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MTB news & racing round-up for November 1, 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 Series sets 2008 tentative schedule

By Sue George

Harlan Price and Chris Eatough were regulars at NUE Series races in 2007
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Organizers of National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series released a tentative schedule for 2008. The series grows to eight total races with the addition of two new venues and the departure of one former venue.

"Several new venues contacted us and were considered; however, some were first-year events, lap races, or had race dates just didn't fit well for the overall NUE schedule," said Ryan O'Dell, a co-organizer of the NUE series to Cyclingnews.

The Fool's Gold 100, held in Georgia, will join the series by slotting into a mid-August spot for its second running. "The race took about three years to come together and 2007 was the first year it happened," said Eddie O'Dea who promotes the race along with his wife Namrita. "I knew of the series before we had our race, but I wanted to pull our race off and make it actually happen before we became part of the series. I wanted to make sure everything came together logistically."

The Fool's Gold race is somewhat unusual for the series in that it covers two 50 mile laps instead of a single lap, but the course also boasts plenty of singletrack which slows down even the top racers. "The fastest finish time was 10 hours and 22 minutes," said O'Dea.

Also new is the Tahoe-Sierra 100, which will fill a void for the series in the western US. By occupying the September 6 spot on the calendar, the Tahoe-Sierra 100 will serve as the finale, a niche last year filled by the Shenandoah Mountain 100 in Virginia. It will be the first time the NUE finals are held in the West.

"2008 will be the first year for this event; however, racers were invited to participate in a pre-race evaluation of the course in September and provided NUE with rave reviews," said O'Dell. "According to race director Jim Northey, there will be US$20,000 in cash prizes awarded at this event." Northey also directs the "Coolest 24 Hour Race," a non-profit event that raised US$44,000 for the ACCEF in the fight against cancer.

"The Sierra-Tahoe course will include portions of the "Western States 100" course, one of the largest and most popular ultra running events in the US," said O'Dell. The addition of the California venue addresses complaints of some West-coast based racers who have been asking for an event closer to home.

Carrie Lowrey (Outdoor Store) took top honors for the women in the 2007 NUE
Photo ©: Bill McCarrick
(Click for larger image)

Gone from the series is the Endurance 100 in Utah. "We felt it important to keep things dynamic...so the series doesn't get stale," said another series co-organizer Garth Prosser regarding the changes for 2008. O'Dell left open the possibility that the event might return to the NUE in future years. Though not part of the series, the Endurance 100 will still happen next year.

"There are no significant rule or scoring changes planned for 2008," added O'Dell. "The NUE Scoring system that was implemented in 2007 was based on requests from racers who preferred a simple, straightforward scoring system that was easy to understand." Winners are determined from the racers' best four of eight possible total races. Ties are broken by placing at the final event.

Organizers chose the current schedule to allow as many racers as possible to compete from all over the US. "Keeping the minimum races at just four races necessary to qualify along with a good variety of venues and dates, allows racers a more realistic opportunity to compete in the NUE series and still commit to other popular events, including their state series," said O'Dell.

"The NUE Series grew by 37% last year but is still new to many racers which leads me to believe that the NUE Series and 100 mile endurance racing in general is poised for growth," said O'Dell. "Our venues share some common benefits." He pointed to the fact that most of the 100 milers have a single 100-mile loop, noting the difference from most 24 hour races which tend to roll racers around on a 10-15 mile course. O'Dell also offered a theory that "the single-day format of the 100 milers better suits busy endurance racers with families and day jobs because they require a smaller time commitment for each event, but still provide "a 7-12+ hour intense workout." Unlike some series, the NUE requires no special license to compete.

For these and other reasons, Prosser thinks the 100 mile scene will grow. "I would say we are heading to a max capacity with [number of] venues; we may go up to 10 eventually, but participation [of racers] will definitely grow. Double digit growth at most venues will continue. I would almost guarantee triple digit growth at the Fool's Gold 100."

"2007 series winner [Chris] Eatough and other contenders like Harlan [Price], Mike Simonson, Tinker [Juarez] and [Josh] Tostada have all given verbal commitments for next year," said Prosser, who anticipates tough competition for the overall titles next year. The top singlespeed and masters racers are also expected to return. They will be encouraged by the NUE series organizers and sponsors, who are intending to offer cash and prizes to all racers who complete at least the minimum four qualifying races in 2008.

