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MTB news & racing round-up for May 30, 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

Kalentyeva and Absalon win wet & muddy World Cup

By Rob Jones & Sue George

Irina Kalentyeva (Topeak-Ergon)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Julien Absalon (Orbea) and Irina Kalentyeva (To Peak) won the second round of the UCI Cross Country World Cup in Offenburg, Germany this weekend in front of 15,000 spectators. It was Kalentyeva's first World Cup win since 2004 and Absalon's first of the year. In both races, the weather made for some interesting conditions.

The women were lucky enough to start in dry conditions, but the rains started on the third lap. Kalentyeva had attacked just before the heavy downpours, but she seemed to revel in the wet conditions.

"I was really, really hoping for the rain," she revealed afterwards. "I like those conditions very much, and I was using some special Continental tires for the wet and mud."

The Chinese team, who put two riders on the podium in the opener in Houffalize, seemed to struggle a bit on the technical circuit. Opening round's winner Chengyuan Ren dropped back to 15th by the end of the first lap, but she would come back to finish seventh and hold on to her World Cup lead by 10 points over Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida).

Absalon was untouchable
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller
(Click for larger image)

Early in the women's race, Sabine Spitz (Ghost), Marga Fullana (Spiuk), Kalentyeva, Dahle Flesjaa and Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain-Haywood) were the riders setting the pace. Premont dropped back on the second lap when she tangled with Fullana. Spitz later lost five minutes to repair a broken chain. Premont then took over second spot from Spitz, while Fullana and Dahle Flesjaa battled for third. The Norwegian would take the bronze after a slow-speed muddy sprint.

The men didn't fare so well. They started in the rain, but it didn't deter Absalon from a dominating performance after officials shortened the race by one lap.

Soon after the start, Roel Paulissen (Cannondale-Vredestein) assumed the lead, with world number one ranked Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) of Canada well-positioned in fifth. However, Kabush fell victim to a series of mishaps, beginning early in the race, and would eventually finish 51st.

Absalon, Hermida, Fredrik Kessiakoff (Cannondale-Vredestein), Kashi Leuchs (Cannondale-Vredestein), Roel Paulissen (Cannondale-Vredestein), Nino Schurter (Swisspower), Florian Vogel (Swisspower), and Christoph Sauser (Specialized) made up the front group, but it was soon decimated by mechanicals and crashes.

Wet roots
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Kessiakoff crashed out, while Vogel and Schurter suffered broken derailleurs. Paulissen faded over time, and Hermida suffered chainsuck in the mud and dropped off the other leaders. Meanwhile, Absalon gradually rode away from the field, to win by nearly three minutes. Cedric Ravanel (Lapierre) worked his way up to second, with Lukas Fluckiger (Athleticum) passing Jean-Christophe Peraud (Orbea) in the final lap to take third.

Absalon attributed his success to good condition and luck and the technique of taking a bottle in each feed zone to clear his chain of mud. Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida) could not repeat his Houffalize ride. He finished eighth and lost the overall lead to Absalon. Schurter retained his lead in the U23 World Cup standings.

See complete coverage of the men's and women's races. The next stop, Round 3, for the World Cup circuit is June 9-10 in Champery, Switzerland.

TransScotland starts seven-day marathon race

Racers enjoyed some beautiful descents.
Photo ©: TransScotland
(Click for larger image)

Modelled after the epic Trans-Alps and Trans-Rockies point-to-point races that cross the Alps and the Canadian Rockies, the TransScotland got underway Sunday for seven days of off-road racing for 250 racers from as far afield as Hong Kong, Belgium, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and the US. The race wraps up Saturday, June 2.

Chief of the newbies is TransAlps and TransRockies veteran Keith Bontrager, who is riding the event solo. Rabid UK singlespeeders and 24hr soloists Matt Carr and Shaggy, organiser of the UK Singlespeed Championships on June 10 at Ashton Court, Bristol, are also racing, onboard 69er rigs.

The TransScotland features a unique mix of seven daily non-competitive marathon linking stages - varying from 55km to 85km in distance - with a selection of "special stages" on purpose-built trail centers including Glentress, Dalbeattie, Mabie, and Drumlanrig. The "special stages" are competitive stages in the form of paired, relay-style time trials, with some held during the day and some at night.

The winner is determined as the fastest person to complete all four special stages in the shortest cumulative time, but racers must complete all seven linking stages.

Competitors are slated to complete a total of 498km (309 miles) and 14,100m (42,260 feet) of climbing in seven days in the following categories: solo , mixed , veteran, female, and male.

Follow the race each day on Cyclingnews, including reading Keith Bontrager's daily diary.

