MTB news & racing round-up for May 24, 2007
Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking.
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Edited by Sue George
Plaxton and Premont win Canada Cup round
Max Plaxton (Rocky Mountain) was
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
This weekend offered a full slate of UCI races, but no major international
events like a World Cup. So the elite mountain bike field divided and
conquered among a handful of nationally important races offering UCI points
on at least two continents. Most riders were out to test their legs one
last time before the World Cup coming up this weekend in Offenburg on
Team Rocky Mountain-Haywood's Max Plaxton and Marie-Helene Premont enjoyed
a week off the international cross country circuit to race on Canadian
home turf in a national-series event in Bromont, Quebec.
Both riders rode away from their respective fields to win. Premont now
leads the Canada Cup standings for women with a perfect win record, while
another Rocky Mountain-Haywood rider - Raphael Gagné - took over
the pro men's lead for the series after two races.
The Bromont circuit has been around for awhile - it was the world championship
circuit in 1992. The men did six laps and the women five, with both categories
on the course at the same time.
Gagne bolted to the front on the first climb for the men, followed by
Plaxton. Plaxton bided his time and took the lead by the top of the second
climb as the race turned into singletrack. He gradually extended his lead
to eventually win by 3:33 over Mat Toulouse (Maxxis).
"Last year, I started to push right away from the gun." explained
Plaxton. "It's not exactly boring to be out there alone, but it is
nice to back it off a bit and see how others are riding." Plaxton
didn't pull out all the stops as he was clearly saving a little something
for the World Cup race this weekend in Offenburg.
Marie-Helene Premont (Canada)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
"I was taking it a little easy on the downhill because I crashed
there yesterday (Friday) and it numbed my hand a bit ... there's some
pretty important races coming up."
In the women's race, Prémont was already 30 seconds ahead by the
end of the first climb, with the chase group led by Trek-Terrascape team
mates Mical Dyck and Lea Davison. However, in the final lap and half,
Prémont's strength began to show, as she pulled away to win by
three and a half minutes. Premont won despite having to negotiate her
way around the men she was catching - about half of the men's field, who
started only two minutes ahead of the women. Premont holds the overall
On the downhill side, Micayala Gatto (Rocky Mountain-Haywood) and Steve
Smith (Cove Factory) won the women's and men's title on a rain-soaked,
muddy 2.5km course. Riders came through the finish line caked in thick
brown mud after going down in one of the many corners.
For full coverage of the Canadian Cup, click
Nys and Brentjens battle at Benelux cup
Photo ©: Brecht Decaluwé
Meanwhile, across the pond, Belgian cyclo-cross champion Sven Nys came
out on top after a heated battle with other top pros at the Benelux Cup
in Apeldorn in The Netherlands this past weekend. It was the first direct
confrontation between top racers Bart Brentjens and Nys.
Australian champion Chris Jongewaard set a blistering pace at the start
to drag a small group with all the favorites off the front. Rudi van Houts
soon attacked and gained a 30 second advantage over Dolphin teammate Brentjens
and 'cross star Nys. With three laps to go, Nys closed the gap with Brentjens
in tow, but van Houts was not dropped when caught; he maintained contact
with the two favorites.
It seemed like Brentjens would take home victory until he was overtaken
by Nys in the final corner. Nys then outsprinted Brentjens to the finish
while Van Houts only trailed by a few meters.
Winner of the last round of the Benelux cup, Filip Meirhaeghe, finished
fourth ahead of Hans Becking in fifth. Jongewaard ended up eighth.
For full results, click
Absalon and Kalentieva take Albstadt
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
Those not racing in the Benelux Cup were otherwise testing their legs
at the fourth round of the six-race German Bundesliga series or at the
Fort William test
race on the world championship course in Scotland. In front of enthusiastic
crowds in Albstadt, Julien Absalon (Orbea) and Irina Kalentieva (Team
Ergon-Topeak) took the win.
"It was a good preparation for the next World Cup (next weekend)
in Offenburg," said Frenchman Absalon, who spent a good portion of
the ten laps off the front before finishing 21 seconds ahead of Orbea
teammate and compatriot Jean-Christophe Péraud and 24 seconds ahead
of Roel Paulissen (Cannondale-Vredestein).
Russian Irina Kalentyeva (Team Ergon-Topeak) and German Sabine Spitz
(Ghost International) led the race together until the last lap when Kalentieva
rode a fast downhill section, got some seconds advantage and decided to
push hard. Spitz was suffering from some cramps, and Kalentieva built
her lead to 42 seconds over Spitz at the end
An impressive third-place finish was logged by American Heather Irmiger
(Subaru - Gary Fisher), who's been working her way up the international
ladder. She beat first World Cup winner Ren Chengyuan of China and her
teammate Ying Liu.
Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjå failed to start due to stomach
For full coverage of the Albstadt round of the German series, click
Rasmussen aims for Olympic mountain bike race
Photo ©: AFP
Michael Rasmussen of Team Rabobank hopes to enter the 2008 Olympic mountain
bike races in Peking, he said this week, according to the ANP press agency.