NUE Series for 2008
April 19: Cohutta 100, Tennessee
June 7: Mohican 100, Ohio
June 14: Lumberjack 100, Michigan
July 19: Breckenridge 100, Colorado
July 26: Wilderness 101, Pennsylvania
August 16: Fool's Gold 100, Georgia
August 31: Shenandoah 100, Virginia
September 6: Tahoe-Sierra 100 California

Olympic national team sizes almost determined

Julien Absalon (Orbea) will be a favorite for the 2008 Olympics
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The UCI rankings between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2007, will be used to determine Olympic starting spots by nation for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. On January 1, a country's 2006 ranking will simply be added to its final 2007 ranking to determine an overall score. A nation's ranking for any given season is calculated by adding together the point totals of its top-three athletes in the individual rankings for that year.

To send the maximum team of three men and two women to Beijing, a nation must have a top-five ranking in the men's standings and a top-eight ranking for the women. Current rankings for 2007 (as of October 18) are listed below.

Once the point totals for 2006 and 2007 are combined, the order of ranking for the men is France (7,864), Switzerland (7,349), Spain (5,472), Belgium (4,364), and Germany (4,353), and the US (4,224). For the women, it's China (7,236), Germany (6,346), Canada (6,182) and the US (6,123).

Unlike the selection system for the 2004 Games in Athens which only recognized points from the 2003 season, the new two-year qualification window set by the UCI rewards a country for consistency over a longer period of time. The system also protects traditional mountain bike powerhouses from a lackluster pre-Olympic year that could be caused by illness or injury suffered by one of its star riders. Looking ahead, there has been some discussion of implementing a four-year cumulative qualifying period.

Only a few events offering UCI points remain on the 2007 calendar. It's a gamble as to what countries will send riders to places like Chile to collect the final points up for grabs.

The US is just one nation hoping to make the cut for sending the maximum possible number of athletes. For the 2004 Olympics, the US fielded a three person mountain bike contingent of only one woman, Mary McConneloug, and two men, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski and Todd Wells. The US has all but assured itself of two entries in the women's event for the 2008 Games and currently teeters on the brink of sending the maximum of three men. The staff at USA Cycling has been thinking of the pros and cons of chasing the few remaining UCI points on offer before the end of the year.

"It's the beginning of the spring racing season in Chile, so it's essentially another three weeks of travel for the riders to make it a worthwhile endeavor," said USA Cycling National Mountain Bike Development Director Matt Cramer. "And as you know, for North Americans, November is typically a time for the riders to recover from their season and mentally recoup from the past season and prepare for the 2008 season. It's also the spring for the South Americans and they're geared up for the racing season to begin and so the points down there will be far from easy to secure.

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) will try for a comeback in 2008
Photo ©: Nick Warren
(Click for larger image)

"It wouldn't be easy to just show up and contend for those points when technically we're in a recovery period and they're at the pinnacle of their racing season," said Cramer. "In looking ahead to Beijing, it would be a much better scenario to send two physically and mentally well-prepared men to the Olympics who have a shot at contending compared to sending three men who are tired and burned out from accumulating enough points just to send three participants."

Cramer heads up the US program in which the men have ascended in the last four years by seven notches from 13th to sixth place while the women have raised their game three slots from seventh to fourth.

Cramer also gave his impressions of the Olympic course, which he viewed at the Beijing Test event in September. "At first glance, it doesn't look like a very difficult course. There's not much elevation gain and it’s a very urban course with no real technical sections. There are a few rock gardens that were manually built to make the course more difficult, but what's really going to make the race hard is that each lap is only four kilometers long.

"The men's race was ten laps and within each lap there are probably 10 to 15 very short, high-intensity efforts – going up little risers, coming out of hairpin turns into a little climb that maybe lasts 10 seconds – those sorts of things. It will all be about maintaining your momentum. It's a high-power course that's going to favor a rider with power, but also the ability to recover between those high efforts. So typically speaking, riders that are good at fast, non-technical but very difficult, high-powered courses are going to do very well in Beijing."

2007 UCI Nations Ranking - Men (as of October 18, 2007)

1 France                        4315 pts
2 Switzerland                   3284
3 Spain                         3047
4 Germany                       2591
5 Belgium                       2487
6 Sweden                        2021
7 United States of America      2019
8 Denmark                       1970
9 Canada                        1937
10 Czech Republic               1791
2007 UCI Nations Ranking - Women (as of October 18, 2007)
1 People's Republic of China    4334 pts
2 United States of America      3541
3 Germany                       3069
4 Canada                        3062
5 Russian Federation            2654
6 France                        2263
7 Poland                        2188
8 Czech Republic                2119
9 Switzerland                   2112
10 Slovenia                      207

Colorado and North Carolina schools battle at US Collegiate Nationals

Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona)
Photo ©: Went Knipe
(Click for larger image)
USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals, held last weekend in Banner Elk, North Carolina, turned into a battle between Colorado and North Carolina schools in both the Division I and Division II categories.

