MTB news & racing round-up for September 18, 2007
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Edited by Greg Johnson
Fort William wants long-term World Cup future
A large crowd headed to Fort William
for the worlds
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Discussions have begun over the future of Fort William as a World Cup
venue, following an announcement by EventScotland it had gathered the
funds required to secure the event's future through to 2012. The organisation
begun talks with the British Cycling Federation and the UCI at the weekend
and hopes those talks will lead to a long term deal to host a round of
the Mountain Bike World Cup.
"Cycling is now one of our major sports with the growth in mountain biking,
the success of people like Chris Hoy, the new velodrome which is due to
be built in Glasgow and the Tour of Britain in Scotland this week," EventScotland
chief operating officer Paul Bush said. "We have put together a funding
package to see the event through until 2012."
The pitch for a long-term deal is hot on the heals of Fort William's
hosting of the 2007 Mountain Bike
World Championships on September 4-9. The World Championship event
was hugely successful, with organisers reporting some 40,000 people attended
the week-long event.
Event organiser Mike Jardine, of management company Rare Management,
is confident of securing a four year deal with the international governing
body and believes it will serve as the perfect lead into the 2012 Manchester
Olympic Games. "The UCI are quite keen to get some classic events on the
calendar," said Jardine. "It would be good to get a bit of consistency
in the build-up to 2012 London Olympics and hopefully 2014 Commonwealth
Games, of which Glasgow is a bid city."
Fort William, which is already confirmed as a World Cup host in 2008,
has held rounds of the series on five occasions.
World Cup winners confirmed
Julien Absalon (Orbea)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
The last of the 2007 Mountain Bike World Cup winners have been settled
following the cross country, 4X and downhill series finales
in Slovenia at the weekend. Heading into the weekend's event at the
re-developed Maribor venue most of the titles were a mere formality, with
the men's cross country and downhill standings already locked away.
Julien Absalon's (Orbea) successful World Cup defense in the Elite Men's
cross country at the previous round in St Félicien, Canada left Spain's
José Hermida (Multivan Merida) fighting Switzerland's Christoph Sauser
(Specialized) for second place. "Julien wasn't much in the race because
he had achieved his goal already, and he only was there to come to his
team-mates' aid," admitted Orbea team manager Ixio Barandiaran.
"I wanted to win here, which unfortunately did not work out," said Hermida,
who successfully defended his second place in the overall standings, despite
being beaten by Sauser on the day. "But I managed to defend my second
place in the World Cup's overall ranking and I'm very satisfied with that."
Australia's Sam Hill (Iron Horse/Monster
Photo ©: MTB.si
In the Elite Women's cross country standings Russia's Irina Kalentieva
(Topeak) needed little more than a finish to wrap up the World Cup victory
from Canada's Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain Haywood). The points
deficit between the pair meant Premont's second place made little impression
on Kalentieva's series lead, a situation not helped by the Russian's third
placing in Slovenia.
It was a similar situation in the Elite Men and Elite Women's downhill
standings, with the two world champions locking away their World Cup wins
to add the icing to the cake. Australia's Samuel Hill (Iron Horse/Monster
Energy) continued the blistering pace that earned him an unassailable
series lead, taking another World Cup win to settle the gap between he
and Finland's Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda) at a massive 384 points.
Irina Kalentieva (Topeak)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Hill's fellow world champion and Iron Horse/Monster Energy team-mate
Sabrina Jonnier ensured the squad took home two World Cups. The French
woman finished down in sixth for the event, but still claimed the Elite
Women's series by 130 points over Great Britain's Tracy Moseley (Kona
In the Elite Men's 4X an uncharacteristic mistake that prevented Brian
Lopes from making the big final did little to damage a massive lead in
the World Cup standings over the Czech Republic's Michal Prokop. The American
took out the series with 1010 points to Prokop's 650.
The Netherlands' Anneke Beerten claimed the round victory in the Elite
Women's 4X and capitalized on a poor performance by American Jill Kintner
to claim the World Cup win. Beerten turned a 40 point deficit into a 150
point advantage to take out the title.
The mentioned World Cup winners join France's Thomas Dietsch (Gewiss
Bianchi) and Finland's Pia Sundstedt (Gewiss Bianchi) who claimed the
Elite Men and Women Marathon World cups respectively at the last round
in Verviers, Belgium last month.
Barel knocked out in Maribor
Former downhill World Champion Fabien Barel was one of many to fall victim
of the revised Maribor track in Slovenia at the weekend's season ending
World Cup round. The Frenchman was hospitalised after crashing hard on
the course and suffering a deep concussion.
The tough as nails rider didn't let his spill on the track, which features
a new, highly technical, high-speed forest section at the bottom half,
stop him from returning to the track to watch his rivals contest Sunday's
The fall was another blow for Barel's 2007 season, with the two time
world champion only returning to action at the previous weekend's World
Championships in Fort William after breaking his foot in Canada earlier
Riders head to Beijing for Olympic preview
With the World Championships and World Cup finale run and won, the cream
of international cross country riders are now turning their attention
to Beijing, China where they will get a taste of the 2008 Olympic course.
Riders from around the globe will gather in Beijing on September 29 for
the Olympic Mountain Bike Test Event to be held in the Laoshan/Pékin districts.
