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MTB news & racing round-up for December 11, 2008

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

Seven events comprise new US professional cross country series

By Sue George

Ryan Trebon the men's pack at Sea Otter
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)
USA Cycling announced Wednesday the creation of a new national cross country series for professionals racing in the US. The USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour presented by Sho-Air (ProXCT) will consist of seven UCI-sanctioned events throughout the US in 2009.

It replaces the now-defunct National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS), which wrapped up at the end of the 2008 season. The series is comprised of three east coast and three west coast races and a final in Las Vegas, Nevada, held one day after the annual Interbike Expo trade show. Unlike the NMBS races, which shared a common organizer, the ProXCT is a coalition of independent races linked together into a national series. All but one of the races are also part of the US Cup Kenda East or Kenda West series.

The series will open with the Fontana round of the US Cup in California, on March 29, then continue with the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey on April 19. The Bump N'Grind in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 31 will mark the third stop before Colorado Springs, Colorado, hosts the fourth round on June 13 with the Sand Creek International Classic. Mount Snow Resort in West Dover, Vermont, welcomes round five on August 8, and along with the Yankee Clipper at Windham Mountain in New York on August 15 will provide back-to-back East Coast stops.

Series ranking points will be awarded to top finishers at each round, with individual and team series leaders tallied. In addition, competitors will also have the opportunity to accumulate international ranking points since all seven races are inscripted on the UCI calendar.

Sho-Air International, an airfreight forwarder and tradeshow transportation expert, is the presenting sponsor of the ProXCT. The company also sponsors a racing team including riders like Sid Taberlay and Manny Prado. CEO Scott Tedro, who will serve as the US Cup Series president sees his investment as an effective marketing venture for Sho-Air.

"I'm lucky and excited to have been chosen to champion the ProXCT and honored to work with USA Cycling as a supporter of mountain bike racing in America," said Tedro. "The leadership that USA Cycling has demonstrated throughout the process in order to fuel excitement about pro cross country racing has been integral in developing a model which I believe represents an intelligent business decision. I'm hoping that the momentum we're creating encourages additional non-industry dollars to follow. USA Cycling has been a great partner in this endeavor and I'm looking forward to making the pro tour something to be proud of."

"The new ProXCT represents a tremendous step forward for professional mountain bike racing in the US," said Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling. "I am very excited by the strong support of our presenting sponsor, Sho-Air, and the fact that we have seven great venues in the inaugural year of the tour."

Objectives of the inaugural tour include providing a sequence of international-caliber events for elite cross country racers, recognizing the best cross country teams and athletes competing on American soil, spotlighting America's top races that have made a commitment to host UCI-sanctioned events, and racing the level of competitive mountain bike racing in the US.

"After nearly a year of discussion and negotiations amongst our many mountain bike constituents and soliciting input from race promoters, athletes and industry representatives, we're thankful that Sho-Air and various venues has stepped up to support pro cross country racing in the United States," said USA Cycling's Mountain Bike Events and Program Director Kelli Lusk. "This series ensures that our pros will have a major season-long circuit which doubles as a dedicated and focused platform on which to showcase their talents."

With the inscription of seven UCI events, along with the 2009 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships, elite competitors will have eight opportunities to score UCI points at domestic races next season – one more compared to 2008. The points are important in qualifying athletes for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

"Now that a nation's qualification for the Olympic Games is based on a four-year cycle, it's even more important we have UCI races in the US this far in advance of London," said USA Cycling's National Mountain Bike Development Director Marc Gullickson. "The ProXCT not only creates opportunity for our athletes here at home, but the consistent exposure to a highly competitive environment will raise the level of everyone's game."

Initial reactions of pro racers were positive. "That's really good news," said Lea Davison.

"With the US Cup, it seems like US mountain bike racing is alive and well," said Jeremiah Bishop.

An announcement for a gravity-based tour is expected in the coming weeks.

2009 USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Mountain Bike Tour (ProXCT)
March 29: U.S. Cup – Fontana, California
April 19: Sea Otter Classic – Monterey, California
May 31: Bump N'Grind – Birmingham, Alabama
June 13: Carmichael Training Systems Sand Creek International Classic – Colorado Springs, Colorado
August 8: U.S. Cup – Mount Snow, West Dover, Vermont
August 15: Yankee Clipper at Windham Mountain, Windham, New York
September 26: USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Mountain Bike Tour Finals, Las Vegas, Nevada

Hermida renews with Multivan Merida

Spain's José Hermida has extended his contract with the Multivan Merida Biking Team for another two years.

Hermida, who focuses on Olympic-distance cross country racing, has won just about every title in his discipline except the elusive world championship and the overall world cup titles. He is hoping to change this in 2009.

Hermida has riding for the Multivan Merida team for five years and plays an important role in product engineering and development. Together with Ralph Näf, Hermida was involved in developing the award winning Ninety-Six cross country bike, one of the lightest und most succesful full suspension bikes on the market and the bike raced by Hermida and other team members at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

Norco Factory Team rides into 2009

Fionn Griffiths
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
(Click for larger image)

The Norco Factory team will continue for 2008 with its 2008 riders plus a few additions.

Trials rider Ryan Leech; slopestylers Jay Hoots, Ben Boyko and Darcy Turenne; 4X and downhiller Fionn Griffiths; and jumpers Mislav Mironovic and Dylan Korba will return to the squad.

New to the team for 2009 are downhill and 4X riders Nick Geddes of Vancouver and Hans Lambert. Finally, the team will boast a new cross country division based in Eastern Canada and including Andrew Watson and Catherine Vipond.

