MTB news & racing round-up for December 24, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
UCI gives thumbs-up for Pietermaritzburg
The highest section of the cross
country World Cup course in Pietermartizburg
Photo ©: Gary Perkin
The Pietermartizburg, South Africa, round of the 2009 Nissan UCI World
Cup received praise from UCI officials. The opening mountain bike series
round is set for Easter Weekend on April 10-12. Event Director Alec Lenferna
presented the South African event at the official World Cup organisers'
seminar staged at the UCI offices in Aigle, Switzerland, on December 10-11
and was commended on the significant work already completed on the race
routes and competition arena.
The South African World Cup will be a triple, with cross country, downhill
and 4X events on the forested slopes on the northwest of Pietermaritzburg,
adjacent to the Cascades Centre Shopping Mall.
"Due to the fact that the Pietermaritzburg leg of the series is
the opening event, the majority of the international teams and national
federation teams are expected to attend," said Lenferna. "Many
of the teams have already made enquiries as to whether they will be able
to come to the region earlier and train in the warmth of the South African
sun in the weeks leading up to the event."
This will also boost the fourth round of the MTN South African National
Cup Series that will be staged at the same venue the weekend prior to
the UCI MTB World Cup event, giving local riders a chance to compete against
some of the world's best.
"At this point in time, the major interest is in the cross country
and downhill disciplines, but the newly-built 4X course, which is the
longest and steepest on the competition calendar, is eliciting a high
level of curiosity too," said Lenferna.
4X racing is a new discipline for South Africa but because it a spectator-friendly
event, is expected to be one of the highlights of the weekend. Pietermaritzburg
will also inaugurate a new category, introduced by the UCI for 2009, the
Junior World Cup Series, which will offer riders aged 17-18 a premier
international racing series for the first time.
Riding the course Stewart
Photo ©: Gary Perkin
Junior men and women selected by their national federation will be eligible
to compete in this category in an effort to prepare young stars for the
rigors of professional racing when they leave the junior ranks. Each national
federation may enter one junior male and one junior female per World Cup
event, although the host nation may enter two males and two females, giving
MTB South Africa a new opportunity to showcase its junior talent.
Lenferna and his team have already reached an advanced stage of preparation
for the event, which is expected to attract more than 1,000 riders, team
support staff, sponsors, officials and media from around the world.
"The level of support we are receiving from the City of Pietermaritzburg
is exemplary and this is evident in the fact that the City has made a
prime piece of real estate available to us to develop, which is part of
the Legacy Project rollout that is attached to each of our events,"
"Before and after the UCI World Cup event, the competition courses
and facilities will be available for national and regional mountain bike
clinics and races throughout the year, which helps to assist in further
developing the sport as well as Pietermaritzburg as the African hub of
the sport. Local and international visitors to the area can also ride
the courses, the only UCI mountain bike World Cup-graded courses in Africa.
There are not many places in the world this kind of public access exists,"
Lenferna and his company, Treble Entertainment, staged the 62-nation
2007 UCI B Road World Championships and the 58-nation 2008 UCI Junior
Road World Championships, both in Cape Town, South Africa.
"Africa is becoming more and more important as a new market for
the UCI in its drive to fully globalise the sport and to this end, the
UCI is very keen that we succeed in staging a very good event in April
2009. I've always believed that in Africa in general and in South Africa
in particular, we have some excellent event organisers and we don't need
to stand back for anyone. I'm confident that we will show the rest of
the world a thing or two in 2009 and beyond," said Lenferna.
Alvarez Gutierrez signs extended contract with Giant Italia
Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez made the
podium in Schladming, Austria.
Photo ©: Luke Weber
With an eye toward the Olympic Games in London, England, Ivan Alvarez
Gutierrez signed a four-year contract with the Giant Italia team. His
contract comes with an option for the 2013 season, too.
"I'm very happy about this contract and my results from the entire
year. In 2008, sometimes I had bad luck, like in Madrid. But this year,
I will be ready in every race on my calendar."
Alvarez Gutierrez, who was born in Talavera de la Reina, had some good
results in 2008. He finished third in the final round of the UCI cross
country World Cup in Schladming, Austria, behind World Champion Christoph
Sauser and Jose Antonio Hermida. He also finished second at the Roc d'Azur.
"The renewal of the contract is another element of the ambitious
Giant Italia Team's project," said Team Manager Gianfranco Bechis,
who added that his riders are targeting a win in a World Cup in 2009.
Alvarez Gutierrez and his team will take part in a training came in Sicily
from February 5 to 23. His first race will be the fourth edition of the
Granfondo del Muretto di Alassio.
