MTB news & racing round-up for November 24, 2007
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Edited by Sue George
Haywood tells tales from a first La Ruta
By Sue George
America's Susan Haywood (Trek /
Photo ©: Luis A. Rueda Fonseca
Sue Haywood (Trek / VW) came home with a win after competing in her first
La Ruta de los Conquistadores.
She conquered challenging conditions and defeated three-time women's winner
Louise Kobin over four days and 360km. She talked about her first-time
experience in Costa Rica's legendary mountain bike stage race.
Haywood (Trek / VW) and Federico "Lico" Ramirez (BCR-Pizza
Hut-Powerade-KHS) were crowned champions at the end of the 15th edition
of La Ruta which featured plenty of climbing, mud, and railroad bridges
to keep things interesting. While it was Ramirez's fourth win, Haywood
was a La Ruta newbie. Both winners claimed victory in three of the four
Haywood decided to do La Ruta after being part of the winning women's
team at the TransRockies in August. "[La Ruta] is one of those races
that has been on the radar because they say it's the hardest mountain
bike race in the world and it's in a warm place in November."
"It's not just a mountain bike race. It is the hardest mountain
bike adventure race. To me, it's not just the mountain biking that makes
it difficult. There is [almost] no singletrack, and for me, singletrack
and mountain biking go hand in hand. But it's certainly a difficult race
especially when it's your first time you don't know what's coming up."
"Being in a Latin American country means things are more chaotic
and a little bit different. People are really relaxed in general. They
know everything isn't going to be like clockwork. There is a feeling of
camaraderie because the race is so difficult. People have so much respect
for each other that they're doing the race."
The bus transfers and 5:30 am starts only add the culture shock in making
the race tough for foreigners.
Haywood was initial worried when
rival Louise Kobin caught her,
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Haywood battled with Louise Kobin (Sho Air-Rock and Road) as her main
competition for the race. Kobin has done the race five times and won three
times. Her other two attempts have ended in second places.
The two women rode near each other throughout the race, but not with
each other. "Since there are 550 people racing, we often stayed close
and we couldn't trust what people are saying [about who was where]
things get lost in translation."
"We often rode close but not together except for the last day. For
a lot of the race, we were only separated by a few minutes." Then
the Trek / VW racer would pull away near the end - at least for the first
three stages. Haywood said she spent much of the race riding with the
same batch of racers. "There was a group of maybe eight or so people
I'd ride with at different times - a lot of the masters guys."
In fact, Haywood rode the first two stages of the race on a borrowed
bike, thanks to a local who worked at a nearby Trek dealer. Her bike didn't
make it down with her on the airplane. "I was lucky to be able to
race. I got my bike for the third and fourth days. The borrowed bike was
one size smaller than I normally ride, so I was worried about not being
used to it, but everything worked out fine.
The amount and consistency of the mud left an impression on Haywood.
"Being from the East Coast and West Virginia, I have seen bits of
mud like that, but I guess we just don't have as much clay. It was really
slippery clay. It was definitely extreme mud."
"They said some things were better and some were worse as far as
the mud went this year. The mud wasn't as soul-crushing as I thought it
would be. But it did make the downhills so hard. Sometimes my wheels would
To read the complete feature, click
Belgians select Olympians
Sven Nys (Rabobank)
Photo ©: AFP
Belgium will send three men to the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 including
Sven Nys, Roel Paulissen and Filip Meirhaeghe. For some time, whether
Belgium would send two or three men to the Olympics looked uncertain;
the nation was competing with the US to be in the top five of the UCI's
nations rankings. Teams in the top five rankings at the end of 2007 will
be eligible to send five men,
The Belgian federation announced Tuesday, according to the press office
Belga, that after last weekend's races, it would be mathematically
impossible for the US to jump ahead of the Belgians in the rankings before
they are finalized at the end of 2007.
Nys, who may be better known as one of the world's top cyclo-crossers,
was the lowest on the individual mountain bike rankings of the three candidate
Belgian Olympians, so the news that three would go to Beijing meant that
Nys would be among the future Olympians. While training in Mallorca, Nys
said he was not surprised, but was still happy with the news of his selection.
