MTB news & racing round-up for February 2, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
The American road to the big show
By Jackson Weber
The start of the men's Olympic
mountain bike race in 2004.
Photo ©: AFP
Somewhere in Colorado Springs, someone at USA Cycling may be whispering
sweet nothings to Madonna del Ghisallo that controversy doesn't rear its
head again in 2008 with the US Olympic Team final mountain bike team selections.
After a much-maligned selection process for the 2004 Olympic Games mountain
bike team, USA Cycling updated the criteria for making the Olympic Team
The problems of the 2004 selection were dramatic enough that they drew
the attention of Gripped Films, producers of the documentary movie Off
Road to Athens. Then, the selection process ended in arbitration
for the women. In response, for the 2008 Olympic Games, USA Cycling came
out with a new plan, a new system and a new support structure, all designed
to prevent a repeat of four years ago.
2004 - Off-track to Athens
In 2004, USA Cycling selection procedures dictated that the primary way
to select the Olympic team was to provide automatic nominations for any
mountain biker who placed in the top three at the 2004 UCI World Mountain
Bike Championships. If no athlete met this criterion, athletes would be
selected according to their place in the UCI rankings.
The system had one apparently unforeseen consequence that proved devastating
for some of the riders. Because so many events offered UCI points, athletes
in the running for the Olympic team couldn't afford not to race every
weekend for fear of some other athlete digging up a few extra UCI points
and moving ahead in the rankings.
What ensued was a "Greatest Race" style escapade for American
racers who roamed the globe questing for precious points. Ask just about
anyone except perhaps Adam Craig, and for the elite men, things appeared
to go relatively smoothly with Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (JHK) and Todd Wells
making the team.
In contrast, on the women's side, all hell broke loose. Thanks to the
UCI's approach to maintaining its rankings at the time, when the points
chase came to a close, no one was sure if Sue Haywood or Mary McConneloug
had the most points, which was important since the US had qualified only
one woman for Athens.
"Well, in the end there was an official points tally and an unofficial
points tally," explained Haywood. "The unofficial one was tallied
by USA Cycling and myself as well. This 'unofficial' tally was all the
races in which I actually competed and placed. It was 'unofficial' because
USA Cycling had never submitted some of my points even though they repeatedly
told me that they had. And they promised that those points would count."
Photo ©: FJ Hughes
Except they didn't. Because of an error on the part of both the UCI and
USA Cycling, Haywood's 15 points at the Sandpoint, Idaho, UCI-sanctioned
E2 race were not included in the final official tally. The confusion was
so great that both McConneloug and Haywood ended up in court to argue
their case (at separate times). In the end, the 15 points that Haywood
scored in Idaho were disallowed, and McConneloug went to the Olympics.
She placed a creditable ninth, but the damage was done.
"The points race simply wore the athletes out before the actual
Olympics," said Haywood, whose sentiments have been echoed by many.
"To me, it seemed like the people who made those criteria up were
out of touch with mountain biking." USA Cycling refused to comment.
2008 - A better way?
JHK practises on the Parnitha mountain
bike course in Greece
Photo ©: AFP
Since 2004, USA Cycling has worked hard to improve the system and avoid
a repeat of 2004's selection drama. New selection criteria were set in
writing well in advance, and the athlete support system was dramatically
improved. Even Haywood acknowledged, "It looks a lot better."
Andy Lee, USA Cycling's Director of Communications, explained the changes
in detail to Cyclingnews. "The 2008 Olympic selection procedures
have changed in several different aspects," said Lee in an email.
"First of all, we created a Long Team concept based on UCI Ranking
and Coaches' selection which is determined at the end of the year preceding
the Olympic Games."
The Long Team concept means that those athletes who have a chance at
making the Olympic team know so well enough in advance that they can plan
their seasons accordingly. Given the new selection criteria this planning
will be quite important. USA Cycling announced
the Long Team in late January after the UCI
announced qualifying spots for most nations.
