.

Breckenridge 100 racers will ride in solo and trio categories while other categories will compete solo or in teams of two. Three high-altitude loops will entertain pedalers with bristling singletrack, ski resort traverses, remote backcountry terrain, excellent views, and occasional mountain goats. Everyone will land in downtown Breckenridge for a post-race park celebration.

This high altitude event, which crosses the Continental Divide several times and stretches up over 12,000 feet (3658m) elevation, draws national racers for the NUE series and plenty of locals, too, of all ages and abilities. In 2006, Wendy Skean inspired many by riding her 100 at a modest age of 62.

Local endurance rider Josh Tostado will be making a run to defend his two-time title, but he'll have plenty of competition with Travis Brown and Tinker Juarez in town. Last year Harlan Price finished second, but Price will reportedly be racing US Nationals in Mount Snow, Vermont, also this weekend. Local Summit County singlespeeder Tim Graczyk rounded out the top three in 2006 while Karen Masson, Trish Stevenson, and local rider Cat Morrison graced the 2006 women's podium.

This event benefits the TAME Foundation, a Summit County, Colorado, non-profit Hippotherapy program. TAME uses horses as a therapy tool for children with disabilities. Race director Thane Wright took a personal interest in TAME through his relationship with a local child with cerebral palsy who benefited from TAME's therapy. Wright's brother also lives with cerebral palsy, so the cause hits close to home.

For more details on the race, visit www.warriorscycling.com. It's not too late to sign up for both distances.

Australian Team named for Worlds

Cycling Australia confirmed the national team to contest the 2007 UCI mountain bike World Championships from September 3 to 9 in Fort William, Scotland. Members are listed below.

Elite Men
Dylan Cooper (XC)
Chris Jongewaard (XC)
Sid Taberlay (XC)
Bryn Atkinson (DH & 4X)
Amiel Cavalier (DH & 4X)
Jared Graves (DH & 4X)
Michael Hannah (DH & 4X)
Jared Rando (DH & 4X)
Sam Hill (DH)
Chris Kovarik (DH)
Nathan Rennie (DH)
Luke Madill (4X)

U23 Men
Shaun Lewis (XC)
Daniel McConnell (XC)
Lachlan Norris (XC)

Elite Women
Dellys Starr (XC)
Tory Thomas (XC)
Tracey Hannah (DH)
Caroline Buchanan (4X)

Peter Braunsteins (XC)
Nathan Haas (XC)
Paul Van Der Ploeg (XC)
Joel Bain (DH)
Caroline Buchanan (DH)
Joshua Button (DH)
Mitchell Delfs (DH)
David Hetherington (DH)
James Maltman (DH)
Tom Patton (DH)
William Rischbieth (DH)

New Zealand Worlds team picked, too

Rosara Joseph.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)
2006 Commonwealth Games mountain bike silver medalist Rosara Joseph will lead a 35-rider New Zealand mountain bike team at the 2007 Worlds.

Joseph, who has been based in Oxford in England for most of the past 10 months was the best placed elite New Zealander with 10th at the 2006 World Championships held in Rotorua. She is currently ranked 22nd in the world, with only limited starts due to school and road race commitments.

New Zealand's most experienced cross country rider, 29 year-old Kashi Leuchs, will lead the elite men's cross country team. Leuchs has had an impressive year with nine top ten finishes from 11 UCI points races this year and is currently ranked 10th in the world.

On the downhill squad, former world champions Scarlett Hagen and Vanessa Quin will be looking to improve on their year to date as both have suffered serious injuries, but will be fit for Fort William. Quin and Hagen, along with Jenna Makgill have been preparing in Europe as part of their build up to the world championships with Makgill currently holding a world ranking of seventh.

While the 2006 downhill Junior World Champion Cameron Cole has recently withdrawn from selection due to injury, a very strong men's downhill team will still start. National Champion Kieran Bennett, 2006 World Championship junior runner-up Sam Blenkinsop and in-form Justin Leov have all been selected. Blenkinsop is currently ranked 23rd and Leov 24th in the world.

Elite Men
Kashi Leuchs (XC)
Marcus Roy (XC)
Stu Houltham (XC)
Mike Northcott (XC)
Eric Drower (XC)
Justin Leov Blenheim (DH)
Nathan Rankin Levin (DH)
Sam Blenkinsop (DH)
Kieran Bennett (DH)
Glenn Haden (DH)
Mike Skinner (DH)

Elite Women
Rosara Joseph (XC)
Anja McDonald (XC)
Kaytee Boyd (XC)
Jennifer O'Connell (XC)
Jennifer Smith (XC)
Vanessa Quin (DH)
Scarlett Hagen (DH)
Jennifer Makgill (DH)
Amy Laird (DH)
Olivia Johnston (DH)
Harriet Harper (DH)

Under 23 Men
Clinton Avery (XC)

U19 Men
James Williamson (XC)
Alex MacGregor (XC)
Ashley Hough (XC)
Conor MacFarlane (XC)
Matthew Scoles (DH)
Peter Cooper (DH)
David Scandrett (DH)
Michael Langford (DH)
Eddie Masters (DH)

Under 23 Women
Carissa Wilkes (XC)

Under 19 Women
Samara Sheppard (XC)
Holly Kernohan-Smith (DH)

Going for Gould

By Sue George

Georgia Gould
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)
Georgia Gould wants to keep her stars and stripes US national cross country championship jersey this weekend. "Defending my title is definitely a goal," said 27 year-old Gould. "This will be my third year at Mount Snow. I'm excited about racing there this year. I feel like I've improved a lot on riding technical roots and rocks and wet."

