MTB news & racing round-up for September 7, 2007
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Edited by Sue George
Worlds happening in Fort William
By Rob Jones
Liu Ying (China) dominated
Photo ©: Rob Jones
The best mountain bikers in the world have converged on Fort William,
Scotland, for the UCI Mountain
Bike World Championships which started Tuesday and will continue through
The elite men and women will get their chance to race the cross country
course, set with the mighty Ben Nevis Mountain as a backdrop, on Saturday.
It's a 7.9 kilometre circuit (7.6 kilometres for the opening lap) described
by American pro Adam Craig as "a climber's race for sure."
The newly crowned world singlespeed champion had more to say about the
course, "I'm not really a big fan; you go up a lot and then down,
it's been over-prepped to the point that it's a decent bike path, really.
I prefer the old one; it was more raw."
23 and junior
women and the junior men have already had a chance to race the course.
The talented young Chinese women made their mark in the U23 race with
Liu Ying and Chengyuan Ren taking first and second place ahead of Elisabeth
Osl (Austria). Ren was the U23 women's champion in 2006.
Alla Boyko (Ukraine) won the junior women's event Wednesday while Thomas
Litscher (Switzerland) took the junior
men's event Thursday. That was Switzerland's second gold of the championships.
Switzerland also won the team relay opening event Tuesday ahead of Poland
and the US.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
The American squad was thrilled with its bronze in the team
relay. Led by Craig and Georgia Gould, with Sam Schultz as the U23
rider and Ethan Gilmour the junior man, the team logged the highest-ever
American finish in the event. A strategic decision to send Gould off first
and sacrifice an early lead paid off for the US Team as the only squad
to opt for a slow start and a fast finish.
"I figured we'd be better off if we let Georgia ride by herself
because that's what she's been doing all year anyway," Craig explained
of the team's tactics. "She could time trial it and then the younger
boys were fine with just picking off a person or two a lap. I figured
if I was on the last lap with a bunch of people to catch, I'd be fired
up. It's good for morale to be passing people."
The sun finally came out after the junior men's cross country race Thursday,
just in time for downhill qualifying. Riders are reporting that the course
is drying out quickly. The top times in qualifying were posted by British
riders in the junior men's (Richard Cunningham) and elite women's (Rachel
Atherton) categories, while Floriane Pugin (France) was fastest for junior
women and Greg Minnaar (South Africa) for elite men, just ahead of another
Brit, Gee Atherton.
4X racers are also racing qualifying rounds Friday. The 4X will wrap
up Saturday with the Downhill finals on Sunday. The 4X is considerably
longer than the previous version, with the first corner crucial to winning.
Weiss unfit for racing
By Rob Jones
Early Thursday morning, the UCI performed blood tests on five teams:
Austria, Belgium, South Africa, Denmark and Sweden. Michael Weiss of the
Austrian squad was found "unfit for racing" and will not be
allowed to start in Saturday's elite men's cross country race. No other
racers were reported as "unfit". Weiss is now unable to race
for 15 days.
In a statement, Bikin' Cyprus Team Manager Michalis Hadjioannou said
a high haematocrit level does not automatically mean that one has used
banned substances. He mentioned that there are some other reasons that
the level can pass 50 percent.
"I know, Michi usually has a high haematocrit level, and in the
first instance we trust him," Hadjioannou said.
"Before making further comments on the case, we will await the
results of the samples the inspectors took. We stand for a clean sport
and in the riders' contracts are clear on anti-doping," he said.
Weiss declared himself "very disappointed. I have done nothing
wrong. The urine control will show that. But I still have to manage it
mentally," said the 26 year-old rider.
Leuchs leading New Zealand Worlds team
Kashi Leuchs (Cannondale-Vredestein)
Oceania champion Kashi Leuchs hopes he has recovered from a bout of asthma
as he plans to chase a top finish for New Zealand in this weekend's UCI
Mountain Bike World Championship in Scotland. He's in Scotland leading a
Kiwi team of more than two dozen racers.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Leuchs, 29, currently ranked 14th in the world, bounced back from fatigue
and an asthma attack to finish second in a road race in Europe recently.
That finished bolstered his confidence.
"I can say my legs are feeling super and my confidence is growing
by the day," Leuchs said on his website. "My only big concern
now is my asthma, which is continuing to cause issues still," he
said last week.
The double Olympian, has five finishes in the top 11 or better including
two fifth placings in the UCI World Cup series this year. He was 16th
in the world championships last year in Rotorua but would love to break
into the top 10.
On the women's side, New Zealand's cross country hopes are with Rosara
Joseph, now studying at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. She
was second in the Commonwealth Games last year in cross country and has
two top-25 World Cup finishes earlier in the season.