Brentjens has fourth Olympics in sights

By Paul Verkuylen

Brentjens at the 2004 Olympics
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

After Sunday's World Cup, Bart Brentjens has his fourth Olympic Games more firmly in his sights. The 38 year-old Dutch mountain biker from Haelen in the Netherlands, who won the cross country at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and placed third at the 2004 Athens Olympics, finished 11th in the second World Cup event in Offenburg, Germany.

That result fulfilled the NOCNSF (Dutch Olympic Committee) requirements that riders must finish within the first 12 places in a World Cup event in order to qualify for a spot on the team.

Sunday's World Cup was won the Frenchman Julien Absalon, followed home by fellow country man Cédric Ravanel, third was Switzerland's Flückiger. 1995 world champion Brentjens finished almost seven minutes behind in the wet and muddy race and is now placed 19th overall in the World Cup standings with 107 points. He will aim to hold on to his form to secure his spot on the team.

Landis gearing up for Teva Games

Floyd Landis testifies
Photo ©: AFP Photo
(Click for larger image)

Less than two weeks after wrapping up his arbitration hearing at Pepperdine University in California concerning a positive doping test from the 2006 Tour de France, former mountain biker Floyd Landis will be racing at the Teva Games in Vail Pass this weekend according to the Denver Post.

Landis is scheduled to complete the mountain bike event, which starts at 1 pm at Gold Peak on Saturday. He'll be among the pros, including Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru Gary Fisher) and mountain biking legend Ned Overend (Specialized) in tackling three laps of a winding, seven mile course. He will also race the hill climb on the road up Vail Pass at 11:30 am Sunday morning. The hill climb used to feature in the Coors Classic stage race. Both events should be good training for the Leadville 100, which is also on Landis' calendar for the 2007 season.

Landis is awaiting the outcome of the arbitration hearing. If found guilty of doping, he will lose his 2006 Tour de France title and be banned from UCI-sanctioned competition. However, regardless whether he wins or loses this round, the case is likely to progress to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upon appeal by either Landis' team or USADA.

Hestler to defend Trans Rockies title

Andreas Hestler (Place Rocky Mountain Business Objects)
Photo ©: Spectrum Imaging
Click for larger image
Three-time winner Andreas Hestler (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) will defend his Trans Rockies title this year, but said his fifth attempt will be his last. Hestler won in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

This year's Trans Rockies will run from August 12-18, but in reverse format from the last five editions. It will start in Panorama and end in Fernie. Racers will compete for seven days, 600km, and 12,000m of climbing.

"I just love the race and sharing it with my good friends," said Hestler, who has competed with several different partners in the two-person team event. "Bringing new people to this the newest form of mountain biking is truly a rewarding experience, both for our friendships and for the race. We now have four ambassadors out there who are truly fans of this awesomely life-changing event."

In 2003, Hestler raced with Matthew Decore, an Edmonton local, to second placed. Every year since, Hestler had raced with a different partner including Karl Platt, Martin Lazarski, and Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Seamus McGrath.

In his final attempt, Hestler will race with Kevin Calhoun, who works for Rocky Mountain Bicycles and has been racing for 10 years. The long-time friend of Hestler is looking forward to testing himself this summer. Those who finish five Trans Rockies earn a silver buckle for their efforts.

Inaugural Pacific Traverse race comes to BC

Chris Eatough
Photo ©: Bill McCarrick
(Click for larger image)

The inaugural British Columbia Bike the Pacific Traverse will begin July 1 in Victoria and will run 550km in seven stages through nine West Coast communities from the Pacific shores of the capital city to the Olympic village of Whistler. The course is being designed by long-time racer Andreas Hestler.

Among the favorites going into the race will be Trek VW duo of Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk, who announced their participation this week. Eatough is a six-time 24 Hour Solo World Champion and two time 24 Hour US National Champion.

"I find these kinds of races to be excellent training and preparation for my other races," said Eatough in an interview published on the promoter's website regarding his upcoming participation, www.bcbikerace.com. "I have done the Transalp race before and I found that I got really good fitness from doing that race. So there is definitely the training benefit but also there is the challenge...having a 7-day stage race through that area is a great opportunity to ride some singletrack and do some hardcore mountain biking, this was really appealing to me."

For more information, visit www.bcbikerace.com.

British 4X and Supercross series continue

Round 4 of the British 4X National Points Series (NPS4X) and round 2 of the British Supercross Championships head to Bridgnorth, Shropshire June 2-3. The 4X will be run on a brand new track at The Edge Activity Center Saturday. The course was cut into the hillside as a big, fast, wide-open track with massive berms and jumps.

In the Supercross Sunday, look out for Scott Beaumont (Rocky Mountain) who took the first win of this new series back in April at Chicksands with Tom Dowie (Idenitti Bikes) in Junior category qualifying second fastest in front of many of the established pro riders.

For the 4X, Beaumont leads the series, but he will be challenged by series contenders Steve Taylor (Dialled bikes), Richard Batey, and Martyn Ogden (Ram Bikes). For more information, visit www.nps4x.com.