Vallnord World Cup makes course modifications
Sabrina Jonnier at the Vallnord,
Andorra World Cup
Photo ©: Luke Webber
The UCI World Cup will return to Vallnord, Andorra, in 2009 for a gravity-only
round on May 16-17. Organizers will keep the same downhill and 4X circuits
as last year, but are making some modifications to the courses according
to the recommendations of the technical delegates of the UCI and the participants
themselves. The goal is to improve access, and create more space for better
visibility of the progress of both events.
The first part of the four cross will stay the same, but the second part
will see several changes. Three jumps were re-worked as was a plateau
followed by a step up and a triple. The final section, still to be completed,
will consist of a stem-shaped oblique, followed by an elevated left and
a step up to the finish line.
A tree was cleared from the lower portion of the downhill course to increase
spectators' visibility. In addition some lines were changed to add more
options for the expected 300 competitors.
Much of the work was completed at the end of the season, before the snow
began to fall. The snow pack is expected to help consolidate the recent
For more information on the Vallnord venue, visit www.vallnordbikeparkworldcup.com.
Pendrel named Canadian Cyclist of the Year
Catherine Pendrel (Luna Women's
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
Catharine Pendrel of Kamloops, British Columbia was named Female Canadian
Cyclist of the Year for 2008 after one week of voting on canadiancyclist.com.
Now in their 12th year, the Canadian Cyclist of the Year Awards are recognized
as the premier cycling awards in Canada.
Pendrel, who finished second in the season-long World Cup of mountain
bike racing and was fourth at the Olympic Games in the cross country,
finished marginally ahead of defending award winner Marie-Helene Premont
of Chateau Richer, Quebec. Premont won the World Cup overall title and
took a higher percentage of first place votes, but Pendrel's stronger
ranking in second and third place voting gave the New Brunswick-born rider
her first title. The top road racer was national road champion Alexandra
Wrubleski, in third place.
"It feels great to be voted Female Rider of the Year for 2008,"
said Pendrel. "It was a big year [for Canadian women], with a lot
of great performances by women on the road, track and dirt. This was definitely
my best season yet. I'm looking forward to another great season in 2009
with my Luna professional team."
On the men's side, Canadian national mountain bike champion Geoff Kabush
of Courtenay, British Columbia finished a distant second behind winner
Svein Tuft of Langley, British Columbia. Tuft repeated the award win after
taking more first place votes than his four competitors combined. He won
silver in the UCI time trial world championships and finished seventh
in the time trial at the Olympic Games. Tuft was subsequently signed to
the American Garmin-Chipotle professional team, and is scheduled to ride
the Tour de France in 2009.
Tour de France competitor and former mountain biker Ryder Hesjedal finished
One month to go until Australian nationals
Just one month remains until the 2009 Mountain Bike Australia National
Championships will be held on January 22-26 at Stromlo Forrest Park, Canberra.
The races will be held on the same courses as the 2009 World Mountain
Bike Championships and they will feature the best riders from all over
Complete course information, maps and a schedule are available at www.mtbnationals.com.au.
Registration is now open.
2009 Australian National Championships
Friday, January 23: club team relay
Saturday, January 24: 4X heats & finals; cross country (U17, sports,
Sunday, January 25: cross country (elites, U23 & U19 men & women;
veteran & expert men); downhill group C finals & group A seeding)
Monday, January 26: downhill groups A & B finals; short track
USA Cycling names clubs of the year
Black Bear Cycling of Sussex, New Jersey, was named mountain bike club
of the year by USA Cycling. It was one of ten sanctioned clubs to be recognized
for outstanding programs throughout the 2008 season and to receive complimentary
registration fees for the 2009 racing season.
The club promotes the Wawayanda Spring Cleaning mountain bike race in
Hewitt, New Jersey, and it hosted four clinics throughout the season focusing
on bike safety. Its members enjoyed several competitive successes throughout
the season with podium finishes at the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National
Championships and the Campmor H2H MTB Race Series.
The group maintains a high level of visibility in the regional racing
scene, has an exemplary volunteer record and partners with two state park
administrations and local high schools. Club members logged more than
300 hours in volunteer trail work in 2008.
Clubs were judged on several key areas including race promotion, membership
composition, instructional clinics and seminars, club activities, charitable
contributions and racing performance. Of USA Cycling's 2,216 member clubs,
approximately 76 applied for consideration in 10 separate categories.
Alpine winter downhill series returns to Innerleithen
Following last year's success, The Alpine Bikes Winter Downhill Series
is returning to Innerleithen for 2009 for two weekends of action. The
first round will happen on January 31 to February 1, and round two is
scheduled for February 28 to March 1.
"I am looking forward to two great weekends of racing set on the
famous Innerleithen downhill tracks," said Bryan Shedden of the only
winter races scheduled for Scotland.
Each weekend will feature a full day of practice on Saturday, more practice
Sunday morning and a single race run on Sunday afternoon.
For more information, visit www.alpinebikes.com or register at www.sda-races.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)