MTB news & racing round-up for December 18, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Fuglsang switching sides
By Luke Webber
Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Former Under 23 mountain bike World Champion Jakob Fuglsang collected
solid results in his first year as an elite racer and earned two big contract
offers for 2009. Fuglsang, one of cross country racing's biggest talents,
is swapping mud pack for a bumpy life on the road.
Miguel Martinez, Michael Rasmussen, Cadel Evans are all mountain bikers
who have made a successful transition from dirt to the road, and their
ranks will be strengthened by Jakob Fuglsang in 2009. The news that the
Dane would be joining Bjarne Riis and the new Saxo Bank Team, formerly
known as Team CSC, came as an end-of-season surprise among the usual plethora
of sponsorship swaps, but his leap is an exciting move for one of cycling's
most promising prospects.
After several years of success on the mountain bike World Cup Circuit
while riding for Cannondale-Vredestein, Fuglsang was seen as a star for
the future. His first year as an elite rider included two World Cup podium
appearances, Olympic team selection and victory alongside teammate Roel
Paulissen in the Cape Epic. His biggest win to date though came in late
2007 with the title of Under 23 World Champion in Fort William.
Upsetting race favourite Nino Schurter of Switzerland may have been a
shock for fans and pundits, but it was not such a surprise for Jakob.
Two weeks previous, both were preparing at the same race and the young
Dane saw the tide turning.
"We were doing a road race in Switzerland just before the worlds,
and I could see that I was stronger than Nino, so I knew I would have
the mental edge. Winning the worlds in 2007 was the goal for the whole
season. Becoming World Champion was my overall goal for mountain biking.
I came to the race with the mental image that I could do it."
His win did not come easily. At first, Schurter gained the advantage.
"In the beginning he rode away from me," said Fuglsang. "I
rode far too safely on the descent. I was not doing a good job there.
So I said to myself, 'Either I go 100% and take the risks or you will
have to be satisfied with second place.' So from then on, I was riding
The win set Fuglsang up as the latest hot property in cross country racing
in stark contrast to where he was two years before when he was ready to
quit mountain biking following a string of bad results. The young Dane
was looking for a way out. Fortunately no road teams were interested in
him, so he renewed his commitment to mountain biking rather than mixing
road and off-road disciplines.
This focus, along with a move from Denmark to Italy, helped Fuglsang
become a fixture in the World Cup top ten. However, though his success
was off-road, he has been training more as a road rider. "I have
been living like a road rider when it comes to training for the last few
years. Almost all my training is on the road and then I mountain bike
when I get to the race."
Read the complete
Kenda team set for 2009
Amanda Riley-Carey at Sea Otter
Photo ©: Sue George
Kenda USA renewed its title sponsorship of the US-based mountain bike
team for what will be its third year in 2009. The team will consist of
a mix of returning athletes such as Zephanie Blasi, Wendy Caldwell, Amanda
Carey, Heather Holmes, Danielle Musto and Andy Schultz and two new recruits,
Kathy Sherwin and Colin Cares. Kenda USA will focus on endurance and ultra-endurance
"This diverse group gives us the flexibility to compete in a broad
range of events from the US Cup and the NUE Series to single-day epics
like Leadville 100 and stage races like the American Mountain Bike Classic,"
said team director David Myers. Several members of the team also plan
on competing at the two World Cup races in Canada, and the team will also
make an appearance at the Kenda Fest in Hancock, Massachusetts.
Kenda USA took over sponsorship of the team from Ford Motor Company in
2007 and looks at its role as important for the continued success of the
sport in North America.
Jim Wannamaker, Kenda USA North American Marketing Director - Bicycle
Division says that continued sponsorship for the team is not only important
for Kenda, but also for the continued success of the sport in North America.
"Despite the economic downturn, we made a conscious decision to support
our flagship team of athletes who are as committed to the sport as we
are," said Jim Wannamaker, USA North American Marketing Director.
Racers will compete on Tomac Type-X carbon hard tails or Carbide full
In addition to team sponsorship, Kenda will play a major role in American
races next year with the title sponsorship of the US
Cup Series announced a few weeks ago.