"It will be a true honor. My preparation can now start fully,"
said Nys to Belga. He will work hard to ready himself for the hot
and humid conditions expected next August; the Olympic conditions are
expected to be the opposite to the cold and clear conditions in which
Nys so consistently excels throughout the 'cross season.
After last weekend's races, the Americans trailed the Belgians by 140
points and a maximum of 130 points is available at the final UCI points
race in Chile in December.
Australian national series heads to Gold Coast Hinterland
By Sharon Payne
Dave Whitney (Merida)
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
Over 500 mountain bikers arrived in Queensland Friday to compete in round
two of the Australian National Mountain Bike Series. Olympic hopefuls
and daredevil downhillers are converging on the Gold Coast Hinterland
at Illinbah for a full weekend of racing. The host club, Gold Coast Mountain
Bike Club opened courses for official pre-race practice and racing in
four disciplines will begin Saturday morning with the Olympic discipline
of cross country.
The elite women will race the Olympic cross country for four laps of
the 5.5 km circuit known as tough climbing course with features like Dave's
Drop, Sam's Section and Rhino Climb. The women will provide the largest
field and close racing is again expected between current series leader,
Rowena Fry and second in the series, Jodie Willett. Zoe King will be in
the mix along with Imogen Smith while Terri Rhodes is the Under 23 favorite.
The elite men will cover six laps taking up to two hours with riders
like Dave Whitney, Dylan Cooper, Shaun Lewis, Ben Mather and Aiden Lefmann
fighting it out for the lead.
Four cross racing will happen Friday under the lights with a few BMX
Olympic hopefuls testing their skills on the multiple lines on the mountain
slope. Jared Graves will headline the field along with New Zealand's Justin
Leov. Other contenders will be Michael Young and BMX rider Stevie Janssen.
National four cross champion Caroline Buchanan will be challenged by Sarsha
Huntington in the women's four cross.
Downhillers will get their turn on Sunday after the short course cross
country event. They will chose from the A and B line courses with the
A line in the elite men, under 19 and elite women's races with two drops
of 50 feet then another 70 foot step down making it one of the most challenging
on the national circuit. Riders will traverse a total of 2.3 km over an
elevation drop of 520 metres. Times for the elite men are expected to
come close to the three minute mark.
World ranked number seven, professional downhiller, Nathan Rennie will
have his reputation challenged by Amiel Cavalier, the National Series
winner from last season. Jared Rando will return to racing and will meet
international rider, Brad Benedict from the US. Adelaide's strong riders
Dave West and Craig Yates will throw down the challenge to local stars,
Toowoomba's Lindsay Klein and James Maltman.
The Under 19s will highlight young talent with tight racing expected
between Rhys Willemse, Will Rischbieth and Shaun O'Connor.
World ranked number three Tracey Hannah will make tough competition for
Buchanan and Jane Rutter. Hannah will race for the first time in Australia
after placing third at the World Championships in Scotland and third in
the World Cup Series in just her first year in the elite class.
Dahle Flesjå on her way back to competition
Gunn-Rita Dahle FlesjŚ
Photo ©: Alexander Farnsworth
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå is working her way back to full form after
suffering a viral infection that kept her from competition for most of
2007. The multiple-time world champion is undergoing a tough work-out
schedule at home in Stavanger before travelling to Boulder, Colorado,
for a few weeks in January for more training.
"I have fully recovered and therefore am fully motivated. Although
I cannot really train as much and at the same level of intensity as in
previous years yet, I am still convinced that I will be competing for
the podium within the world elite next season," said Dahle Flesjå
of her situation.
She will return to competition in March 2008, after nearly a year away
from the race circuit. As the reigning Olympic champion, the Norwegian
is considered as one of the serious contenders at Beijing's Olympic Games,
but she is still reluctant to put herself under pressure. "Thinking
about medals does not make any sense yet at the moment. I guess I will
be able to give a more precise estimate on my chances for the Olympic
games by the month of May." said Dahle Flesjå
As Multivan Merida Biking Team's manager, Andreas Rottler is looking
forward to Dahle Flesjå's return. "We are convinced that an
athlete of Gunn-Rita's caliber will be able to catch up with the world
elite quickly." After knowing her for many years, Rottler said, "She
still is the big favourite for Beijing's Olympic games."