Read the complete
Australian champions back up wins at Beauty
Chris Jongewaard getting air
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
Both Australian cross country national champions, Dellys Starr and Chris
Jongewaard, backed up last weekend's national championship wins with further
victories at the final round of the National Mountain Bike Series held
in the Alpine district at Mt Beauty, Victoria.
Starr's win last week obtained her a position on the shadow Olympic team
for Australia, while Jongewaard is already one of three males on the shadow
team along with Dan McConnell and Sid Taberlay. McConnell raced and placed
a creditable second in the weekend's race.
For the Australian fans it was the last time they would see their potential
Olympians at a national event before August. In mid-January the UCI announced
that Australia would have one position for a female and one for a male
at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
In the men's downhill race, world champion Sam Hill claimed victory.
At just 22 years of age, Hill is currently ranked number one in the World
following his prestigious World Cup series win last season. He rode a
blistering 3'10" to win the Victorian event after qualifying fastest
in the seeding run in heavy rain. Hill's appearance, his only in Australia
since claiming his second World Championship in Scotland last August,
was cheered by fans.
"It was awesome especially coming into the last chute," said
Hill of the support. "You could hear them 20 seconds before I got
Though not Australian, British racer Tracy Moseley, bested Queensland
sensation Tracey Hannah in the women's downhill. At number three in the
world, Hannah qualified fastest but her final run of 3'51" included
a crash in the final berm leaving her three seconds behind Moseley's time.
See full coverage of the cross
track events of the final round of the Australian National Series.
Colorado Epic postponed
The inaugural Colorado Epic stage race has been postponed for 2008, but
organizers remain committed to rolling it out the new race in the Rocky
Mountains for 2009.
"It's an incredibly difficult event to do well and we won't compromise
on quality for an event like this," said Bigfoot Productions Managing
Director Michael McCormack. "In assessing where we are in our timeline,
it's become obvious that we'd need to put everything else on the backburner
between now and July to make it happen."
Bigfoot Productions Organizers are not willing to sacrifice their other
events, most of which are part of the Mountain States Cup (MSC), to pull
off the Colorado Epic. This year's MSC includes three UCI category events
and three new venues.
Mountain States Cup for 2008
April 12-13: MSC#1, Fruita, Colorado (XC, STXC)
May 2-4: MSC#2, Chalk Creek Stampede, Nathrop, Colorado (XC, STXC, 4X,
May 23-26: MSC#3, Chile Challenge, Angel Fire, New Mexico (XC, DH, DS,
4X) (UCI Category 1)
June 6-8: MSC#4, SolVista, Colorado (XC, DS, 4X)
June 20-22: MSC #5, Wildflower Rush, Crested Butte, Colorado (XC, DH,
July 11-13: MSC#6, Blast the Mass, Snowmass Village, Colorado (XC, DS,
DH, 4X) (UCI event)
August 1-3: MSC #7, Full Tilt in Telluride, Colorado (XC, HC, DH, DS)
(Colorado State Championships)
August 15-17: MSC#8, Keystone Climax, Keystone, Colorado (DH, DS, DH)
(Gravity Stage Race, UCI Category 2)
August 23-24: MSC#9, Eldora escape, Nederland, Colorado (XC, STXC) (Colorado
August 29-31: MSC#10, SolVista2, SolVista, Colorado (DH, DS, DH)
September 6-7: MSC#11, The Fall Classic, Breckenridge, Colorado (XC, HC,
London Olympic organizers told to seek another mountain bike course
The UCI asked organizers of the 2012 Olympics in London to come up with
more difficult course than the one originally proposed at Weald County
Park in Essex according to the Associated Press. The original course
is reportedly not tough enough for the ever changing sport of mountain
"The UCI has asked us to find a course that meets new and challenging
requirements that test the best mountain bikers in the world in 2012,"
Federau chases Olympic Spot
Ricky Federau motorpacing
Photo ©: Bruce Wenting
26 year-old former Canadian national champion Ricky Federau is among
those riders chasing a spot on the Canadian team for the Olympic Games
in Beijing. In order to qualify for the selection pool, he will need to
earn a top 16 placing in a World Cup competition prior to the end of May
2008. Should he make the list, Federau will be up against the already
qualified Geoff Kabush and Seamus McGrath.