2009 Kenda USA Team
Elite women: Zephanie Blasi, Amanda Carey, Heather Holmes, Danielle Musto,
Elite men: Andy Schultz, Colin Cares (U23)
Management: David Myers (Director), Ted Bentley (Mechanic and Event Manager),
Wendy Caldwell (Community Programs)
National Champ Jongewaard outclasses Olympians
By Sharon Payne
Even winner Chris Jongewaard found
Chris Jongewaard and Katherine O'Shea won the third round of the National Mountain
Bike Series cross country in Geelong last weekend. Racers were surprised
to find themselves racing in the rain at a venue that tends to be dry. Conditions
were severe enough that the super D was cancelled.
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
In the men's cross country, Jongewaard led from the first of five laps
and won in an overall time of two hours, nine minutes and 17 seconds.
A top class field was assembled, akin to a national championship. The
field included three Olympians: Beijing's Dan McConnell and Athens' Sid
Taberlay and Josh Flemming.
Jongewaard surprised himself after recently returning from a five-week
layoff. "I just went out and wanted to have a good workout. I did fade
in last three laps," said Jongewaard, who added that the granite tracks
at the You Yang's Regional Park held up surprisingly well despite the
"It was horrendous conditions, but it's probably the track I would rather
ride in the wet," Jongewaard said. "The conditions didn't affect the race
Aiden Lefmann and Under 23 rider Nathan Haas completed the top three,
but after his win Jongewaard takes over the overall series lead.
Katherine O'Shea celebrates her
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
In the women's cross country race, 29-year-old O'Shea said she'd only
ridden there twice in the wet, despite the course being located close
to home. She went out strong in the first of four laps. "I actually didn't
think people would let me go. I got a decent lead and just tried to maintain
it after that. It was hard out here but hard for everyone."
Covered in head to toe with mud, she was clearly delighted by her win.
"It's quite cold now," she said after winning. "A shower would
be great!" she admitted.
Jodie Willett finished in second, one minute behind O'Shea and ahead
of Jo Wall in third. Will keeps her series lead by just two points.
Amiel Cavalier and Claire Whiteman won the elite men's and women's downhill
The next round, number four, of the Australian Mountain Bike National
Series will be held at the end of January in Mt. Buller.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the round two cross
and short track
at the Australian Mountain National Series.
Mazda bids farewell
Following a successful seven-year partnership, Mazda reluctantly ended
its sponsorship of South Africa's National Mountain Bike Series, with
2008 being its final year as title sponsor.
In 2001, Mazda saw potential in the mountain biking market for its selling
its all-terrain vehicle brand, so it threw its support behind the Mazda
Drifter Series, which created a series out of six premier marathon-distance
races at the time. The company also became the first major corporate brand
to associate with mountain biking in South Africa, which at the time operated
in a fragmented state in the shadow of road racing.
The Mazda National Series, as it became known, grew each year in numbers
and in profile. In 2008, almost 8,000 mountain bikers participated in
the 17 Mazda-sponsored National Series events throughout the country.
More recently, the National Cup Series for cross-country and downhill
mountain bike racing was also included in the Mazda sponsorship portfolio.
In 2008, Mazda's mountain biking properties comprised the seven-event
National Marathon Series, the five-event National Cross Country Cup and
the five-event National Downhill Cup, including the South African championships
for each of the three disciplines. The sponsorship totaled 17 events.
"Mazda has been a very loyal sponsor and we're so grateful for its
support over the past seven years," said Fritz Pienaar, former multiple
national champion and now National Series Director. "Unfortunately,
with the economic pressures facing the motor trade internationally, uncertainty
prevails and much as the marketing people at Mazda wanted to continue
to support South African mountain biking in the long term, they were restricted
to a short-term budget.
"On behalf of thousands and thousands of South African mountain
bikers, I'd like to thank Mazda for believing in our sport and for its
support in taking mountain biking to the strong position it holds today,"
said Pienaar, who confirmed that a replacement sponsor has been secured
and will be announced soon.
Rennie says goodbye to Santa Cruz Syndicate after five years
Nathan Rennie (Aus)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
After five years, downhiller Nathan Rennie is departing the Santa Cruz
Syndicate for a yet-to-be-announced squad. During his time with the team,
he climbed the podium 40 times, was twice crowned Australian National
Champion and earned a bronze medal at the 2006 UCI World Championships.
