MTB news & racing round-up for December 21, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Fontana announces 2009 plans with Cannondale
By Kirsten Robbins
Marco Fontana (Ita)
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
Reigning Italian national cyclo-cross champion Marco Aurelio Fontana
recently signed a hefty contract with the Cannondale Mountain Bike squad.
The US-based bike manufacture presented him with the offer after he placed
fifth at the Beijing Olympic Games this past summer. After returning from
a meet and greet with his new teammates, he told Cyclingnews he
was impressed with the professionalism of the Cannondale crew.
"We just had a training camp and it was amazing," Fontana said
regarding the week-long meeting in the city of Brunico, nestled in the
Italian Dolomites. "There was a very good feeling between us guys.
We were skiing together in the mountains."
"Joining Cannondale was a big step for me. The main change is how
official the team is. I'm very happy and very concentrated on the future."
His future looks bright since he will be riding with full team support
and two professional teammates, Swiss talent Martin Gujan and Belgian
World Cup veteran Roel Paulissen. For 2009, the Cannondale Factory Racing
team is merging
with the former SoBe-Cannondale team. In the US, Gunnar Shogren and Matthew
Lee, along with several dozen more riders, will round out the roster,
racing in regional events.
Fontana, 23, spent his short but stellar mountain bike career racing
for Hard Rock, a team that groomed him into a young Olympian and World
Cup contender. "My heart will be forever Hard Rock," Fontana
said. "They were good guys, and they supported me for so many years.
They reached a point that they had to change their careers and it was
difficult for them to do everything for me. I have to say thank you to
Hard Rock because they did a good job with me and my cycling career."
Fontana's season with Cannondale will begin with the first set of Internazionali
d'Italia events in March followed by the first World Cup in South Africa
in April. "The World Cup series is my big goal because these are
very important for Cannondale," Fontana said. "The first goal
is to try to do the same as last year and be top ten in the World Cup
events. The next main goal is to do well in the World Championships."
Other races for Fontana will include the Maremma Cup, GP Inverno Es-Al,
European Championships and a few rounds of the Bundesliga series, French
Cup and Swiss series.
New Sunshine Cup course at Amathous - Agios Tychonas set
They're off for round one of the
2008 Cyprus Cup
Photo ©: Armin M. Küstenbrück
Organizers have nearly completed construction of the course for the Sunshine
Cup's new venue at Amathous-Agios Tychonas in Cyprus. Round three of the
four-race series, which annually attracts international racers looking
for a sunny and warm start to their seasons, is set for March 8.
Some changes at Yermasogia forced organizer Michalis Hadjioannou to search
for a new location. Not too far away, the Amathous area offered possibilities
for a cross country course.
"It's technical and one lap is 5.1km," said Hadjioannou. "Three
climbs add about 200m of climbing." They also offer scenic views
of the historic coastline and sea.
Until the 12th century, Amathous was the most important harbour on the
island. The area is famous for ancient buildings along the coast, the
sainthood of Aphrodite, four cathedrals and an ancient harbour beneath
For more information, visit www.mtbcyprus.com.
2009 Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2009
February 22: Tochni-Kalavasos (1) XCO
February 27 - March 1: Afxentia/Macheras Mountains (1) SR
March 8: Amathous-Agios-Tychonas (1) XCO
March 15: Voroklini (1) XCO
World Cup downhill champion takes on enduro challenge
Photo ©: Christo Meyer
After winning the 2008 World Cup Downhill overall, Greg Minnaar needed
another challenge to keep his adrenalin flowing, so he opted to enter
the arduous Roof of Africa Rally, Africa's toughest off road motorcycle
Classified as a "hard enduro" and mentioned in the same breath
as the Ertzberg Rodeo in Austria, Romaniacs in Romania, Last Man Standing
in the US, and Hell's Gate in the UK, the Roof of Africa has been hosted
by the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, a land-locked independent Kingdom
positioned in the central east of South Africa, for the last 41 years.
Originally started as a car rally, it did not take long for motorcycles
to be included in the annual dash across the Maluti Mountains, which occurs
over 3,500 meters elevation in some places. The 500km race offers fantastic
vistas, unpredictable weather patterns, rocks, goat tracks and extreme
mountain passes. The race is now a motorcycle-only rally, run over three
days, with riders spending up to 13 hours in the saddle a day.
Minnaar raced motocross with some success prior to his mountain biking
career, but he had never previously done an off road motorcycle endurance
challenge. After day one, he said, "That was far more extreme than
I expected and I'm feeling exhausted after a mere 98km!"