"When I compare my results to the other guys, I know that I am as
fast or faster then any of them on any given day," said the optimistic
Federau. "Seamus had that awesome result (16th) at Mount St. Anne
last summer and Geoff is one of the best in North America. When I look
at lap times from St Felicien where I was 21st and less then two minutes
out of the top 16, I know that I am capable of a good result."
Federau has a season of highs and lows in 2007. He did well in early
competition at home and in Poland, then returned to Canada for both World
Cups, where he raced strongly enough to earn a berth on the Canadian Pan
Am Games team bound for Brazil.
Unfortunately, Federau's luck turned. "My year went way down hill
after that! I double flatted in Brazil and picked up a bug that kept me
out of the Canadian Nationals. The form never returned for the remaining
World Cups and World Championships." He lost his Sport Canada funding
used to pay for travel and entries and is now raising the travel money
Federau's season will start on the road around Fraser Valley. His mountain
bike season will kick off at the NMBS race in Fontana, California. April
will see him lining up against the best in the world in Belgium, Germany
"I really can't say what I'll be doing after the World Cups,"
said Federau "I'll either be in the pool for selection to Beijing
or looking for motivation to finishing up the season domestically. There
are a couple of big multi-day events I would like to do in British Columbia
and Alberta, but I don't know if the spark will be there."
IF backs road and MTB teams
At the Independent Fabrication
Photo ©: Jon Bruno
The newly formed IF Racing officially opened its season this past weekend
in Somerville, Massachusetts, at the Independent Fabrication factory.
Team Director Jonathan Bruno called together the newly expanded U25 Development
program and Pro Mountain Bike Team for a weekend of team building followed
by a team presentation on Sunday to their sponsors, family, friends and
the media at Lionette's the Garden of Eden Market.
The team spent Saturday on Thompson Island in the Boston Harbor performing
many teambuilding exercises led by Outward Bound staff. The climax was
when every rider, including those scared of heights, climbed a 30-foot
pole and launching themselves off.
In addition to its efforts to promote environmental sustainability and
healthy choices in conjunction with similarly minded sponsors, the team
will participate in an after school cycling program for Boston Public
Schools, where Bruno teaches high school and helped launch cycling the
program, and support a scholarship for public school students.
On the mountain bike side, Trish Stevenson will join Harlan Price to
bolster the team's endurance racing efforts off road. Asheville's Stevenson
is returning to full time racing after suffering a broken back in late
2006. Both cross country riders, who will be riding Ti Deluxe 29ers, are
dominant figures in the National Ultra Endurance series as well as 12
hour and multi-day stage races across the North and Central America. This
season, Price will venture overseas to contest a World Cup Marathon in
France in October.
Independent Fabrication MTB Team for 2008: Harlan Price and Trish
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Jon Bruno / Independent Fabrication
Käss sees early season setback
Team ALB Gold's Jochen Käss got his season off to a rough start with
a broken middle finger of his right hand. Käss crashed on a bridge while
training last week and was scheduled to undergo an operation Monday.
His team called the bridge "harmless" and said the rider had
already traversed it many times, but a morning rain made the wood slick.
"I rode carefully, too, because timber bridges in the forest are
always somewhat malicious," said Käss. "But everything happened
rather fast. My front wheel slipped away and I hit my hand on the railing."
"I thought nothing had happened except bruising my shoulder, but
in the hospital, I confirmed the break," said Käss, who hoped to
resume training later this week. He suffered a similar setback during
his preparation for the 2004 Olympic season when he broke his collarbone.