To read Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå's most recent diary entry, in which
she describes her efforts to resume training, click
Fairclough takes final Honda team victory
Brendan Fairclough (Great Britain)
Photo ©: Mikkeli Godfree
Brendan Fairclough wrapped up Team G-Cross Honda's final victory with
a win in Motril, Spain for a round of the Andalucia Cup. The team recently
announced it would be coming
to an end.
The race took place on a recent Sunday in sunny 20 degree (Celsius) temperatures
with more than 200 other competitors, including reigning European Champion
David Vazquez of Barcelona. Motril has become a true center for downhill
racing in Southern Spain and his home to one of the country's top young
riders, Ruben Garcia.
In the morning's race, British rider Tom Deacon, who lives in Spain,
took the win by half a second ahead of Fairclough and then Vazquez. However
in the second race Deacon had a problem and wasn't able to improve on
his time, whereas Fairclough pushed to find another two seconds on the
rocky and dry two-minute course, and in so doing, won the race.
"That was a lot of fun that race. I don't get to race on that type
of surface often. The locals here are really into their racing which is
great to see," said Fairclough. "It's hard for me to imagine
that this was the last time I will ride the Honda. It has been an amazing
experience this year and I'm really happy to have been part of it".
"Damn, Brendan smoked me today!" said Vazquez after his defeat.
"Actually, the times were all really close and you couldn't make
a single mistake on this course. I had a great run in the second race
and just enjoyed being down here. I love it when I come down here, I might
have to look for an apartment here; it feels like home now!"
Back in 2004, Greg Minnaar took Honda's first race win outside of Japan.
The race was also in Spain as a round of the Andalucian Cup held in the
southern coastal town of Motril.
Dates for US mountain bike nationals finalized
USA Cycling finalized its calendar of mountain bike national championships
for 2008. Dates and venues were announced for titles to be awarded in
cross country, gravity, marathon, 24 hour and collegiate disciplines.
All four venues return after hosting championships in 2007.
July 4: USA Cycling Mountain Bike Marathon National Championships to
July 17-20: USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships to Mount
Snow Resort in West Dover, Vermont
August 2-3: USA Cycling 24-Hour Mountain Bike National Championships to
9-Mile County Forest in Wausau, Wisconsin
October 24-26: USA Cycling Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships
to Banner Elk, North Carolina
Ripon College to offer scholarships
Wisconsin's Ripon College announced it will offer cycling as a team sport
for men and women beginning with competition in mountain biking next fall.
The Red Hawk cycling team will compete at the Division 2 level as a member
of the Midwest Collegiate Cycling Conference against colleges and universities
from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.
Ripon is the first college in Wisconsin to offer cycling as an officially
sanctioned part of its athletic program and is only one of several throughout
the country. Ric Damm will serve as the team's first cycling coach. He
brings 10 years of racing experience with him as a regular participant
of the Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) and various Wisconsin Cycling
Association (WCA) road events.
"Hopefully, I can transfer my experiences training and racing into
support for our student-athletes who want to push themselves to new levels
of competition in a sport that they love," said Damm, who is also
Ripon College's director of publications and institutional image. "Cycling
is a passion for me, and I plan to build this program with young men and
women who share that passion."
For more information on the school's new team, visit www.ripon.edu/athletics/cycling.
60km of trails in Aussie 24-hour triple loop
By John Stevenson
Australian 24-hour race organisers seem to be battling to see who can
offer the longest and most interesting race courses. A few weeks ago the
Scott 24-Hour in Canberra boasted a 39km course with two distinct loops
and now the Kona 24-hour, set for December 1-2 in Forrest, Victoria, is
offering 60km of trails in three loops.
Race director Kristjan "Snozza" Snorrason is raving about the
quality of the trails in the area around the Victoria country town of
Forrest. "[They are] best I have ever seen. I know it is a big call,
but they have to be ridden to be believed," he says. The course will
feature, "tight and twisty tea-tree tracks, curvy trails that disappear
around giant ferns and unbelievable berm rides through beautiful rainforest."