SCOTT to sponsor 24hr Australian championships again

Naming rights for the 2007 Australian 24hr Mountain Bike Championships, slated for Canberra in October 13-14 at Stromlo Forest Park, were awarded to Scott for the second consecutive year.

The 2006 24 hour Australian Mountain Bike Championships won Cycling Australia's highest honour for cycling events at the Australian Cyclist of the Year Awards, beating other major cycling events including the Tour Down Under in South Australia.

The race this year will once again be the largest 24 hour mountain bike race in the world, attracting riders from across Australia and internationally. Competitors take on other teams, individuals, the terrain, the clock and themselves to complete the most laps in twenty four hours. Online entries open June 1. For further information, visit www.scott24hr.com.au.

Barb Howe diary: The home front

Fontana was a race that kept on giving. As a result of my superb bike handling skills and collisions with the ground my back tweaked out mid-week at work. It was one of those moments where it feels as if fire is shooting down your legs and up your back. You can't breathe or move for what could be an eternity.

I was moving stuff around and twisted a bit sideways when the moment hit. After I regained breathing and moving capabilities it seemed prudent go home and lie flat on my back for a while. One massage and a trip to the chiropractor later the back felt better but not great. This small detail wasn't going to stop me from racing at the most local of all races, the Friends of Tamrancho Mountain Bike race, located just a few miles from my home. Tamrancho (aka Boy Scout Camp, www.boyscouts-marin.org ) is a series of legal single track trails located on private property in Fairfax, California.

Although I live and ride all over Mt. Tamalpais, and mountain biking was invented there, single track riding is illegal. There is a petition to legalize single track in Marin County, the petition needs several hundred more signatures, so if you are into cycling check it out and sign it.

The start of the race was a 45 minute ride from home, perfect for getting the legs moving and enjoying the sunshine. The race course utilized some fire roads that are generally off limits to mountain biking so parts of the course were new to me.

I love riding at Tamrancho because there are signs posted reminding cyclist that "bicycles must stay on single track." Does it get any better than that? After getting my number and giving some bottles to a friend for a feed I checked out the start of the course with Rachel (the one who won the Super D at NMBS#2).

To read the full diary entry, click here.

Pair wins Trans Germany support

Team 283 consisting of Bill Fehr and Rebecca Tomaszewski from North Carolina won the Trans Germany UXC competition sponsored by Race Face, and will be heading to Germany to compete for glory from June 9 to 16. The Trans Germany runs 800km and climbs 18,000m from Pfälzerwald to Erzgebirge.

The duo, two bike messengers from North Carolina who want to be the first co-ed, fully rigid, singlespeed team, will be flown to the races with all entry fees paid by Race Face. They will be outfitted with Race Face components and clothing and be given RaceFace team tech support throughout the multi-day epic race.

Race Face is now accepting votes for the team to earn a similar award for the Trans Alp portion of the UXC. You can watch the videos, read team profiles and vote for your favourite all at www.raceface.com/uxc. The Trans Alp winners will be announced Friday, June 1.

2007 NSW/ACT series dates & sponsorship set

North South West Mountain Bike (NSWMTB) announce its NSW/ACT State Cross Country (XC) Series for 2007. The series will be sponsored by KHS Bicycles.

By obtaining sponsorship for the cross country series, NSWMTB has for the first time, gained sponsorship for all three mountain bike disciplines of downhill, mountain cross, and cross country.

The complete schedule is below.

Round 1 - June 9: Hastings Valley MTB club, Telegraph Point
Round 2 - July 22: Manly Warringah MTB club, Arcadia
Round 3 - August 12: South Coast United Mountainbikers, Nowra
Round 4 - September 16: Southern Off-Road Cycling Club
Darkes Forest State Championships - October 28: Hunter Mountain Bike Club, Killingworth
Round 5 - December 1: Canberra Off-Road Cyclists, Mt Stromlo (Brindabella Challenge weekend)

Tour de Tykes features point-to-point race

In the early days of American mountain bike racing, events often were run on point to point style course. Danville, Pennsylvania's Tour de Tykes will keep that tradition alive Saturday, June 2, as part of the Mid-Atlantic Super Series weekend that will also include a Short Track Super Series event and an exhibition Super D on Sunday, June 3.

The cross country race boasts 90% singletrack and plenty of climbing, including over 1,000 meters in the expert race. "It's no accident that our race logo features a silhouette of a rider going uphill," said the promoter, "but, if you look closely, you'll see that the rider silhouette is a child on a tricycle. That's because proceeds benefit the Children's Miracle Network," which provides charity care worth billions of dollars every year at children's hospitals.

Both events are part of the two-day mountain bike themed festival known as Hess Fest. For more information, see the race website at www.tourdetykes.com.

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