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MTB news & racing round-up for September 28, 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

Sauser surmises successful season

By Greg Johnson

Sauser was happy with the win.
Photo ©: PixStream
(Click for larger image)

At 31 years of age Christoph Sauser is no new player in the mountain biking game, yet his hunger for victory mirrors that displayed when he claimed his first Junior Downhill Swiss Championship in 1993 ­ the same year he won the Junior Downhill World Championship. In the 14 years that have passed Sauser has swapped disciplines and found success in both the cross country and marathon fields ­ success that continued throughout 2007 and he hopes will see him return to the Olympic podium in August 2008.

Sauser only claimed a few victories during the 2007 season, but he ensured those that he did take were big wins. In fact, despite finishing on the podium in both cross country World Cups in Houffalize, Belgium and Champéry, Switzerland, Sauser's first major victory of the year didn't come until eight months into the season when he claimed the Marathon World Championship in Belgium. "All in all I am happy, yes," Sauser said of how the year unfolded. "Being Marathon World Champ feels great and it was my second biggest goal of the season - after the Cross Country World Championships. Unfortunately, like past World Championships bad luck hit me there again. But with one title in the pocket it helped to get over that disappointment."

The Marathon World Championship was a feather missing from Sauser's cap, with the Specialized rider having already claimed the Cross Country World Cup in 2004 and then again in 2005, won six Swiss championships, an Under 23 European Championship and taken bronze at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. "That finally everything came together on a big day was great," reflected Sauser of his marathon victory. "Too many times I had to leave a venue with the famous 'if, when and what'.

Sauser looked strong all day to eventually win.
Photo ©: PixStream
(Click for larger image)

"It was such a great moment going to the podium, seeing the jersey on a nice pillow in the podium girl's arms and finally it is mine ­ and the team's too," he added. "They were so excited and had huge smiles on their faces. With that title I could give a lot back for what they've done for me. To me it felt also like big "pay check" for all the sweat I am investing in the sport. In such a moment everything is worthwhile!"

A few short weeks later Sauser returned home to Switzerland and mirrored the victory with another at IXS Nationalpark Bike Marathon. It was another mirror of events from earlier in the season that hampered Sauser's attempt at adding another feather to his cap ­ the Cross Country World Champion crown. The title that has escaped his highly decorated palmares was again put out of reach when his shoe binding system broke, similar to the mechanical that saw him pull out of Berner Rundfahrt in May. Showing his fighting spirit Sauser returned to the field in 20th place at the World Championships in Fort William, Scotland and stormed up the order to claim sixth overall. "Since I have been third and second already two times, only the win counted for me," said Sauser. "My shape was peaking and I had a really good preparation, but it looks like I can only be lucky one time a year. It is very hard when you get hit out of the whole race action because of a mechanical.

"After a race like this I can motivate myself again when thinking of the next race and doing well again there," he added. "And as already mentioned before, the marathon title helped a lot too, to get rid of the disappointment."

Of course, there's one other obstacle that Sauser will need to overcome if he's to add the World Champion crown to his list of accomplishments ­ a certain Frenchman by the name of Julien Absalon. The 27 year-old French Cross Country Champion has enjoyed another superb season, stamping his name on nearly every event he's contested ­ including the World Championship and World Cup crowns. Despite being fierce rivals on the course, Sauser is complementary of the Frenchman's talent. "If you win so many races it is not luck," admitted Sauser. "He is not that much stronger then everybody else, but has the 'spark' more to win. He really makes use of any chance - even if it's small - in a race and is not afraid to attack early and suffer hard."

To read the complete feature, click here.

Guatemala gets new race

Guatemala will host a new three-day stage race called El Reto del Quetzal from October 5 to 7 for teams of two in open men, open women, mixed, and masters categories. It will start in San Juan Sacatepequez and finish three days later in Coban while passing through semi-desert areas, tropical rain forests, and through the clouds and dense fog of Coban.

Trek VW's Sue Haywood, who was on the women's winning team at the TransRockies, and Lea Davison are favorites set to compete in the women's race. Tinker Juarez (Cannondale) and 2006 Pan Am Champion Deiber Esquivel are among those that will contest the men's race.

UCI awards 2010 marathon worlds to Germany

The Management Committee of the UCI met on Tuesday in Stuttgart, Germany, where the Road World Championships are being held and announced the location for the 2010 Marathon World Championships. They will be in Saint - Wendel, Germany. This is also where the European marathon championships will be held this weekend.

