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MTB news & racing round-up for July 2, 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

Nash powers to first NMBS cross country win

By Dave McElwaine in Park City, Utah

Katerina Nash (Luna Women's MTB) winning
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Katerina Nash (Luna Women's MTB), a frequent visitor to the second step on the podium, finally beat out her powerful Luna team-mates to win her first National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) cross country race in Deer Valley, Utah. Georgia Gould (Luna Women's MTB) rode in third position for much of the race, but nailed down second place with a massive surge on the last lap.

"I've been riding well," said Nash. "I just tried to be patient. I was climbing well and it just all came together. It was a good day.

"Catherine let me take the lead on a downhill and she made a small mistake [behind me]," she added. "From that point on I just tried not to make any mistakes."

Catherine Pendrel (Luna Women's MTB) led for much of the race, but finished third after over-shooting a corner on a fast descent. The Luna Women are the top ranked women's team in the world, due to strong World Cup performances this season.

"On the climb after the feed zone it started breaking up and Katerina and I were rolling off the front," said Pendrel. "I was feeling good so I went to the front on the climb and was going to let Katerina lead on the descent because she was descending better than me.

"I actually made a mistake on the descent," she added. "I was hoping to put in a strong last lap but Georgia put in a stronger last lap."

Many of the racers, including the Luna squad, traveled back from the World Championships in Italy this week. It was uncertain how everyone would respond to racing so soon. The question was answered in the few seconds of the race as Pendrel and Gould shot to the front and led the entire field up the mountain in a side-by-side effort.

For Nash, the Czech National Champion, the victory was sweet after some disappointment this season. At the NMBS race in Fountain Hills she sustained a knee injury that resulted in her narrowly missing out on a chance to represent her country at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China this August.

With her win, Nash maintained her lead in the NMBS cross country series. She also won the short track the following day. The next round heads to Windham Mountain in New York on July 12-13 for the only East Coast stop for the series in 2008.

Trebon wins the hard way

Ryan Trebon (Kona) wins his first
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

In the men's NMBS cross county race in Deer Valley, Utah, it appeared that Ryan Trebon (Kona) was going backwards as a surging Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW) passed him on the second lap. But Trebon came back and won the race with superior climbing ability.

"I'd take time on Jeremiah on the climbs and then he'd catch me on the descents," said Trebon. "I feel really comfortable on this bike [a 29er] so I don't have as big a deficit on the descents. But Jeremiah still was definitely going downhill faster."

Trebon's victory at Deer Valley was the first time a 29inch wheeled bike has won a NMBS cross country race. There have been two previous wins by Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Gary Fisher) in short track and a time trial.

Bishop, finishing second, raced his best race of the year, but in the end could not hold off Trebon on the long climbs. Geoff Kabush (Maxxis), who just returned from a good European racing campaign, was third but never a factor in challenging for the win.

"I definitely stepped up to full gas," said Bishop. "I'm back and celebrated when I crossed the line because I went for the win. I kind of just followed my instincts and I attacked a little earlier than I thought I would [on the second lap].

"I started to cramp on lap three and really felt it on the last lap," he added. "[Trebon] won the race on the virtue of a steady, strong race."

Horgan-Kobelski continued his streak of bad luck, first with a flat tire that lost him at least eight positions. He recovered well and was moving up when he broke a chain, which forced the rider to run his bike to the finish and ride home in eighth place.

In the next day's short track, Kabush played smart tactics to defeat Trebon for the win.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of all the NMBS elite and amateur races in Deer Valley, Utah.

Three of four US Olympic mountain bikers chosen

Todd Wells (USA).
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

USA Cycling named three-quarters of its Olympic team on Tuesday including Todd Wells, Adam Craig and Georgia Gould. One woman's spot remains to be filled.

Wells was the only men's automatic nomination by virtue of earning the highest cumulative placing in his best three UCI Mountain Bike World Cup events of 2008. His finishes included sixth in Vallnord, Andorra, 11th in Houffalize, Belgium, and 13th in Fort William, Scotland. His placing in Andorra was the best of any American male at the World Cup this year.

Craig joins Wells after being selected as a discretionary choice. Craig was the only other American to finish in the top-ten at a World Cup this season, with an eighth in Offenburg, Germany. He logged four total top 20 World Cup finishes including also Houffalize, Andorra and Fort William.

On the women's side, Gould was the only automatic nominee after she earned the highest cumulative placing in her three best 2008 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup performances. Gould logged dual fifth-place finishes in Houffalize and Madrid. She also finished 11th at Fort William.