Snozza plans to mix up the 24 hour race format with an unusual twist.
The race will use one of the three loops during the first daylight stretch,
another at night and a third for the finishing loops on Sunday morning.
The idea is to have a "rollercoaster single track to get things started,
a speedy flowing loop for night laps and then something fresh to test
your skills in the morning," he says.
Renowned trail builder Glen Jacobs has built many of the Forrest trails.
Jacobs was responsible for the legendary 1996 world championships course
in Cairns, Australia and has been working on the courses at Mt Stromlo,
Canberra, Australia for the 2009 worlds. Those trails have also been getting
But you don't get great trails without local knowledge and local trail
builder Jeff Fox has also been instrumental in constructing the tracks,
along with Victoria's Department of Sustainability and Environment.
"The quality of his work is fantastic," says Snozza. "It
puts him up there with the best trail builders in the world. Jeff showed
us well over 30km of different trails that were all worthy of being in
the event! We can't have a loop that does justice to all of them, but
don't want riders to miss out, hence the three course concept."
Race centre will be at the Yaugher-Forrest football ground where the
football club will be serving spit roast and beer. Entries are limited
to 800, either as solo riders or in teams of between two and six riders
or teams of 10.
For more information, visit www.fullgaspromotions.com.au.
Australian desert mountain bike epic returns
By John Stevenson
Australian race organisers Rapid Ascent have announced details of the
Bullrider Mountain Bike Stage Race in the MacDonnell Ranges around Alice
Springs, Northern Territory. The five-day, seven stage event will run
May 19 - 23, 2008, with all stages starting and finishing "within rolling
distance of Alice Springs," according to Rapid Ascent.
The Bullrider is the reincarnation of the event formerly known as the
Central Australian Bike Challenge (CABC). The couple hundred riders that
took part in the 2006 Central Australian Bike Challenge still talk in
hushed tones of amazing scenery, swooping singletrack and perfect winter
desert conditions. Hushed, that is, unless the memories take over and
they start to rave, and then weep because the original organisers were
unable to continue the race in 2007.
The Bullrider returns to the CABC terrain and some of the organising
team from CABC are on board to provide local knowledge. "Jack Oldfield
approached us to take it over in the wake of [our] Otway Odyssey success,"
said Andrew Connolly of Rapid Ascent to BikeRadar. Connolly says
that the original CABC team "have basically set the course and told us
exactly how they used to run it. Given how well it was received pretty
much universally, we figured it would be stupid to ignore it.
"There's a few things we can do quite well, but we're not looking at
running it 'our way' per se, simply adding to what was already a great
The local trail fairies have been busy though. "Apparently the trails
are better now than when it used to be run - more quality tracks have
been built," says Connolly. Highlights of the Bullrider include a 45-second
dash-for-cash time trial stage up Anzac Hill in the centre of Alice Springs,
and, at the other end of the scale, a 90km mass-start run from Red Ross
Station deep in the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges back to the Alice.
Reminiscing about the CABC, Sydney rider Matt Barr told BikeRadar, "The
locals have put in some amazing work over time, building some great singletrack
into the hills around town. Couple that with some longer stages that take
in the fantastic McDonnell Ranges makes the riding top notch. Yes, there
was lots of sand. And more than a few corrugations. But that's really
part of the fun."
The prize list for serious types is pretty generous, with AUS$2,500 on
offer for the first male and female riders, down to AUS$300 for fifth.
Registration opens Monday. For more information, visit www.rapidascent.com.au/Bullrider.
Registration opens for Albstadt MTB Classic
The Gonso Albstadt MTB Classic 2008 announced registration opens this
week for its event on June 15. In addition to hosting the European marathon
championships for licensed riders, the event holds races of three different
distances for the non-licensed rider, and for the third year in a row,
it serves as the German National Championships for health professionals
Distance options are 23, 46 and 100km. For the first time in history,
there will be a U23 category for both the men and women. Participants
should expect a scenic course through the hills of the Swabian Alb with
plenty of spectators.
For Registration and more race information, visit www.albstadt-mtb-classic.de.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)