Brodie signs Brass
Photo ©: Alex Webb
17 year-old Thomas Brass, from Victoria, British Columbia, joined the
Brodie Bicycles team for 2008. Brass started building and hitting his
own jumps and ramps at age seven. Brass will ride Cretin this season.
Wanted: Junior downhillers from British Columbia
Cycling British Columbia (BC) is looking for a few junior downhill riders
who aspire to be part of the Provincial Team preparing for the Canadian
"We're working hard on raising funding to help Provincial Team riders
prepare for the National Championships," said Cycling BC's Provincial
Head Coach and High Performance Director Richard Wooles "One of the
first steps is to see who would interested in training towards this goal."
"We are going to invite a group to meet the Provincial Head Coach
at a gym to go over some training fundamentals to build a base over the
next few months," said Wooles of a plans for a gather in Squamish
on February 17.
Replies to email@example.com are due by Thursday, February
7. Applicants are asked to include their name, age, contact info, category
for 2008, level of riding (example: Canada Cup/Nationals/Worlds), and
top finishes in 2007.
Costa Rica race features volcanoes
Joining other endurance events on the Costa Rican mountain bike calendar
is the El Reto de los Volcanes, the only mountain bike stage race that
climbs three different volcanoes (Irazú, Barva and Poas) in three days
from April 12 to 14.
The first stage starts in Cot, not far from the capital of San Jose and
goes around Irazu Volcano. Stage two moves to Birri and climbs the Barva
Volcano before finishing in San Pedro de Poás. The last stage heads toward
the Poas Volcano, which has the widest crater in the world. The race ends
back in San Pedro de Poás.
The first edition of the race, held in 2007, was won by Esteban Blanco
and Nancy Amores.
Proceeds from the race will benefit the San Pedro de Poás. For more information,
El Reto de los Volcanes 2008
Stage 1: Cot de Cartago-Volcán Irazú-Cot de Cartago, 53km
Stage 2: Hotel Montecampana-Volcán Barva-San Pedro de Poás, 60km
Stage 3: San Pedro de Poás-Volcán Poás-San Pedro de Poás, 60km
AY-Up Dusk to Dawn postponed
The Ay-Up Dusk to Dawn, originally scheduled for February 9 in Kooralbyn,
Queensland, has been postponed by organizers until the weekend of March
1 due to recent and expected torrential rains. All entries will be transferred
over to the new date. For more information, visit www.twowheelpromotions.com.au.
Klunkerz travels with stars to Fort William
When Klunkerz heads to Fort William for a screening on February
20, two of the film's stars will come along including Gary Fisher and
Charlie Kelly. The film is a documentary about the early days of mountain
biking by key pioneers of the sport in Marin County in California.
"I'm very pleased that these legends will be making the trip. They
are endlessly fascinating and have many great stories to tell," said
writer, producer and director Billy Savage. The pair will join Save for
a question and answer session after the screening. For more information,
Season wraps up at Coronet Peak
Mountain bikers celebrated the end of a third successful season at Coronet
Peak Bike Park with one last downhill ride on Sunday, February 3. Starting
on January 3, the season was shorter than previous years due to development
work to prepare for the winter ski season.
Coronet Peak hosted several events including the Subaru South Island
Downhill Cup and the NZCT South Island Cross Country Cup from January
4-6, the Vertigo Chain Free Downhill on January 19and the Nzone Brake
Burner endurance race on February 2. The races saw notably high attendance.
For example, 200 riders showed up for the Nzone Brake Burner six-hour
Endurance Race. In between racing events, New Zealand champion Scarlett
Hagen hosted training sessions.
"We're committed to developing recreation at Coronet Peak outside
the winter ski season, and the Bike Park is a great use of the facilities
during the summer months," said Mountain Biking Operations Manager
Jeff Hodge. Current facilities include a 4.2km cross country track, a
1.6km downhill track and a freeride park with wooden features and a see
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)