Gould started mountain biking in Idaho where she said the terrain was very different. "I used to dread the Mount Snow course because it was difficult for me." But fast forward a few years, and Gould is a more mature, experienced racer. "Racing all the World Cups has helped me gain experience on that terrain."

"The World Cups have been great as a whole package," said Gould. "The competition is more in terms of the large numbers of racers, and the courses have more difficult stuff than you find in the NORBA series [now called National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS). - ed.].

With a BA in psychology, Gould knows just how to inspire herself. "When I come up against a big challenge like the World Cups, it motivates me to rise to it. It's been beneficial for me to do them - I've enjoyed the racing and the travel, too. It's been fun." Gould has earned four top ten World Cup finishes so far in 2006, culminating most recently in a fifth place podium appearance at St. Felicien.

"Hopefully Mount Snow will be an exciting race," said Gould. "Those [nationals] are the best ones to race and watch. We have enough women riding strong domestically now."

To read the complete feature, click here.

Giant goes lighter and deeper with 2008 line of trail bikes

By Mark Zalewski

The 2008 Trance X0
Photo ©: Giant Bicycles
(Click for larger image)

Giant is putting its mountain bikes front and center for the 2008 model year. The company successfully launched its multi-link Maestro suspension system just two model years ago and has rapidly expanded the design into a wide-ranging line of mountain bikes that cover the gamut from short-travel cross-country race machines all the way to full-on downhill and freeride rigs. For 2008, Giant has focused on shedding weight from its existing offerings and filling in a noticeable hole in its travel range.

The most obvious target for Giant's gram-cleaving campaign was the Trance trail bike. While its 107mm (4.2") Maestro suspension offered enviable pedaling and bump absorption capabilities, few could ignore its less-than-ideal performance at the scale: aluminum frames hovered near the 3.2kg (7lb) mark, nearly half a kilo heavier than much of its competition.

That blemish on an otherwise clean record certainly didn't go unnoticed by the Giant development team when it began work on the bike's replacement. According to Dennis Lane, Director of Product Development, "The Maestro suspension continues to work exceptionally well for us, but at the same time we are dedicated to make the frame design lighter and faster. There is a little bit of movement but it really is the best balance of pedaling efficiency and rear end compliance that still puts it at the leading edge. Now we have our most complete line-up in mountain bikes with the Maestro system. There are other bikes whose suspension is not as good but when their frame is a pound or two lighter you can have a pretty awesome riding experience. So when we looked at our Trance, we had internal frustration just wishing it was lighter."

To read the complete feature on Giant's trail bike line up for 2008, click here.

Barb Howe diary: July heat

Captain Barb
Photo ©: Josh Snead
(Click for larger image)

The week of the Fourth of July (Independence Day) was one of those rare super hot weeks on the coast. Usually, if I want damp cool weather to ride in I just ride towards the ocean until the desired temperature is reached. There was very little escaping the heat this week. Since I had two races approaching that were bound to be hot and I have very little tolerance for the heat I decided to train when the day was at its hottest in an attempt to acclimatize.

The morning of the fourth was spent with Josh watching the local parade, complete with little league teams, drum and pipe bands, old army vehicles and an effigy of Dick Cheney in a jail cell.

My ride later in the day turned into somewhat of a disaster. To start with I flatted and much to my dismay and infuriation my spare was also flat, which lead me to spending way too much time in a small patch of shade on the side of a busy road patching my tube while attempting to redirect a river a sweat away from my eyes. Later when I intended to stop to refresh myself after my intervals, I found the store I was going to stop at, shut, this lead me spending a considerable amount of time in a restaurant trying to buy some water or ice or liquid of any sort so I didn't dry up before reaching home. Not the best ride by a long shot.

Things were bound to get better later in the day when Josh and I joined his Dad and some friends on his parent's sailboat, which they live on in Sausalito, to find the best spot for viewing the fireworks as well as avoiding some of the crowds. It is hard to imagine how cold it gets out on the water when everyone is sweltering on land, but I know enough to bring some extra clothing. We motored out, caught a chilly breeze, ate dinner and enjoyed fireworks from both Sausalito and San Francisco. By the time we docked we had even missed the Sausalito traffic exodus.

To read the complete diary, click here.

Iron Bike challenges select racers in the Alps

The Iron Bike, a 700 km race with 22,000m of climbing, will run from July 21 to July 29 in the Alps between Italy and France.

Only 140 selected riders will compete. They hail from Brazil, the US, Costa Rica, Canada, and throughout Europe. This year sees seven stages, from the Fortress of Fenestrelle (soon to be included as a World Heritage monument), where they will downhill the massive "Royal stair"; to mount Chaberton (3,120 m). Base camp will be held inside the fortress that dominates the mountain. For the first time, the French government has given permission to sleep inside the buildings which have gone unused since the last World War.

For more information, visit www.ironbike.it.

Free scalpel to lucky junior

Rob Lichtenwalner of Team Bear Naked/Cannondale, a Mid-Atlantic Super Series (MASS) regular racer and one of the top endurance racers in the US, announced he will be giving away his 2005 Cannondale Team Scalpel to one lucky junior at the (MASS) awards ceremony following the cross country race at Bear Creek Mountain Resort on September 23.

The top three finishers from each of the junior classes at the end of the season will be entered into a drawing to win Lichtenwalner's bike. It comes with a free full overhaul so that it will be "race ready".

For more information, see www.masuperseries.com.

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