At the same meeting, the committee awarded the Mountain Bike World Championships for cross country, gravity, and trials events to Mont Sainte-Anne in Canada.

Bettin to lead toughest-ever Crocodile Trophy field

Christophe Heinix crosses a creek at the 2006 race
Photo ©: John Flynn
Click for larger image

With one month to go until the Crocodile Trophy stage race in Australia, Italy's Mauro Bettin, former UCI World Cup marathon champion, confirmed his attendance. He hopes to lay his "crocodile curse" to rest. A two-time protagonist in Australia's greatest endurance cycling event, Bettin will be hoping this, the 13th staging of the Outback classic, will bring the luck which has so far deserted him, as he attempts to lead the Felt Dream Team to victory.

Bettin will face the strongest field in the event's history. However, he'll have the support of Luxembourg's Benoit Joachim (Astana), the vastly experienced European Max Becker and hard as nails Australian domestique Darren O'Grady (a 2006 stage winner).

Joachim, who sports an impressive resume including multiple Luxembourg national championships, along with the honour of riding for Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France during his former years at US Postal, could yet be the Dream Team trump card. "Joachim brings brute strength to the Felt Dream Team and you need that in this race, especially on the longer flat stages," said Team Manager Christi Valentine.

Thirteen nations are represented on the eighty-strong start list. Last year's stage winners Attila Marton (Hungary), Stefan Rucker (Austria) and Michael Borup (Denmark) will be back in the hunt for overall honours along with Czech marathon specialists Andrej Fojtik and Radoslav (Radik).

The Crocodile Trophy begins October 23 and runs through November 1. Christoph Stevens won the 2006 edition.

BC Bike Race 2008 registration opens

The leaders before the start of the stage
Photo ©: BC bike race
(Click for larger image)

BC Bike Race announced the opening of registration for its 2008 event on its website. In its second year, the BC Bike Race will run from June 28 to July 4, 2008 and will see up to 400 riders, in teams of two and four, challenge the seven stages from Victoria to Whistler, British Columbia. Organizers have also said they will increase the amount of singletrack for next year.

The 2008 stages are listed below.

Stage 1: Shawnigan Lake - Lake Cowichan, 90 km
Stage 2: Lake Cowichan - Port Alberni, 110 km
Stage 3: Port Alberni - Cumberland, 80 km
Stage 4: Cumberland - Sechelt, 60 km
Stage 5: Sechelt - Squamish, 58 km
Stage 6: Squamish - Whistler, 7 km
Stage 7: Whistler, 25 km

The 2007 edition was won by Trek / VW's Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk. For more info, visit www.bcbikerace.com.

Trail Care Crew seeks new team

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) announced it is hiring a full-time, professional two-person team for its Trail Care Crew program. For more than 10 years, the crews have traveled all 50 US states, Canada, Mexico, and several European countries, sharing trailbuilding expertise with volunteers, land managers and trail advocates.

This position requires a passion for mountain biking, excellent communication and volunteer organizational skills, basic knowledge of trailwork, and team compatibility for a two-year commitment. For details, visit www.imba.com. Send cover letters and resumes by October 12 to Spencer Powlison at spencer@imba.com or to IMBA, P.O. Box 711, Boulder, CO 80306.

Barb Howe diary: Back to the 'burgh

Barb enjoying the natural
Photo ©: Barb Howe
(Click for larger image)
Soaking wet and still breathing hard from the short track, my father and I packed up the van and headed north to Pittsburgh. I was very excited to hang with my family for a week in the summer when we could do outdoor things in relative comfort. The drive through northwestern North Carolina on small roads was stunning, I had no idea it was so beautiful there. We made decent time on the interstate, stayed at a hotel somewhere in West Virginia and rolled into Pittsburgh just in time for lunch.

We surprised my sister with lunch and I got my first chance to hang out with my nephew in several months. This is all very exciting to me because my sister is the first one in the family to have a child. Colby, my nephew, was just figuring out how to walk and providing endless entertainment. The family had planned a full week for me involving various activities, meals, gatherings, shopping trips, etc. I had a few of my own activities to add to the agenda, including a group mountain bike ride and an Xterra.