2004 women's world downhill champion, 29 year-old Vanessa Quin is recovering
from a broken neck suffered at the national championships. She is currently
ranked 25th in the world after top-10 finishes in three recent world cup
contests in North America and Europe. Queenstown's Scarlett Hagen, the
2004 junior world champion, who is ranked 10th in the world cup, is looking
to make her mark after graduating to the elite division. She's already
earned two top-10 finishes in Spain and Switzerland.
"My goal is to have a solid run and finish in the top eight women
in the world" the 20 year-old Hagen said from Scotland. "I am
feeling strong after two months of hard riding in Whistler, Canada, but
it is a difficult sport to predict. I will be giving it my best shot and
we'll just have to see if that's good enough."
"This is the one race I work everyday of the year towards."
said the 2007 New Zealand elite women's series and national champion.
"I get one timed run. It takes total focus, strength and speed to
finish the race with a good time," she said, "but it's also
wicked fun. I really love racing downhill."
She'll be joined by Jenna Makgill, seventh in the UCI rankings, with
one top-10 finish this year in Spain and 14th in Canada, and Sam Blenkinsop,
second in the junior downhill world championships in Rotorua last year,
who has also moved up to the men's elite division this season.
New Zealand Cross Country Worlds team
Men : Marcus Roy, Michael Northcroft, Stu Holthan, Kashi Leuchs, Eric
Junior: James Williamson, Connor MacFarlane, Alex MacGregor, Ashley Hough
Women: Rosara Joseph, Anga MacDonald, Jennifer O'Connor, Kaytee Boyd
Junior: Samara Shepherd
New Zealand Gravity - 4X/ Downhill team
Men: Nathan Rankin, Sam Blenkinsop, Kieran Bennett, Glenn Haden, Mike
Skinner, Reon Boe
Junior: Mat Scoles, Michael Langford, David Scandrett, Peter Cooper
Women: Vanessa Quin, Jenna Makgill, Scarlett Hagen, Amy Laird, Olivia
New Zealand finished 14th of 15 teams in the team race Tuesday. The elite
men's and women's cross country races are scheduled for Saturday. 4X finals
happen Friday and Downhill finals are scheduled for Sunday.
Recovered Barrel racing again
Fabien Barrel announced earlier this week that he would race worlds after
all. "It was exactly four weeks ago that I came back with
a broken foot from Canada," he said. "After a strong and
permanent investment in my recovery, I finally received the ok from the
doctors to leave for the Worlds in Fort Williams."
"Rigid shoes should help me to go to the end of this adventure,"
he hoped. Barrel considered his participation in the race so soon after
injury a victory in itself, and he thanked supporters and promised to
give it his all.
Seriously injured Llanes begins recovery
By Sue George with assistance from James Herrera
Tara Llanes crashed, but without
serious injury at the 2006 Worlds
Photo ©: Rob Jones
During a semi final heat with eventual Jeep KOM race winner Jill Kintner
on September 1 in Beaver Creek, Colorado, Tara Llanes entered the second
to last straight on the course and went over the bars on obstacle that
sent her over the bars, coming down hard on her head then back. She was
rushed to Vail Valley Medical Center, then Denver Health Hospital, where
a specialty spinal cord team worked on her for seven hours over Saturday
night. Llanes' crash caused a fracture to the C7 and L1 vertebra and damage
to the spinal cord, resulting in a below the waist paralysis, a condition
her surgeons say is most likely permanent, but there is always a possibility
that things will change for the better.
According to her My Space page, Llanes made it through "another
surgery and is now breathing on her own and able to communicate with friends
and family." She initially reported no feeling below her waist.
Giant's Travis Chipres spoke with Cyclingnews Thursday after returning
from Denver Health Medical Center, where he'd spent several days with
Tara and her family. "Her spirits are up," he said. "Her
family is thankful for all the support and attention."
Llanes has been an athlete and champion of many sorts. She began with
basketball in the third grade, going on to win a high school national
championship. While in junior high, she discovered BMX. "My mom and
I used to always pass this track, Orange BMX, on the side of the freeway.
I think my nagging finally got to her and one night we stopped and watched
the racing," said Llanes. "By the next week, my mom bought me
a pink CW with matching pink and grey AXO gear and we went back to the
track. I ended up getting second place. Who would have known that night
would have changed my future?"
For the next few years, Tara and her biggest fan and supporter, Mom,
flew around the country competing at national level events. Along the
way, she acquired Haro as a sponsor. "After a few years on the team
I started to here about mountain biking. I was 16 years old and talked
to my team manager about getting me a mountain bike to try out. He finally
agreed and I went to a race in Big Bear and won in the junior class...
Since then I've been able to travel the world and meet a lot of new friends."
Llanes is currently sponsored by Giant Bicycles.
James Herrera, Llanes' coach for the past two years and friend, said,
"I can't even begin to express just how incredible this girl is.