Two of the days had riders going over previously unridden passes like
The Keyhole, Donkey Pass, Pressure Cooker, Lucky's and Horseshit Pass.
New Zealander Chris Birch won the overall in 15 hours and 500km. Of the
287 riders that started, only 89 finished, and Minnaar was among them
in 19th place after 21 hours and 34 minutes.
"I am absolutely exhausted but ecstatic at being able to finish,"
said Minnaar. "This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.
I never thought that a motorbike could even go up some of the things that
the organisers made us ride, let alone race up there."
Milatz renews with Multivan Merida
Germany's Moritz Milatz will stay with the Multivan Merida team for 2009
after a successful season. Aiming to become the top German mountain biker,
he signed a two-year contract with the team. Moritz finished ninth at
the UCI World Championships in Italy and sixth at the final round of the
UCI World Cup in Schladming. He also took the overall victory in the German
"Moritz started racing with talent. We have been working with him
since 2004, and it was important for us that he develop slowly but sustainably,"
said team manager Andreas Rotter.
"Since he was changing from a running sport to cycling, it took
us more than a year to bring him up. His impressive results show us that
our strategy was the right one. I'm certain that Moritz will make the
podium of the world championships."
GT Bicycles unveils the Fastest Trophy
GT is looking for the fastest amateur at its new, seven-race cross country
series called the GT Golden Bike Series in 2009. At each round, the winner
will be crowned and awarded a Golden Bike, but there's a catch; the winner
must defend his title by racing it at the next event in the series - or
he forfeits the prize package worth more than US$10,000 to the second-place
"The only way to get the Golden Bike is to crush the competition,"
said Jenni Cathcart, Director of Marketing for GT Bicycles. "There's
no silver or bronze in this competition...it's all about the gold."
Each Golden Bike winner will receive an all-expense-paid trip for two
to the next race in the series, a commemorative GT Golden Bike, a $250
Sugoi gift certificate and a swag bag of cycling gear. At the race, the
Golden Bike Winner will be supported by a professional bike mechanic and
a personal cheerleading squad known as The Gold Diggers.
To defend his title, the winner will select one of two Golden race machines:
the Zaskar hardtail or the full suspension Marathon. Both models will
of course be gold-colored and feature top-of-the-line components.
If the winner secures another victory, then he is flown to the next
race in the series to defend the title again. If he loses, then the official
Golden bike, the Golden Jersey, the Gold Diggers cheerleading squad, and
the professional mechanic are awarded to the newly crowned winner.
The series is explicitly not for pros. "Any rider who gets paid
to race, got their bike from a sponsor or holds a professional cycling
license is not eligible for the Golden Bike," said a statement from
GT. Participants must also be 18 or older.
The series will kick off April 19 at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey,
California, and end in Hingham, Massachusetts, in September. A complete
2009 GT Golden Bike Series
April 19: Sea Otter Classic, Monterey, California
May 2: GHORBA Big Ring Challenge, Coldspring, Texas
May 17: Spring Thaw Mountain Bike Festival, Ashland, Oregon
June 7: Massanutten Hoo-Ha!, Harrisonburg, Virginia
July 4: Firecracker 50, Breckenridge, Colorado
August 8: Ore to Shore, Marquette, Michigan
September 13: Landmine Classic, Hingham, Massachusetts
Mountain bike museum opens in North Carolina
By Gary Boulanger, BikeRadar
The sport of mountain biking is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2009,
and leading the celebration is the Museum of Mountain Bike Art & Technology
(MOMBAT), a new museum created to preserve and chronicle the evolution
of the sport, its personalities and products, located in Statesville,
The museum's collection contains over 400 bicycles, including more than
250 mountain bikes. Displayed alongside the bicycles at MOMBAT are hundreds
of vintage parts and accessories and thousands of pieces of literature,
including period catalogs and magazines that follow the evolution of the
"With our location near the intersection of two major interstates,
the museum is convenient for anyone traveling in the area, and weve
had visitors from all around the US and overseas as well," said Jeff
Archer, the museum's curator.
Archer told BikeRadar the museum is split between two floors of
5,000 square feet each, with 14-foot ceilings.
"The online shop history tells quite a bit about how we got to where
we are now," he added.
