MTB news & racing round-up for September 15, 2007
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Edited by Sue George
2007 World Cup season to wrap up in Slovenia
By Rob Jones
The elite men's field will be fast
so soon after Worlds
Photo ©: Didier Weemaels
One week after the mountain bike world championships in Scotland, the
final event on the World Cup schedule is taking place September 14-16
in Maribor, Slovenia. Maribor is a new venue for the cross-country, but
it held a gravity World Cup for four years previously: 1999 - 2002. The
downhill World Cup was well attended in the past, attracting upwards of
25,000 spectators, and the weather forecast is excellent for the entire
weekend - sunny and mid-20s Celsius. Organizers are predicting 30,000-plus
The venue is to the south of Maribor, at the ski slopes of Pohorje, that
face north towards the city in the valley. Maribor is in the northeast
corner of Slovenia next to Austria, and is the second largest urban centre
in the country (after the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana). Originally
an industrial centre, it is reinventing itself as an academic and cultural
The cross-country will take place Saturday, on a circuit that is just
under five kilometres. Unlike the world championships last weekend - with
groomed trails and one long climb/descent - the Pohorje course is highly
technical, with lots of roots and tight, twisty turns.
For the opening lap, the riders will be sent up a gravel fire road to
spread them out - on the regular lap it is a rooty, singletrack climb
for much of the main ascent, so not many opportunities to pass. At the
top, the riders immediately lose all the altitude they gained. The first
part of the descent is technical and wooded, before moving out to open
grassy slopes. At the bottom the riders pass through the feed/tech zone
and do a second short, sharp technical climb and descent, before making
a slight uphill run to the finish line.
The top riders are all in attendance from the Worlds, and the racing
should be intense, since it is a final chance to score high UCI points
for world (and Olympic) rankings.
Irina Kalentieva (Russia) is focused
Photo ©: Didier Weemaels
Julien Absalon (Orbea) has already mathematically won the men's World
Cup, however, he is scheduled to race a full suspension bike for the first
time in a World Cup, and his sponsor is likely very anxious for a dually
win. Christoph Sauser (Specialized) was one of the strongest riders last
week, but a broken shoe put him out of contention for a medal, so he is
likely very hungry for a win. Sauser's team-mate Liam Killeen is also
here - after a respectable 44th place last week (he started 112th). Killeen
was encouraged by his returning form following an illness.
The Belgians and the Germans are set up for an interesting battle in
the men's race - cyclo-cross star Sven Nys stated earlier that the Worlds
would be his last mountain bike race, but then he finished 15th, meeting
Olympic qualification criteria. Belgium is also only a few points ahead
of Germany for the final three starting spots in Beijing, so Nys is back
on a mountain bike this weekend. Italian road star Gilberto Simoni (Saunier
Duval) is also here, making his bid for an Olympic spot.
On the women's side, newly minted world champion Irina Kalentyeva (Topeak-Ergon)
has all but clinched the women's title, so might be expected to take it
easy, however, she is anxious to show off her new rainbow stripes, and
the course suits her.
To read the complete preview, click
Singlespeed World Championships: A singular experience
By Jo Burt
The most recent edition the Singlespeed World Championships drew those
of the one-gear persuasion to Aviemore and the challenging Cairngorm hills
in the wild heart of Scotland during the first weekend in September. All
were there to celebrate and ride in the unique atmosphere that surrounds
Singlespeed Worlds, where just a small part of the action is the racing.
Riders head off
Photo ©: Matt Ferari
A global selection of riders, with well over a third coming from overseas,
arrived by plane, train and automobile. Some came by bike, with a small
group pedalling most of the length of the United Kingdom from the southwest
toe of England. Singlespeeders filled the cafes and bars of the outdoorsy
town, rode around the stunning countryside and, almost incidentally, raced.
Saturday saw the itinerant converge on the race headquarters of Bothy
Bikes for registration, mutual bike love - be that of the shonky or the
bling, guided rides and some pre-race competition. Rollapaluza were there
to provide cheerful rivalry on their roller-racing set-up; two cyclists
each on a bike mounted on rollers, connected to a huge dial. They battled
it out to race over a simulated 500m distance. It was fast and surprisingly
hard for something that only lasted about 20 seconds. The final heats
were for those with the best times; eventual winner Nigel Foskett from
Brighton, England, rode his opponent to a standstill.