Torq team diary: Launched into action

By Tory Thomas & Jo Wall

The team poses at a photo shoot
Photo ©: Adam MacLeod / Freewheel
(Click for larger image)

It's hard to believe it's already December. It's well and truly race season in Australia, with weekdays and weekends crammed full of riding, travel and racing. Life in the Torq team is very full - in the month since our last diary entry, we've had our team launch, competed in a few road and local mountain bike events, and last weekend we participated in the second round of the National Cross Country mountain bike series in Illinbah, Queensland.

Being part of the team is proving to be an enriching experience. I'm not sure yet of my "role" in the team - sometimes I feel like a mother hen (nagging the boys about wearing sunscreen and staying hydrated...!), and other times I feel a sense of sheer relief that I have my team to help me - I can ask teammate Robbie Hucker to help take my pedals off my bike and cry on Assistant Team Manager's Dean's shoulder at the end of a disappointing day.

Also, it's difficult to take yourself too seriously when there are so many personalities crammed in to the one team - one minute I'm crying, and the next minute I'm laughing.

Read the complete diary entry.

RockShox SID Team: Not just for racing anymore

By James Huang, Technical Editor

The new RockShox SID Team
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

The RockShox SID has been the most successful fork on the World Cup cross-country circuit in history but it was long overdue for a major overhaul. The new version is vastly improved in every way but one – SID isn't just a racer's fork anymore.

The venerable RockShox SID platform was many things to many people but two things had always remained constant: it was one of the lightest forks available but also among the flexiest and most unpredictable in technical terrain. Thankfully, this latest iteration firmly puts that old reputation to bed with a new trail bike-stout chassis, competitively light weight and highly tunable and effective internals that should not only keep it at or near the top of racers' wish lists, but also make it a viable short-travel all-purpose trail fork, too.

Weight is kept in check with shorter stanchions and internal shaft lengths which also decreases oil volume. Though RockShox had originally hoped to roughly match the old SID on the scale as a result, our numbers suggest that it fell well shy. A previous generation SID World Cup was just 1375g (3.03lb) with a Pushloc remote and uncut carbon steerer; our comparably equipped 2008 SID Team tester is markedly heavier – though still lightweight – at 1585g (3.49lb).

Read the complete review of the RockShox SID Team and the Monarch.

Midwest Fat Tire Championship Series set for 2009

The Midwest Fat Tire Championship Series announced an expanded schedule for 2009, a result of merging with the St. Louis series to bring a true state-wide series to Missouri. Two endurance events will be included with the normal cross country races: the Tall Oak Challenge six hour race in Jefferson City and the Berryman Epic, a 60 mile race covering the Berryman and Ozark Trail in southeast Missouri.

2009 Midwest Fat Tire Championship Series
March 8 – Series Race #1 - Oz Epic, Lake of the Ozarks State Park, Kaiser, Missouri
March 22 - Series Race #2 - Lost Valley, St. Charles, Missouri
March 29 - Series Race #3 - Rim Wrecker, Council Bluff Lake Recreation Area, Potosi, Missouri
April 19 - Series Race #4 - Le Tour de Tick, Neosho, Missouri
May 9 - Series Race #5 - Castlewood Challenge, Castlewood State Park, St. Louis, Missouri
June 7 - Series Race #6/State Championship - Rhett's Run, Cosmo Park, Columbia, Missouri
June 21 - Series Race #7 - St. Joes State Park, Farmington, Missouri
July 12 - Series Race #8 - OMBA Caramba, Sac River Trails, Springfield, Missouri
July 26 - Series Race #9 - Show-Me State Games, Rock Bridge State Park, Columbia, Missouri
August 9 - Series Race #10 - Spanish Lake, Spanish Lake, Missouri
August 23 - Series Race #11 - Cape Race, Cape Girardeau, Missouri
September 5 - Series Lake 6-Hour, Jefferson City, Missouri
September 12 - Series Race #12 - Castlewood ICCC, Castlewood State Park, St. Louis, Missouri
September 27 - Series Race #13 - Greensfelder, Eureka, Missouri
October 24/25 - Berryman Epic Tour/Race, Steelville, Missouri

For more information, visit www.midwestfattireseries.com.

Breck Epic registration opens

Registration for Colorado's newest mountain bike stage race opened last week. With a US$250 deposit, racers may sign up on Sportsbaseonline.com for one of 400 spots in the six-day Breck Epic from July 5-10, 2009. The deposit is fully refundable until pricing is finalized on January 3.

Assuming there are at least five entrants in each, categories will be Open Men Duo, Open Women Duo, Open Mixed Duo, 80+ Duo, 100+ Duo, Singlespeed Duo, Solo Men Open, Solo Women Open, Singlespeed Open and Solo Men 40+.

Open MTB Gran Canaria registration open

Registration is open for the fifth Open MTB Gran Canaria on March 13-14 in Las Palmas. In 2009 the sunny, island marathon will offer more route choices and will serve as the opener to the Austrian Trek Mountain Bike Challenge.

Already signed up are Andy Strobel (Vaude Simplon), winner of the Ritchey series and Michael Kalivoda (Ghost) in the men's category and Kerstin Brachtendorf (Fiat Rotwild) in the women's category. Together with top riders from Italy, the Netherlands and Austria they will fight for victory on the Ronda Extrema.

Last year, racer participation doubled and this year racers may select to compete over 38, 65 or 85km.

For more information, visit www.canary-bike.com.

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