Fort Lewis College used wins in the men's cross country and downhill and the women's downhill to help them take the overall Division I team omnium title over host Lees-McRae College in second and University of Colorado-Boulder in third. In Division II, the Colorado School of Mines used a balanced attack to edge North Carolina's Warren Wilson College for the Division II all-around team award.

In addition to awarding individual champions in the cross country, dual slalom, and downhill disciplines, USA Cycling awards omnium champions for both team and individuals. The omnium awards are what make collegiate cycling like no other, using points from each men's and women's event to tally an overall team winner.

"We brought a very, very solid team and things went well for us," said Fort Lewis College Coach Rick Crawford. "This is really what it all comes down to. There are a lot of teams getting into the mix these days and that's good to see. We hope for collegiate cycling to become the development program for the pros."

The individual omnium awards help showcase some of the country's best young all-around talent. Past collegiate winners who've gone onto international success include Alison Dunlap (now retired) and Willow Koerber (still racing internationally for Subaru / Gary Fisher).

Fort Lewis College used the top three individual performances in the men's Division I omnium to help grab the team overall. Cross country and short track winner Benjamin Sonntag came out on top of his two team-mates, Rick Wetherald and Adam Snyder for the win. Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona) edged Eszter Horanyi (University of Colorado-Boulder) after they exchanged victories in the cross country and short track races.

Winning both the cross country and short track races handily, Colorado College's Colin Cares earned the DII men's omnium award and Kylie Krauss of Warren Wilson College won the DII women's omnium, also putting on an impressive display

In all, 22 national champions were crowned, but the true spirit of collegiate cycling was shown through the more than 300 dedicated cyclists and students who came to race for school and individual pride.

Division I Ominums
1 Fort Lewis College                                   730 pts
2 Lees McRae College                                   635
3 University of Colorado-Boulder                       621
4 Lindsey Wilson College                               527
5 University of Vermont                                470
1 Benjamin Sonntag (Fort Lewis College)                330 pts
2 Rick Wetherald (Fort Lewis College)                  302
3 Adam Snyder (Fort Lewis College)                     294
4 Aaron Bradford (Lees-McRae College)                  287
5 Tim Allen (Northern Arizona University)              286
1 Chloe Forsman (University of Arizona)                404 pts
2 Eszter Horanyi (University of Colorado-Boulder)      384
3 Danae York (University of Colorado-Boulder)          377
4 Maureen Kunz (University of California-Berkeley)     354
5 Rose Long (University of Vermont)                    344
Division II Ominums
1 Colorado School of Mines                             636 pts
2 Warren Wilson College                                626
3 Mesa State College                                   535
4 Union College                                        515
5 Western State College                                477
1 Colin Cares (Colorado College)                       340 pts
2 Patrick Hurley (Warren Wilson College)               302
3 Patrick Means (Western Washington University)        298
4 Gregy Gibson (Union College)                         290
5 Robert Jameson (Appalachian State University)        278
Women Individual Omnium
1 Kylie Krauss (Warren Wilson College)                 446 pts
2 Kate Chapman (Western State College)                 432
3 Naticia Slusher (Mesa State College)                 430
4 Karen Amundson (Cumberland University)               392
5 Melissa Marts (Colorado School of Mines)             380

For full coverage of USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike Nationals, click here.

Final NMBS 2008 schedule sees changes

By Sue George

NMBS organizers issued a revised schedule for the 2008 series. The series will consist of six, not eight rounds relative to the draft version. Gone from the originally published list are the Showdown at Sugar in North Carolina and the round in Snowmass, Colorado. The 2008 finals at Tamarack Resort move up one week to the Labor Day holiday weekend (as celebrated in the US).

"The long and the short of it is that we're always looking at new venues and to bring events to new regions," said Jeff Frost of Blue Wolf Event Productions, the organizers of the NMBS Series. We were disappointed in the Sugar Mountain [North Carolina] attendance and went with New York. Windham is only 75 or 90 minutes from New York City." Frost expects to draw from a whole new demographic. The event is in the Catskill Mountains of New York and will also be fairly close to racers in several New England states.