Things then moved on to the contest to decide who would hold next year's
Singlespeed World Championships. The right to host the event has always
been decided rather differently. In fact, this year's organisers had won
the honour for Scotland in a drinking competition at the 2006 Singlespeed
Worlds in Stockholm, Sweden.
The 2008 hopeful hosts had to do a turn on the bike rollers, down a slug
of the (not at all) finest whisky and then perform their best interpretation
of a highland fling. Wrapped up in the fleeces, wooly hats, Buffs and
Goretex traditional to a Scottish summer, the crowd was eager for somewhere
warm to win. Their prayers were answered when Curtis Inglis from Napa,
California, was crowned triumphant. Cheers went up and everyone drifted
into the town to celebrate the decision with beer.
To read the complete feature, click
Absalon claims fourth world title
By Rob Jones
Julien Absalon really likes this
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Top-ranked Julien Absalon claimed his fourth consecutive world men's
cross country title last weekend in Fort William, Scotland at the UCI
World Mountain Bike Championships by dominating the 119-rider field in
the 48-kilometer race with a final time of two hours, 17 minutes and six
seconds. Rounding out the podium was a pair of Swiss riders as Ralf Naef
and Florian Vogel won the silver and bronze medals respectively.
The action started on the first climb, with Vogel attacking to open things
up. "To attack is the best defence. Everyone was watching Julien
(Absalon), Christoph (Sauser - Switzerland) and (Jose Antonio) Hermida
(Spain), and they weren't watching me so I was able to open a gap. This
let me go at my own speed and not have to fight for positions," Vogel
Behind, all the favourites were content to set a high tempo and wait
for someone to make a move. Eventually Vogel was caught by a small group
of riders. From it, Absalon would attack on lap four and quickly gain
30 seconds. By the bottom of the descent he was up to 45 seconds, and
early in the fifth lap nearing a minute.
"My main goal this season was to keep this beautiful jersey,"
said Absalon, explaining his ongoing motivation to win. "I made a
special preparation for the world championships, with the national team
coming here in April and video taped the circuit, and I trained all season
with this in mind."
When told he had broken Djernis' record, Absalon commented, "I am
very happy and proud to get the record, but it was not my major motivation
to win. I love this jersey. I was looking at it last night on my bed,
and I knew that I wanted to keep it again."
Riders like José Antonio Hermida Ramos (Spain) and Christoph Sauser (Switzerland)
dealt with mechanicals. Hermida Ramos stopped at a tech zone to deal with
a cracked fork that had resulted from a crash, while Sauser's right shoe
ripped open and he had resort to duct tape to hold it together. Cedric
Ravanel (France) also suffered a mechanical.
"The goal is always to beat Julien," said second placed Näf
after the race. "But he is the best. He is so steady and consistent
that I am proud have been able to win silver."
Russian Irina Kalentieva won her first world title over Sabine Spitz
(Germany) and Jingjing Wang (China) in the women's race. For complete
coverage of the men's
cross country world championship races, click here.
Hill and Jonnier win consecutive downhill crowns
Sam Hill (Australia) repeats
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Australian Sam Hill claimed his second consecutive elite men's downhill
World Championship last weekend in Fort William, Scotland. Hill posted
a time of 4:52.01 for the 2,820m course down the slopes of Ben Nevis,
the United Kingdom's highest mountain. Silver medallist Fabien Barel of
France was 0.64 seconds slower in 4:52.65 while Great Britain's Gee Atherton
was more than four seconds off Hill's pace with his bronze medal time
The 22 year-old Hill, also ranked number one in the world, went into
the final as the 24th seeded rider after posting a time more than 15 seconds
slower than his finals ride but his slow qualifying round proved to be
a tactical advantage.
"Everyone has their cameras out there and they're filming each other's
lines so I took different lines (in qualifying) and they're a lot sneakier,"
said Hill who despite his seeding run time had gone into the event as
the hot favourite. "I wanted to keep them to myself for the race
and I didn't want the pressure of being the last rider to start."
The Scottish Highlands delivered rain, mist and wind for the final turning
the course into a slippery slope of mud and rocks.
"I had a good run," said Hill who had to sit in the leader's
hot seat and wait for 23 other riders to tackle the Ben Nevis course before
knowing he had won. "I think it worked out (for me) with the wind
because it got stronger towards the end so the last few guys had a bit
of a disadvantage but that's the way worlds go.
"Maybe because I don't know what it's like (riding in the rain),
I go out and try and ride it like it's dry and it worked for me,"
said Hill after local media asked how the Australian rider could be so
dominant in the wet when his home area of West Australia is renowned for
hot, dry and sunny weather.