In the mid 1970s, the mountain bike sprang to life as a grassroots effort
by a small group of riders in Marin County, California, who converted
balloon-tired cruisers into trail bikes by removing superfluous equipment
and installing knobby tires. The first purpose-built off road bikes were
made in the late 1970s when the term "Mountain Bike" was first
used to describe them, and the sport grew rapidly worldwide in the following
The original mass produced mountain bike, the Specialized Stumpjumper,
arrived in stores in 1982. An example of this model now resides in the
Smithsonian Institution, and a similar model is displayed at MOMBAT.
Technological innovation is evident in the bicycles featured at MOMBAT,
with the evolution of front and rear suspension designs, hydraulic disc
brakes and the progression from five to 27 gears over the life of the
sport. Frame materials also evolved, from basic steel tubes to wildly
shaped and extremely lightweight composites and metals. Artistic design
and construction is also found on bikes and components as some of the
best examples of bicycle fabrication are on display at the museum, including
details ranging from experimental to innovative and artful.
The museum also sponsors the Cackalacky Cup, an increasingly popular
vintage-themed mountain bike festival that takes place each summer.
MOMBAT is located within First Flight Bicycles in historic downtown Statesville,
NC. Admission is free and the museum is open to the public Monday-Friday,
10-6 and Saturday, 10-5. Visitors are welcomed and encouraged to take
their time to view the exhibits.
Those unable to visit the museum in person can view much of the collection
Luna racers to BC Bike Race
The Luna women's mountain bike team will participate in next year's BC
Bike Race scheduled for June 28-July 4. Catherine Pendrel and Katerina
Nash, both former Olympians, are slated to tackle the race together with
the goal of having fun while using the event as an important part of their
"Having these two amazing women and the Luna Pro Team here at the
BC Bike Race will hopefully inspire more women to undertake this exhilarating
challenge," said President Dean Payne. "It's hard, but fun,
and there isn't a better way out there to see this amazing countryside."
The team's motto of getting more women into sports and playing outside
dovetails into the overall vision of the BC Bike Race, a seven-day mountain
bike stage race with the goal of getting people outside for better health,
stress relief and self-actualization.
New Zealand gets stage race
New Zealand will get its first fully supported, multi-stage mountain
bike race with the Skins Alpine Epic on February 25-28 according to www.scoop.co.nz.
Racers will compete in four days over five stages and 259km with 5,250m
of climbing. The race will run in the Canterbury foothills of Mt Somers
through the Southern Alps to Lake Tekapo in Mount Cook/Mackenzie country,
primarily on private land.
Nick Ross, Angus Jennings, Katherine Jennings and Peter Savage are putting
together the event. Ross said the idea originated when they were competing
in the TransRockies in 2008.
"New Zealand has always been at the cutting edge of endurance sports
events but strangely there's no stage mountain bike racing like overseas,
and nothing fully supported," said Ross to The Scoop.
For more information, visit www.alpineepic.co.nz. Registration closes
Scottish events announced for 2009
Fort William's No Fuss Events announced its 2009 programme of Scottish
events including several cross country, downhill and endurance events.
The Benromach Three Tens Series consists of three races are run on an
endurance format with teams and individuals competing to see who can complete
the most laps in the 10 hours. Participants can compete as a solo or in
relay teams of two, three or four. This year's events include the 10 Under
the Ben in Fort William on May 30, the 10 at Kirroughtree in Newton Stewart
on July 11 and the 10 More in Moray in Fochabers on August 22.
No Fuss will also run an endurance downhill event called the Hope Endurance
Downhill in Fort William on August 1. Staged on the track at Nevis Range
near Fort William, home to the 2007 UCI World Championships, downhillers
will attempt to complete the 2.82km track as many times as possible in
Finally, on October 10-12, the Relentless 24 will offer cross country
racers the chance to go for 24 hours on the Witch's Trail and recently
constructed UCI Mountain Bike World Championships courses in Forestry
Commission Scotland's Leanachan Forest with the event being based at Nevis
Range, Fort William.
No Fuss Events for 2009
May 30: 10 Under the Ben, Fort William
July 11: 10 at Kirroughtree, Newton Stewart
August 1: The Fort William Downhill Endurance
August 22: 10 More in Moray, Fochabers
October 10-11: Relentless 24
For more information, visit www.nofussevents.co.uk
Gimondibike set for 2009
The eighth annual GimondiBike has been scheduled for Sunday, September
27, 2009 in the town of Iseo, near Brescia, Italy. The theme for the 2009
edition will be "Take your time". Registration will open officially
on March 1.
For information, visit www.gimondibike.it.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)