Tuesday evening, after the day's activities--mostly involving quality time with my Mother and Colby while my sister was at work--my brother and I headed to Riverview Park on the north side of Pittsburgh for a P.O.R.C. ride. We met up with the ride leader Adam, my brother's friend, Pete, and a guy named Mark. We rode for close to thirteen miles, mostly on single track weaving round and round up and down a rather small city park. Good fun all around, I was the only one whose clothes matched their bike. Afterwards we sat on the porch, drank Yuengling beers and ate square pizza. I'm not a huge fan of the square pizza, it not only brings back memories of grade school cafeteria pizza but the corner slices are substandard. You get stuck with mostly crust and not as much good stuff.

To read the complete diary entry, including Howe's latest recipe, click here.

Keith Bontrager diary: The first (and only!) six hours

I took two quarts of fluids with me on the first lap. Based on the pre-ride measurements, that would keep me close to hydrated. I also stayed topped up well the night before (not with beer) and drank a quart of Gatorade 20 minutes before the race started. I felt slightly full, a feeling that I don't like, but have come to expect before a long race.

The 1st lap went to plan. My pace was a little too high on a few occasions when I was trying to stay out of other rider's way on singletrack. They started the teams 5 minutes behind us and they caught me on the first singletrack section. After the first lap things strung out and it was easier to work out traffic issues. I finished it at 1:30 - I was on schedule.

But the plan was wobbling a bit. I lost my water bottle in some bumps early on the course so I didn't have the proper quantity of fluids. My Camelback was still there though and supplementing from water and Gatorade that was being handed up at two stations along the route offset the lost bottle a little. I didn't make up the entire bottle's worth. I also didn't weigh myself at the end of the lap because I felt OK, hot but not bad.

I increased the fluids for the second lap to make up for the lost bottle and I drank most of an extra bottle on the short paved section around the pits that I tossed back to Ray before heading out on the course. Having that bottle temporarily along with a cool towel on the back of my neck was in the plan for the first 6 hours. I had to drink it on a schedule and I didn't have to carry it up the hills.

About a mile into the second lap I started cramping. I'd actually picked the spot I thought I would cramp the lap before accurately. It wasn't intentional; the thought just came to me as I rode through the section. I didn't think it would happen on the second lap though. I was drinking so much I was feeling very bloated and burping Gatorade back up.

To read the complete diary entry, click here.

Gimondibike set for weekend

The starting line at the sixth edition of the Gimondibike in Iseo, Italy, on Sunday, September 30 will be crowded with champions. Swede Fredrik Kessiakoff (Cannondael-Vredestein), winner of the World Cup final race in Maribor, Slovenia will be among those at the start along with Frenchman Thomas Dietsch and his countryman Stephan Tempier. Swede Emil Lindgren (Gewiss-Bianchi), Italian Gilberto Simoni, winner of the 2005 edition Marzio Deho, Yader Zoli (KTM International) and current Italian cross country champion Martino Fruet will also be there.

Top marathoner Pia Sundstedt (Gewiss Bianchi) and Annabella Stropparo, Blaza Klemencic (Pintatim Full Dynamix), Anna Gaddoni and Nina Homovec will be on the women's start line. More than 2,450 other cyclists, a record-breaking attendance, will join the top riders for the day.

7th edition of Festibike to Spain

Spanish and international riders will gather September 28 to 30 in the town of Tres Cantos, near Madrid, for Spain's biggest bike festival, known as Festibike. Besides an expo showing next year's new gear, the festival will host activities for all ages including a new freeride competition and a 20km women's-only ride with superstar Marga Fullana. There will also be BMX, dirt jump, freeride, 4X and trials races, a marathon and guided rides through the mountains surrounding Madrid. For more information, visit www.festibike.com.

British NPS Downhill 2008 dates set

Great Britain announced its Downhill National Points Series schedule for 2008. Races will be held on April 20, May 25, July 6, August 10, and September 21, 2008. The three middle rounds will also feature UCI points.Venues are still to be confirmed, but for further information, visit www.NPSDH.com

WVMBA race to benefit injured Riddle

West Virginia will host a race in Bruceton Mills on October 7 to benefit local pro/expert racer Joey Riddle, who sustained multiple injuries in a recent crash at the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA) series championships earlier this month. Riddle suffered two broken wrists, a broken collarbone, a separated shoulder, and a concussion and is temporarily unable to work.

The race will be held in conjunction with West Virginia University's collegiate mountain bike race and a raffle of a 29er Cannondale singlespeed frame and a Vicious Cycles hardtail frame (singlespeed or geared). For more information, visit www.wvmba.com.

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