Favorites like British rider Steve Peat and Nathan Rennie both ran into
problems on the course. Peat said, "About 100 yards into the course
I went over the wood bridge transitioning to the dirt and the bike slipped
and both my feet came off and I landed heavy on the seat and it broke
off. When I rode the chair lift up the wind blew my bike badly and it
was barely hanging on by the seat. I think that might have weakened the
seat. The weather conditions up there were so gnarly. The wind was blowing
hard. I'm really gutted."
Sabrina Jonnier (France) defended
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Rennie had a fine run going and then entering the first woods section
he lipped and as he said, "I went straight over the bars. I was stunned
at first as to what happened. I ran back up to get my bike and kept going.
I just made one mistake after that. Im really pissed about it. I
had a really good run going and I was just 11 seconds back with the crash."
In the women's downhill 2006 Junior World Champion Tracey Hannah (5:39.89)
performed strongly in her first year at elite level to claim the bronze
medal. French defending champion Sabrina Jonnier won gold with her time
of 5:28.35 and Great Britain's Rachel Atherton posted a time of 5:32.36
to finish in second place.
"It wasn't the best for me, as it was wet and muddy, and I am from the
south of France where it is dry," said Jonnier in contrast to Hill. "Also,
it felt like I was on enemy territory, with Rachel and Tracy (Moseley)
having so much support! But I focussed and just went for it. I broke my
derailleur somewhere on the track, and made two huge mistakes when I took
the wrong lines. It was so easy to make mistakes because the course was
so long. But there was no way that I wanted to give up my jersey; I like
it too much."
Check out full results of the men's
Minnaar injured at Worlds
Greg Minnaar (South Africa) took
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Following x-rays, Greg Minnaar discovered that he rode the remaining
two minutes and 40 seconds of the World Championship downhill
final last weekend in Fort William, Scotland, with a broken and dislocated
shoulder. Despite losing time in the crash and riding the second portion
of the race injured, Minnaar, who qualified
fastest, only missed the podium, finishing fourth by a few seconds.
Minnaar will not race in Maribor, Slovenia, this weekend at the World
Cup finals, and will be off the bike for at least three to four weeks.
He will still travel to Maribor to support his team-mates before returning
to South Africa on October 10. In particular, Minnaar will be cheering
for his team-mate Matti Lehikoinen, who finished a career-best sixth place
at Worlds last weekend.
"My fault I crashed. My shoulder is hurting a lot so I'm off to
hospital now," said Minnaar soon after his crash. "I know I
came here with enough to win and I feel that had things been a little
different, there was a medal with my name on it, but I crossed it up in
the woods and came down heavy. Congratulations to the guys that finished
ahead of me, they did a good job."
Minnaar's shoulder has been dislocated three times this year already
- all anteriorly. This dislocation was a posterior one, more uncommon
and very painful. His shoulder was put back in place this time three hours
after the event while he was sedated. Minnaar also suffered a fracture
of his scapula.
US celebrates two titles and five medals at Worlds
18 Americans collected two titles and five medals for their country at the
World Championships last weekend in Fort William, Scotland.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Georgia Gould, Adam Craig, Ethan Gilmour and Sam Schultz opened the
competition with a bronze medal performance in the team
relay. It was the first-ever medal for the Americans in the team relay.
Successfully defending champion Switzerland and Poland occupied the top
and second steps of the podium.
was where the US really shined as Jill Kintner and Brian Lopes won
the women's and men's titles, and Melissa Buhl took a bronze medal, taking
a total three of six possible medals in the discipline. Kintner and Lopes
served up a replay of the 2005 world championships with their wins.
Lopes survived a crash in the finals to take his win ahead of France's
Romain Saladini and the Netherlands' Jurg Meijer. "Leading up to
the semifinals I had pretty good gates and led pretty much from start
to finish in each round," Lopes explained. "Unfortunately in
my semi I came out of my pedal on the second stroke straight-away, and
when that happens you pretty much fall off the pace real quick. I was
pretty bummed out as soon as it happened, but I got my foot back in, grabbed
a gear and just started pedaling. Thank God they added a little bit of
length to the course because if it was a 20-second course it wouldn't
have played out too well for me."