As an athlete, she is a coach's dream: a fierce competitor, dedicated,
motivated, and upbeat in every way. Having to pull back the reins on how
long or hard she'd train was my biggest chore. I can quite honestly say,
I've met very few people in my life that are even remotely this driven."
"But her athleticism and competitive spirit are only a small part
of what makes Tara the person she is. She is compassionate, grateful,
and helpful to every person she comes across, always placing the wellbeing
of others before her own. On more than one occasion, her actions, the
way she lives her life, became my example to follow."
In lieu of further gifts, such as flowers, the family is asking well-wishers
to consider sending a contribution to a "Road to Recovery" fund
being set up to support Llanes during her rehabilitation. More information
will be posted at www.tarallanesroadtorecovery.com or contributions can
be made to Tara Llanes, Road to Recovery Fund, 4068 Green Ave Los Alamitos,
CA 90720, USA.
Jeep KOM series wraps up & awards overall winners
Riders caught some serious air
Photo ©: Jeep KOM
At the grand finale of the Jeep King of the Mountain series, where Tara
Llanes sustained her injury, at Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado, Czech
Republic's Michal Prokop and Anneke Beerten of the Netherlands's brought
home the coveted overall crowns.
Entering the final race, the men's and women's standings had never been
so tight in the five-year history of the series. Five pairs of athletes
were tied and seven had a legitimate chance of earning the top prize and
driving off the mountain in a new 2008 Jeep Liberty.
Prokop, the two-time defending series champion, had won the first race
of the season in Park City, Utah, before heading to China to compete in
the UCI World Cup BMX Championships during the second race. Arriving in
Beaver Creek, the Czech BMX and mountain bike national champion knew there
was much ground to be covered and wasted no time trying to reestablish
his dominance. Prokop beat Australia's Jared Graves in the final matchup
based on the time differential from the two heats.
"I honestly didn't think I would be able to win this competition
today, but I tried my best and it turned out well for me," said Prokop.
"I just tried to be as fast as possible out there, and was careful
to watch my turns and cover my inside. Maybe I got lucky with Lopes going
down early, but I'm thrilled to win again."
A close battle
Photo ©: Jeep KOM
Beerten, who had captured the title at the previous round in California,
was forced to start the day with a tough match-up against co-leader Melissa
Buhl based on the seeding runs. The world's second-ranked racer with two
World Cup wins in 2007 was able to get past her rival and advance to the
semi-finals, where she swept Fionn Griffiths to reach the finals.
Meanwhile, Jill Kintner, the world's number-one ranked mountain bike
racer and two-time defending series champion was taking care of business
on the other side of the bracket. Kintner and Beerten met up in the final,
with Kintner coming out on the top for the day and Beerten taking the
"I really liked this course a lot, but it was hot out there and
became slippery in some spots," said Beerten. "It was nearly
impossible to have a perfect run, but I knew I had to be smooth and also
aggressive if I wanted to win that Jeep. Thankfully it all came together
For complete coverage, click
Team Giant wins Singlespeed Worlds
American Adam Craig
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Kelli Emmett and Adam Craig took home top honours at the Singlespeed
World Championships held in Aviemore, Scottland. Emmett took home a Sycip
custom singlespeed frame while Craig collected a Black Sheep custom Titanium
Participants from Germany, America, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and
many other countries blasted around the course which was specially tweaked
by locals trail builders Andy, David and Nash. They also drank beer from
Cairngorm Brewery, shook their tail feathers, and were blessed with an
array of prizes from assorted sponsors. They raced up to five laps each
after a LeMans style start.
As reported by Matt Ferrari on www.road2paris.wordpress.com, "The
highlight of the race was Adam's spectacular crash in just after crossing
the finishing area for his last lap. Craig, who'd played the part for
most of the race, riding in full costume [included denim outfit. -ed.]
and twice stopping for beers on course, was just putting away the beer
he'd been handed for the last lap when he hit an exposed rock with his
hands off the bar. He flew over the bike and hit the road with his forearms
and knees. He shook it off quickly and rode a stellar last lap to finish
with a handy lead, afterwards joking that he was thankful for the crash
as it took his mind off the newly inked tattoo." Winners of the Singlespeed
Worlds traditionally receive a tattoo.
Second placed Carl Decker reported to the seven mile mass roll-out ride
to the course in a kilt and tartan helmet cover, while Emmett raced in
a red unitard with thigh-high stockings.
Next year's worlds are set for Napa, California.
New champions at 24 hours of Adrenaline Solo Worlds
By Sue George, with assistance from Stuart Dorland
American Rebecca Rusch
Photo ©: 24 Hours of Adrenalin / Roman Roth
Two new champions, Tinker Juarez and Rebecca Rusch, won the 24 Hours
of Adrenaline World Solo Championship in Monterey, California, this weekend.