"I will make my comeback in August" in the Danish national championships,
"Rabobank thinks it is a good idea and Colnago has already made
a mountain bike for me," he noted of the team and equipment agreement.
"I will not ride the championship just for fun. I will be there to
win it. And, afterwards, I hope that the Danish association will give
me a place on the team for Peking."
Rasmussen was mountain bike world champion in 1999, and has been a road
rider since 2002.
Basagoitia wins Qashqai Urban Challenge round three in Madrid
Paul Basagoitia (Kona Clump) took top honors at round three of the Qashqai
Urban Challenge in Madrid, Spain, a street competition last weekend, and
retained his overall lead in the series.
In the final runs, the top 12 riders were attempting new lines. Basagoitia
chose the left-side line, which contained two small jumps into staircase
landings. He 360'ed the first jump and tailwhipped the second. He followed
those two jumps with a no-foot can over the box, walltap, and wallride
into a stretched out superman on the box jump. Next, he did a no-foot
can transfer from concrete block at the top of the stairs down to another
staircase landing before ending with a flip up the step-up, 360 on the
step-down, and a backflip table on the last jump.
From the first to the second round, riders stepped up their level, so
Basagoitia thew in a tailwhip on the stair section gap. The bike made
it around, but Paul did not land perfectly into the staircase and crashed
on the concrete.
Round 4 continues May 25-26 in Cologne, Germany with a park style competition.
Salzkammergut Trophy marathon celebrates 10th year with Fisher
The Salzkammergut Trophy, Austria's largest marathon event, will celebrate
its tenth anniversary on July 14 along with Gary Fisher, who will tackle
the 110km course option.
Although Gary broke his ankle in October, he is still a favorite for
his age group. But if he doesn't end up on the podium by virtue of his
race performance, he'll be up there presenting the trophies to the winners
of the 110 km and 209 km courses. Fisher will be on hand signing autographs
and demo'ing his fleet of bikes.
The full-length 209km course will feature 7,000m of climbing. The first
half will run from Altaussee to Bad Ischl and back to Bad Goisern as in
recent previous editions, but instead of a second lap, the course will
continue through Obertraun, Hallstatt and Gosau as it did from 1998 to
2003. Some new sections include the newly built bikeway along the east
bank of Hallstätter lake as well as the passage between the Hallstätter
Salzberg and Rossalm towards Gosau, which will avoid a hike-a-bike.
The course will run through the UNESCO World heritage region Hallstatt-Salzkammergut.
Highlights include the Dachstein Mountain ridge and the track through
"the Ewige Wand," the Eternal Wall.
The B-distance option will only cover on the new portion of the course
and will last 110km. Short course options include 24 or 53km, but their
routes remain unchanged for 2007.
Barb Howe diary: Big birds and bruises
Barb Howe and the ostriches.
Photo ©: Wendy Simms
The week between NMBS #2 and NMBS #3 turned out to be more eventful and
busier than I had planned. This was due in part to trying to keep up with
Wendy Simms and her boundless energy. Wendy sat out the cross country
race due to a cold, but that didn't seem to slow her down at all during
We started off Monday morning with a two hour easy spin around the Solvang
area. On the way out, we stopped at Ostrich Land and checked out the ostrich
wares. You can buy everything from feathers to eggs (full or empty) to
ostrich oil in the gift shop. I seriously considered buying an egg (full)
equal to two dozen chicken eggs. I figured the egg could feed several
people for an entire day starting with a giant omlete for breakfast, a
fritatta for lunch, a souffle for dinner, and angel food cake for dinner.
After that, you'd have to start taking cholesterol medication.
Wendy, Jen and myself at the beach.
Photo ©: Unknown
Since my jersey pockets are much smaller than an ostrich egg, I was spared
the egg overload. On the way home from the ride we stopped again at Ostrich
Land to feed the big birds. I think the birds liked Wendy's helmet as
they spent much more time looking at her head than mine. I wouldn't want
to be chased by ostriches, they're really big, kinda scary looking and
ornery. We followed the feeding of the big birds by loading up the Honda
with both of our stuff, loading up ourselves with burritos and heading
south to Santa Barbara. In Santa Barbara, we met up with Bella Jen Tilley
and her boyfriend Ryan for some shopping and more burritos. Wendy was
on a mission to eat as much Mexican food as possible as it's not readily
available all the way up in Nainamo (http://dessert.betterrecipes.com/nainamobar.html
). Ryan graciously offered Wendy and I couch space in his house, and since
a comfy couch is hard to resist, we took him up on the offer.
Tuesday and Wednesday were spent logging road hours on the mountain bikes.
I'm not a huge fan of the road riding on mountain bikes, it just feels
so slow. Of course it helps to remember to add a bit of air to the tires,
24 psi is not ideal for riding on pavement. Jen led two great rides in
the hills around Ventura, we covered over 90 miles in two days on fat
knobby slow tires.