Kintner, who was riding a two year winning streak, defeated Anneke Beerten
(Netherlands), Buhl and Jana Horakova (Czech Republic) to earn her third
consecutive rainbow jersey. Like Lopes in the men's contest, Kintner looked
unbeatable all evening and jumped out to an early lead in the final once
the gate dropped. Almost immediately after the start, Buhl and the top-seeded
Horakova crashed, leaving Kintner to hold off only Beerten for the win.
Of the two downed riders, Buhl was the quickest to recover before descending
down the course to claim the bronze medal.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
"The length they added (from the previous World Cups) was great
- it was tricky with the sandy dirt," said Kintner. "There weren't
a lot of options, so the start was critical, you had to get out of the
gate first or second. This was a bit weaker course than Rotorua (New Zealand,
site of last year's Worlds), because there weren't enough passing options."
John Swanguen gave the US its fifth and final medal of the week with
a second-place finish in the junior
men's downhill competition. Swanguen captured the silver medal after
descending 2.8 kilometers down Aonach Mor, the ninth-highest peak in the
United Kingdom, just 2.07 seconds off the pace of gold medalist and British
racer Ruaridh Cunningham and half a second ahead of bronze medalist Matthew
Scoles of New Zealand. Swanguen's medal was the first American downhill
medal since 2004 when Kyle Strait won the junior men's bronze in Les Gets,
Vink to make comeback in Maribor
Team Dolphin cyclist and Belgian champion Nico Vink will be returning
to world-level downhill competition this weekend at the World Cup race
in Maribor, Slovenia. Vink is looking forward to competing again after
being injured for two months following a severe back injury. He rode moto-cross
last weekend to keep fit and is keen to set a good time in Maribor.
Tech goodies for the world's elite racers
By Luke Webber in Fort William, Scotland
The new hoop from DT Swiss
Photo ©: Luke Webber
With most major new product announcements made at Eurobike
the previous week one would think that there was little in the way of
exclusive tech action around the pits this year in Fort William. However,
there were still a number of interesting setups to see, provided you looked
For the cross-country racers, this year's MTB World Championships were
dominated by featherweight wheels using either carbon fiber rims or aluminum
ones from Stan's NoTubes. The NoTubes ZTR-series rims have long been popular
among elite riders thanks to their ultralight weight and easy tubeless
compatibility. The readily available consumer versions are already shocklingly
light at roughly 350g a piece, but rumors circulating around the pits
suggested that certain riders competed on special 240g versions.
In contrast, some riders opted for tubular Reynolds Topo rims made from
unidirectional carbon fiber. These were laced to Hope Pro III hubs with
custom Dugast tyres for what was not only easily one of the trickest setups
in the field, but one almost completely impervious to pinch flats as well.
DT Swiss launched a new carbon fiber road wheelset at this year's Eurobike
show but stealthily debuted a mountain bike version at Fort William that
was compatible with standard clincher treads. In a possible attempt to
go unnoticed, the new rim looked remarkably ordinary and was almost entirely
unmarked save for the 330g sticker and giveaway carbon weave. These were
paired these with DT Swiss' new 190 ceramic hubs to yield another featherweight
wheelset that at least appeared to be reasonably durable as well.
To read the complete feature, click
here or check out the pro bikes of repeat world champions Sabrina
Jonnier or Julien
2008 IMBA World Summit to Utah
The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) will host its 2008
World Summit in Park City, Utah from June 18-21. The annual summit draws
together mountain biking advocates, land managers, ski resort professionals,
trailbuilders, tourism officials and the bike industry for collaboration,
planning and celebration. The 2008 edition is open to the public. Topics
for discussion will include economic power of trails, sustainable trailbuilding,
liability and risk management, urban trail networks and building club
The Utah town is an appropriate host for a mountain biking advocacy summit.
"Park City is a model trails community and IMBA's host club, the
Mountain Trails Foundation, is also a model of shared-use leadership,
with non-motorized groups coming together to create amazing trails and
maybe more important, a tight-knit trails community," said IMBA executive
director Mike Van Abel.
"Park City was losing its trails to rapid development. In the course
of a couple of years, we went from trails being an after-thought in the
planning process to where trails are given equal weight with streets and
utilities in new development," said Mountain Trails Foundation founder
and IMBA Board Member Tom Clyde. "Practically all of the trail system
is on private land, and now there is almost a competition among the development
community to see who can build the best trails. This is because an active
trails community got behind the cause."
The 2007 summit drew 400 delegates from 17 countries to Whistler, British
2008 IMBA Summit Preliminary Schedule
- June 18: Mobile Workshops (day) and Opening Ceremonies (evening).