Juarez rode with Kelly Magelky for 21 hours and then attacked him for
the win. Nat Ross, Ernesto Marenchin, and Mark Hendershot took third through
fifth spots. Last year's second place Rusch, on the other hand, won by
a larger margin of two laps in the women's race. Lynda Wallenfels and
Sally Marchand Collins finished second and third.
Twice a bridesmaid, Tinker Juarez scorched the field to take home his
first title. Kelly Magelky (BMC / Sports Garage) of Colorado led the entire
race until lap 18 when Tinker blazed a 1:02 lap.
Temperatures at the start hovered around 100 degrees, well above seasonal
temperatures for the Monterey Bay area. While many riders found the 13.74-mile
course and 2,500 feet of climbing per lap challenging (especially in the
exposed heat) both Magelky and Juarez appeared to be less affected. They
rode away from the field after lap one. Overall third place finisher Nat
Ross (Gary Fisher) lost 14 minutes within the first three laps alone.
Santa Cruz Syndicate's Hendershot commented on the challenging conditions.
"It was a brutal race, over 100 degrees. Four of the top ten guys
were pulled off the course by medics."
On the women's side, Specialized rider Rebecca Rush moved up one place
from 2006 and finished well ahead of second place Lynda Wallenfels of
Colorado. Rush is an accomplish world class adventure racer who placed
second to Pau Sawicki at this year's USA Cycling 24 Hour Mountain Bike
Nationals, and she was determined to finish atop the standings this year.
Sawiciki (Ergon) lost 25 minutes during lap two and three. According
to her husband, the disappointed rider was pulled after only five laps;
her doctors had diagnosed her with a viral infection. Although she was
initially in the lead, she soon found her vision blurring (which caused
a crash) and she broke out in a cold sweat despite the 100 degree temperatures.
In a bizarre finish to the event, a brush fire burned up the Sea Otter
downhill course just as the race was ending.
For complete coverage of the 24 hours of Adrenaline, click
The Athertons: A family affair
By Steve Thomas
The Athertons: Dan, Rachel, and
Photo ©: Steve Thomas / Cyclingnews
The Atherton family home is located on the side of a spectacular mountain
valley and is shared by Dan, Gee, Rachel and their mother - and of course
a constant stream of transient mountain bikers. Life for the family team
of Commencal Animal began a lot further south, near Exeter in Devon, as
Dan explained, "We lived in a small village, and I started riding
BMX, then Gee and then Rachel began to come along and got into things.
We began building tracks; there wasn't much else to do."
Indeed building tracks is still a passion for the trio - especially Dan
who said, "We've got the dirt track, complete with start gates at
home, as well as numerous downhill tracks here in the mountains; one's
even ten minutes long. I'm really into that side of things, I love figuring
it out and building stuff."
The family home would be the envy of any mountain bike team, with a huge
workshop, a gym and store-rooms as well as the back "yard" dirt
track, and this is where much of their race preparation takes place. "What
we do on a daily basis depends some on the weather," said Gee. "In
the morning it's usually straight into the gym for training. Then we recover
some and do the admin type work, and then go riding."
Riding is a surprisingly mixed bag for the Athertons, and Dan is keyed
into the training element. "Sometimes we spend a lot of time here
at home on the track, practicing starts and dirt skills, largely for four
cross; other times we take the pickup and go downhilling. If there is
time between races, we go cross-country riding, and sometimes even on
the road. We often take the moto-cross bikes out."
Training and preparation have always been something that they have been
rumoured to take more seriously than others. "I think most riders
train hard really," said Dan. "We do put a lot of time in. But
we also work on three things - downhilling, four cross and freeriding
- others often just focus on one or two. I think if we chose to focus
on just one thing, then we would do a lot better."
To read the complete feature, click
here. Stay tuned for Part II.
Inaugural Nelson festival set for weekend
A weekend of fat tyre fun kicks off with the inaugural Nelson's Creek
three-day mountain bike festival beginning Friday, September 7 in South
Africa. Organized by Dirtopia, the festival will be hosted by Nelson's
Creek Wine Estate and will draw upon the regional knowledge of the Paarl
"The MTB Festival will give participants the opportunity to sample
some of the best mountain biking trails in the Boland area," said
Dirtopia's Meurant Botha. Daily rides of three distances will be available:
a short 15 25 km route, a medium 45 55 km route and a long
and challenging 80 100 km route. Riders can decide whether they
want to participate in the series of competitions or simply enjoy a weekend
of social riding.
The main competition will take the form of a three-day, stage format
race for individual riders tackling the long distance routes. The secondary
competition is open to riders of the medium and short distances. A two-day
competition is open to those who are unable to participate on the Friday,
and combines the Saturday and Sunday route options.
For more information, visit www.3daymtb.wordpress.com or www.dirtopia.co.za.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)