SRAM X.9 rear derailleur and trigger shifters - few reasons to pay more
The new X.9 rear derailleur held
Photo ©: James Huang
Trickle-down technology is the boon for all performance-loving (but cash-strapped)
cyclists out there, and few bits in recent memory have exemplified this
trend more than the latest round of SRAM's X.9 MTB transmission.
The initial X.9 generation offered up competent capabilities, but it
was hardly awe-inspiring. While it included most of the same features
as the top-tier X.0 (including the outstanding 1:1 cable pull ratio and
thumb-thumb trigger configuration), it just didn't feel as good in use
and didn't quite offer up the same reassuring tactile feel as its big
brother. X.0's characteristic 'Pop! Pop!' was translated into more of
a muffled 'puff puff'… as if it were being suffocated with a pillow.
That gap narrowed to virtually nil for 2007 as SRAM gave X.9 a significant
functional and visual overhaul. New rear derailleur features include a
decidedly more X.0-like appearance that at least seems more rigid than
before, a forged aluminum B-knuckle for improved durability (original
cast aluminum ones were somewhat prone to failure), and a sealed bearing
To read the complete review, click
Hutchinson Piranha MRC Medium Tubeless tires - rails for your bike
Hutchinson's new Piranha tread
Photo ©: James Huang
Much attention is paid to a plethora of bicycle components, but few can
have as much of an impact on bicycle performance than tire selection.
Hutchinson's latest round of off-road tires includes the intriguing Piranha,
which pairs aggressively tall cornering knobs with a decidedly low-profile
center tread. Hutchinson offers the Piranha in several different flavors
ranging from skinny cross country widths to beefier all-mountain casings.
Our 26x2.3" Piranha MRC Medium Tubeless test tires fell at the latter
end of that scale with an actual weight of 966g each (91g more than advertised).
To Hutchinson's credit, that weight incorporates a beefy 66tpi, true UST
casing with reinforced sidewalls and a polyamide belt under the tread
along with medium rebound rubber for enhanced grip over more XC-specific
When mounted up on a 5" travel trail bike, we found the Piranha MRC Medium
Tubeless to largely deliver on Hutchinson's cornering grip promises in
hardpack and loose-over-hardpack conditions (sorry, we weren't able to
try them in soft or muddy terrains). Adhesion at the limits was excellent
and also reasonably forgiving in spite of the tire's decidedly square-edged
profile. The distinct lack of intermediate knobs, however, made for somewhat
odd transitions but we quickly adjusted to the feel nonetheless.
To read the complete review, click
4Wheels4Sean relaunched jointly by Australian organizations
Cycling Australia (CA), The Bicycle Federation of Australia (BFA), Mountain
Bike Australia (MTBA), and BMX Australia (BMXA) have combined to launch
4Wheels4Sean as a national charity dedicated to assisting severely injured
The foundation's objective is "to raise funds from the public by
way of donations, sponsorship, and the conduct of competitions for the
sole purpose of providing financial assistance by way of the gift of money
or chattels to permanent residents of Australia who the Trustees identify
are in a position of financial need and are in necessitous circumstances
as a result of a severe disability acquired whilst cycling."
4Wheels4Sean was launched in 2001 with a goal of providing AUS$50,000
for a specially adapted vehicle foe Sean Fitzgerald, an avid cyclist who
became a quadriplegic in a mountain bike accident.
"Sean was presented with his vehicle in 2003 and the fund continued
to provide for Australian cyclists in a small way for some years after,"
said Huw Kingston, Founder of 4Wheels4Sean and Chairman of the charity.
"However in recent years the trustees of the 'old' 4Wheels4Sean just
did not have the time to drive the charity forward and a decision was
made to close it late in 2006. At the 11th hour Cycling Australia were
in touch and suggested the charity continue."
Each involved organisation now nominates a board member to 4Wheels4Sean.
"This is a wonderful outcome for Australian cycling and what is
most encouraging is that CA, MTBA, BMX, and BFA are enthusiastically working
together to position 4Wheels4Sean as 'the' charity supporting cyclists
injured cycling. 4Wheels4Sean complements the Amy Gillett Foundation,
whose primary role is in injury prevention," said Kingston.
Involved parties were extra motivated to participate in light of the
recent serious spinal injuries suffered by BMX World Silver Medalist,
Renee Junga and Australian National Road Champion, Paul Crake, in late
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hammer in the Hay race postponed
While most racers in the northern hemisphere have put away their snow
shovels, those in Vail might want to keep theirs nearby.
The Hammer in the Hay, the first race in the 2007 Vail & Beaver Creek
Mountain Bike Race Series was postponed due to snow. The race was slated
to take place, Wednesday, but was postponed until May 30.
According to the Vail Daily, the race was delayed due to recent
snowfall and downvalley rain causing "excessively muddy and deteriorating
course conditions." The delay will let the course dry out and minimize
bike impact while ensuring rider safety.
"We couldn't even drive a truck up there," said Joel Rabinowitz of the
Vail Recreation District.. "So it was highly suggested we postpone the
race." This Hammer in the Hay postponement will have no impact on the
remaining series schedule.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)