The NMBS previously visited northern Idaho with a stop at Schwiezer, but Tamarack Resort in southern Idaho is a new stop. "Boise has a huge cycling community. Tamarack is just two hours north. We've been trying for three years and it's finally worked out [for an Idaho venue to join the series]," said Frost to Cyclingnews.

Commenting to the disappearance of Snowmass, Colorado from the calendar, Frost said, "Snowmass had a three to four year run. The Venue never really worked for us; whether it was a course problem or an expo problem. But it thrives under the Mountain States Cup. We want both series to benefit and we believe not having it as part of the NMBS will allow it to grow as a Mountain States Cup event."

Frost hinted that the NMBS had not left Colorado for good. "It's important for us to be in Colorado from a national series perspective. Colorado and California are two key states. We're looking to return to Durango in 2009. Adding a venue to the NMBS is about a two or three year process."

All but the East Coast National are slated to offer UCI cross country points. Santa Ynez and Tamarack will award C2 points while the others will award C1 points.

2008 NMBS Schedule (Revised)

March 29 - 30: NMBS #1
Fontana National, Southridge Park, Fontana, California (XCO/DHI/ST/4X/Super D)

April 5 - 6: NMBS #2
NOVA National, McDowell Mountain Regional Park, Fountain Hills, Arizona (XCO/ST/Super D)

May 17- 18: NMBS #3
Santa Ynez Valley National, Ted Chamberlin Ranch, Los Olivos, California (XCO/DHI/DS/ST/Super D)

June 28 - 29: NMBS #4
Deer Valley National, Deer Valley Resort, Park City, Utah (XCO/DHI/DS/ST/Super D)

July 12 - 13: NMBS #5
East Coast National Windham Resort, Windham, New York (XCO/DHI/DS/ST/Super D)

August 30 - September 1: NMBS #6
National Mountain Bike Series Finals, Tamarack Resort, McCall, Idaho (XCO/DHI/DS/ST/Super D)

Gould & Kabush win US National Cross Country Calendar

Geoff Kabush
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Following the Piney Hills Classic this past weekend, Canadian Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) and Georgia Gould (Luna) were named overall winners of the inaugural USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Cross Country Calendar.

After 29 events, Kabush topped the men's standings ahead of Todd Wells (GT-Hyundai) by 55 points (500 - 445). Jeremiah Bishop (Trek-VW) was third overall with 400 points, followed by Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher) in fourth with 399 points and Adam Craig (Giant) in fifth with 365 points.

Gould won the women's division with 650 points, many of which were accumulated by seven victories, ahead of Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) who earned 361 points. Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna) scored 355 points to finish third, while Katerina Nash (Luna) finished fourth with 325 points and Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher) rounded out the top five with 305 points.

Gould's victories included the Sea Otter Classic, the Fontana National, the Deer Valley National, the Sugar Mountain National, the Nova National, the Santa Ynez Valley Mountain Bike Classic and the Snowmass National. She also scored points at the national championships with a second in the cross country and fifth in the short track races.

By the end of the season Kabush boasted six victories including Sea Otter, the Nova National, the Santa Ynez Valley Classic, the Fontana National, the Deer Valley National and the Snowmass National. Kabush also scored significant second-place points behind at the Sugar Mountain National.

Jared Graves and Melissa Buhl have already been named the gravity calendar champions while Nat Ross and Rebecca Rusch have earned top honors in the ultra-endurance calendar.

2007 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Cross Country Calendar Final Standings


1 Geoff Kabush (Maxxis)                            500 pts
2 Todd Wells (GT)                                  445
3 Jeremiah Bishop (Trek / VW)                      400
4 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru / Gary Fisher)    399
5 Adam Craig (Giant)                               365

1 Georgia Gould (Luna)                             650 pts
2 Willow Koerber (Subaru / Gary Fisher)            361
3 Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna)                      335
4 Katerina Nash (Luna)                             325
5 Heather Irmiger (Subaru / Gary Fisher)           305

USA Cycling seeking National Calendar races

On the subject of national calendars, USA Cycling is soliciting applications to be part of the second-annual USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendar. 57 events joined the calendars in its first year. In 2008, the structure will again feature three different national-level calendars to recognize the top competitive off-road cyclists in cross country, gravity and ultra-Endurance categories.

Meanwhile, applications are also being accepted to host a 2008 USA Cycling Mountain Bike State or Regional Championship. The goal of these races is to recognize the best off-road cyclists in each state and region and also serve as qualifiers for the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, set for July 17-20, 2008 at Mount Snow Resort in Vermont.

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