- June 19-20: Seminars, networking and great afternoon riding and evening
- June 21: IMBA Epic Ride - Mid Mountain Trail and Park City Community
Terror of Teaberry wraps up Michaux Series
Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication)
Photo ©: Bill McCarrick
The 95,000 acres of The Michaux State Forest in Pennsylvania live a tenuous
existence. Technically, the forest is set aside to provide natural resources
such as lumber, minerals and water. If you are a mountain biker, that
land adds up to hundreds of miles of unprotected trail. It is not uncommon
for local riders to have their trail disappear into a clear-cut, left
with nothing but a vague idea where the trail might continue on the other
side of the harvested tree farm. The curse and blessing of such an arrangement
is the fact that forest managers are reluctant to establish permanent
trail systems. Therefore what you end up with is a network of unmarked
and lightly ridden trails that often need to be cleared or created before
a race can be run through it.
Last year, racers at the Terror of Teaberry came out to one of these
cuts and found themselves following a short reroute through the woods,
without a trail to follow. In its place, there were arrows posted to the
trees, and riders were free to choose their line between the red and white
pointers. Instead of irritating racers, the detour only heightened the
sense of adventure participants come to expect from the forest and promoters.
That is the stage to which the East coast's elite endurance racers will
flock this weekend, for a chance to tackle some of the most technical
and demanding courses in the racing world. Nearly half of Trek/VW's Factory
team will be there for The Terror of Teaberry on Sunday, September 16
for the final race of the Michaux Endurance series. Trek / VW's Jeremiah
Bishop, Chris Eatough, Jeff Schalk and Sue Haywood are slated to tackle
the 50 mile loop. Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication) and Eatough will
continue their heated battle for the series title. Only three minutes
separate them after the first two races. Since taking second to Eatough
in the National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE), which concluded earlier
this month at the Shenandoah Mountain 100, Price is looking for a little
payback and to defend his 2006 Michaux series title.
In the women's field, regional Trek/VW rider Cheryl Sorenson intends
to use her local knowledge to edge out Shenandoah Mountain 100 winner
Sue Haywood. Other women riders to challenge them including Carolyn Popovic
(Trek/VW), who was second to Haywood at the Shenandoah 100, and Michelle
Schnieder (Visit PA).
Gettysburg Bicycle puts on the three-race series with the intention
of giving riders an epic day of supported riding. This year they have
teamed up with the Mid-Atlantic Series in promoting the Terror of Teaberry.
For more information, visit www.racemichaux.com.
Docklands 12hr MTB enduro
The fifth annual Docklands 12 hour mountain bike enduro is slated for
Saturday, September 15 at the Melbourne 4x4 Training & Proving Ground,
Werribee in Victoria, Australia. The 2007 edition features a course that
received a makeover, including some new alignments, major B-Line action,
and other tweaks. 800 racers are expected to compete in teams of two,
three, four, or six for AUS$10,000 in prizes.
For more information, visit www.fullgaspromotions.com.au/new/12hour.html.
Ulster holds cross country championships
On Saturday, September 15, the fifth round of the Ulster League hosted
by Dromara Cycling Club will be held on Dunmore Mountain near Ballynahinch
in Ireland. This race will also be used to contest the Ulster Championships.
This is the second year that Dromara CC has proudly held these prestigious
championships. For more information, visit www.dromaracc.co.uk.
Bear Creek to end MASS series
The Mid-Atlantic Super Series will wrap up its championship series with
a weekend doubleheader at the Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie,
Pennsylvania, on September 22-23. Saturday will feature a short track
event. Sunday, racers will contest the cross country on a course about
eight miles long, with six miles of technical singletrack, rock gardens,
log bridges and plenty of switchbacks. There will be over 700 feet (200
meters) of climbing per lap.
One junior will go home with a new ride donated by Rob Lichtenwalner
of Team Bear Naked/Cannondale, a series regular and well-known endurance
racer. The top three finishers at the end of the series from each the
junior classes will be entered into a drawing to win the bike.
Pork Chop Challenge raises funds in Minnesota
The 2007 Revolution Cycle and Ski Single Track Escape mountain bike race
on Saturday, September 22 and the Pork Chop Challenge 'cross race on Sunday,
September 23 will serve as fundraisers for the Nordic Ski Club and the
Cycling Club with all proceeds going directly to trail development, grooming,
and snowmaking for both clubs in central Minnesota. The Single Track Escape
will be the Finals of the MNSCS Series. For more information, visit www.mnscs.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)