Recently re-crowned World Champion and World Cup winner Julien Absalon
will lead the men's field at the event. The Frenchman will take a preview
of the 2008 Games' course before heading to the Roc d'Azur in his homeland
where he will take part in a tandem race with his wife, as well as his
Leading the women's contingent is female mountain biking legend Gunn-Rita
Dahle Flesjå, who has spent most of 2007 on the sidelines due to illness.
"Next week we're off to Beijing to test the Olympic track and do a bit
more preparation at the pre-camp in Jixian," she said in a recent diary
entry. "We're guaranteed some exciting and instructive days there. The
first weekend in Beijing we've been invited out to a delicious dinner
together with the Merida boss in China, Simon, and some of his colleagues,
so that'll be a great evening and a happy reunion for us."
Australian cross country champion Chris Jongewaard is also looking forward
to the experience of viewing the Olympic venue. "I'm looking forward to
heading to Beijing should be a great experience just to visit and having
the chance to ride the Olympic coarse prior to the 2008 is awesome," said
Killeen plots gradual return
Liam Killeen (Specialized) makes
a good comeback
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Great Britain's Liam Killeen returned to Elite level competition at September's
Mountain Bike World Championships in Fort William, Scotland and will gradually
work his way back into form over the coming months. Killeen was struck
down for the majority of the 2007 season with a mysterious virus that
had glandular fever like symptoms, despite blood work showing he was negative
for the illness.
"I'm not going to jump back into a crazy race schedule now, with week
in week out racing now," Killeen told Britishcycling.org.uk. "Obviously
I have a bit of a plan between now to the middle of October. My focus
now is on Beijing, that goal never went out of my mind when I was off,
but if I want to get Beijing, I needed a bit of a rest the season before
and that's happened now more by accident."
The 25 year-old's career had been making excellent progress up until
this season. Killeen, from Malvern in England, has claimed the Under 23
World Cup on two occasions, won numerous rounds of the British national
series and is the current Commonwealth Games champion, having taken victory
in Melbourne last year.
"I'm looking forward to getting back into it all next year; I'm still
enjoying it," he said. It's too hard a sport if you have no enjoyment
in it. I've been lucky in my career that I've not had any illnesses or
injuries up until now, I've had a good career so far, I'm still fairly
young and I'm not planning on retiring just yet, I have a mortgage to
Killeen continued his comeback at the weekend's World Cup finale in Slovenia,
where he finished some 10 minutes behind the event's winner in 35th place.
Trek ends British NPS sponsorship
Bicycle manufacturer Trek has announced that it will not renew its sponsorship
of British Cycling's National Points XC events. "After supporting the
series for so long, it was time to pass the baton to another sponsor who
could bring new focus and energy to the events," said Trek UK's Andrew
Griffin. "It is gratifying to see the XC scene brought to such rude health
in so short a time, and whoever should take up the challenge will find
a packed start line eager to race."
The company will continue to support British Cycling's road squad and
Go Ride activities, however it will see an end to its participation in
the British Marathon Series.
"Cross country is still a large part of Trek's heritage and it is likely
that we'll have a presence at the races through a committed athlete sponsorship
program," added Griffin.
Cunningham delighted with worlds success
Great Britain's Ruaridh Cunningham is over the moon after securing the
Junior Men's Downhill World Championship at Fort William 10 days ago.
The 18 year-old, who has become Scotland's first Mountain Bike World Champion,
told Scotsman.com he can't believe it after screaming down the
track two seconds quicker than America's second place John Swanguen in
front of a home crowd.
"I think I'm dreaming," he stated. "It feels amazing to be the first
British man to win a world title - and to be Scottish and do it in Scotland
is pretty cool."
Exclusive race bits for the world's elite racers
By Luke Webber in Fort William, Scotland
This was the closest we got
Photo ©: Luke Webber
Gaaaareeee composes himself
for another round
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
Lightweight hoops in aluminum and carbon
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 full tech coverage from the Mountain Bike World Championships,
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå diary: Wonderful days gone fishing
We caught a big load of fish this weekend, and Kenneth was the clear
winner in terms of quantity. This evening, however, it's time for revenge
here on the ocean outside Stavanger. Fishing with rods from the rowing
boat has provided us with valuable time off, in between all the training.
We had a slow-paced and relaxing weekend at the family cabin in Jøsenfjorden
(Suldal) where we had plenty of time to fish. After our first training
stint on Saturday morning, Kenneth disappeared down to the sea and stayed
there for the rest of the day. I wasn't able to join him until after a
ride later in the afternoon, and by then Kenneth had managed to catch
more than 15 fish. Most of them were large, fat pollacks, but he had also
managed to catch a few mackerels and a horrific-looking wrasse.
On Sunday morning we awoke to cloudy weather, but with glimpses of blue
sky, 13 degrees and an incredible quietness. The fjord lay like a mirror,
not a breath of wind, so the only thing to do was to jump into our clothes
and get out into the boat. It's only a little rowing boat with two oars,
nothing fancy, but then and there it really felt luxurious. No racket
from cars, completely calm water, no two-legged individuals for many miles,
fresh sea air, a couple of seagulls gliding around, and wild mountains
on either side of the boat.
We caught a lot of fish. Kenneth used his fishing rod and I used another
fishing tool called a "harp". We mostly caught large and beautiful
pollacks, but also some mackerel, plus a strange little bright red fish
which seemed to be completely worn out when we got it into the boat. We
showed mercy this time and let it go again. One fish ended up as dinner
for our two flying friends in the air. A wonderful day on the sea, balsam
for body and soul.
To read the full diary by Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå, click
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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)