He also helped the team to a World Cup overall championship in 2008.
"I just want to thank everyone involved with the Santa Cruz Syndicate...
. All I can say is that I'm a little lost for words. For some time now
I have needed some change in my life, on and off the bike. I feel a change
for me is for the best in all aspects. I am looking forward to getting
back to my best and having the right outlook to better myself, and the
new people around me," said Rennie of his departure.
"I have so many people to thank so of course. In true Rennie fashion,
I would like to thank the gift that we can all agree on which is the creation
of the 'wheel'. The wheel and I have a love hate relationship, but it
always seems to keep turning."
"His big presence and sense of humor will be sorely missed as well
as his powerhouse performances on the racetrack. We wish him well on his
new team and will continue to be proud of him and his efforts," said
the Syndicate's Kathy Sessler.
"He always has the best stories and is always good fun to hang
out with. I can't wait until 'Renoir's Memoirs' hits the newsstands. He
is an asset to any bike company and a great friend to me," said teammate
New bicycle festival to accompany World Mountain Bike Conference
The Original Bicycle Festival will be held in Dumfries & Galloway
from May 2 to 24, 2009. The new festival will complement the World Mountain
Bike Conference on Sustainability that is being staged in Dumfries from
May 12 to 15. It will celebrate the mountain bike and road cycling trails
and rich cycling heritage of the south west of Scotland.
The sixteen-day Festival will promote access and participation in cycling
in the region through a varied programme of open mountain bike and road
cycling events, guided rides and coaching sessions, youth and women's
activities, a cycle expo, a film festival and music.
The festival will cater to both residents and visitors alike; people
of all ages from families with children to youth groups and "weekend
warriors" to cycling commuters, the over 50s and those new to the
sport but keen to have a go.
Venues will include the 7stanes mountain bike trail centres, Drumlanrig
Castle, DG One in Dumfries - the Council's showcase Regional Leisure Complex,
the Easterbrook Hall and Dumfries town centre.
Dumfries and Galloway are proud of their cycling heritage. Kirkpatrick
'Pate' Macmillan invented the first pedal bicycle in the 19th century
and the area now hosts a stage of the annual Tour of Britain.
A full programme will be announced in February.
Giant Italia looking to 2009
The Giant Italia team is readying for the 2009 season, which it will
kick off with the fourth edition of the Muretto di Alassio Marathon in
Italy in March. The team recently renewed its partnership with Giant Italia
srl, the company which distributes Giant bikes in Italy.
Although full details of the team's roster and management for next season
have not yet been released, the squad hopes to build on its results from
last year which included second place at the Roc d'Azur, third at the
Schladming round of the UCI Cross Country World Cup and two of its members
being selected to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
International events on the 2009 calendar include the World Cup and rounds
of the Swiss, Italian, German and French national series. Many of the
team's riders will be aiming to represent their nations at the World and
"We have worked hard in the last few weeks to prepare a strong team,"
said Technical Manager Gianfranco Bechis. "Soon we will release more
news about the team.
Vuelta a Ecuador
Ecuador's Vuelta al Cotopaxi was held on November 29 to 30 this year.
The two-day stage race drew 400 local and international racers to compete
around the Cotopaxi Volcano, the world's highest active volcano at 5,890m.
Teams of two competed in men's, women's, mixed, masters and super masters
Martin Saenz & Alexandra Serrano (Cikla - Birm) won the mixed pair category
ahead of Angelica Ramirez & Ruben Garrido (Cikla - Specialized) and Rebecca
Rusch & Greg Martin (Specialized - Redbull). Rusch, the 24 Hours of
Adrenalin World Champion, made the trip south from the US to compete with
her partner Martin.
"The entire race took place above 10,000 feet and topped out at
around 14,000 feet," said Rusch in an emailed account of her race.
"The air was extremely thin, the high mountain weather changed from
intense sun to freezing rain in minutes and the course was some of the
most beautiful scenery I have ever seen."
Galo Tamayo & Edwin Arroyo (Specialized - Bike Shop) won the men's overall
pairing while Daniela Costa Tobar & Daniela Endara Gómez (Danielas) won
the women's overall.
See Cyclingnews' full results from the Vuelta
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(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)