USA Cycling Director of Athletics and Team Leader for the Beijing squad, Pat McDonough, called the American team "one of the strongest we've had in recent history" and said the squad had medal-winning potential.

The remaining selection to the women's team will be announced by July 15. Mary McConneloug is considered by many to be the favorite candidate by virtue of her standing as the second best American in the World Cup standings thus far in 2008. McConneloug was the sole woman representing the US at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Four Canadian Olympians selected

Marie-Helene Premont (Canada)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The Canadian Cycling Association (CCA) announced its team of two men and two women for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in August: Marie-Hélène Prémont, Catharine Pendrel, Geoff Kabush and Seamus McGrath. The women and men will race August 22 and 23 respectively.

In mid-June, Prémont finished fourth at the World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy. Showing her consistency on the international scene, she also medalled at all five World Cup events this season so far. In 2004, she won silver at the Olympics in Athens.

"There's more attention on me than four years ago," said Prémont according to the Canadian Cycling Association's website. "But I'm prepared and I will go there to do the best I can. That's the approach I had in Athens and I hope it'll work again this time too. But this year I know what the Olympic Games are about and I think I’ll be more relaxed and more confident."

Her Olympic team-mate Pendrel finished sixth at the World Championships. Pendrel raced last year's Test Event in Beijing and liked the course. "It's physically demanding, there's absolutely no rest on it," she said.

The North American country will field two men with proven international records. Although battling a recent cold at the World Championships, Kabush placed as high as third in a World Cup round earlier this season while McGrath claimed ninth at the Olympics four years ago.

Sean O'Donnel, the CCA's High Performance Manager, believes the team has plenty of potential. "We go into Beijing with a strong chance of earning at least one medal in both the men's and women's event. It's a very experienced team and a very strong team and that bodes well for Canada."

Gujan and Saner triumph in Champéry

Martin Gujan and Marielle Saner won round five of the Swisspower Cup in Champéry. The race took place under fantastic, summery conditions on a technical course that saw many changes in positions, crashes and mechanicals.

Gujan (Athleticum MTB Team) and Marco Aurelio Fontana (Hard Rock FRW) dictated the pace at the front. At the beginning, Gujan's team-mate Mathias Flückiger also played a role, but he later withdrew and did not finish the race. Gion Manetsch (Athleticum MTB Team) was in third place after the split was made on the second last lap. That's when Gujan got away with Fontana and went on to a solo win in 1.46.46. Fontana ended up second at 50 seconds while Manetsch finished third in 1.45. With his victory, Gujan also took over the overall lead.

In the women's race, Marielle Saner Guinchard (Bikepark.ch / BMC) took an unquestionable home victory with a time of 1.30.48. She was in the front after lap one and never looked back. Behind her was second-placed Maroussia Rusca (Scott Allianz Suisse), who would finish 59 seconds back, and third placed Katrin Leumann (goldwurst-power / Sputnik) at two minutes.

The next round of the Swisspower Cup takes place in two weeks in Savognin on July 12-13. See Cyclingnews' full coverage of round five of the Swisspower Cup.

Jongewaard not selected for Olympics

Chris Jongewaard, one of Australia's top mountain bikers has been left off the country's team for the Beijing Olympics over behavioural issues, Cycling Australia announced Friday. The mountain bike spots were awarded to Daniel McConnell and Dellys Starr.

While Jongewaard is the country's highest ranked rider, he was not considered for the Games because he is facing charges over a hit-and-run incident last year.

In February of 2007, Jongewaard had been celebrating the birthday of his friend and training partner Matthew Rex when he hit Rex with his car. Rex sustained head injuries and was temporarily placed in a coma, but has since recovered.

"The committee believes it cannot in good faith nominate Chris Jongewaard," the Cycling Australia statement read. "We acknowledge he met the performance criteria but nomination for selection in the Australian team for the Olympic Games is based on more than results."

Jongewaard had until July 1 to file an appeal with final selections to be determined on July 4.

Firecracker 50 to decide American marathon champions

The Firecracker 50 will host the USA Cycling Mountain Bike Marathon National Championships on Friday, July 4, the Independence Day holiday in the US. In its eighth year, the Breckenridge, Colorado, race is hosting the nationals for the second consecutive year.

"The course was one of the best I've raced, with super fun singletrack and challenging climbs," 2007 Marathon National Champion Shonny Vanlandingham said to the Denver Post.

The race begins at 11 am, and racers will tackle two 25-mile loops with a total of 10,800 feet of climbing. Given the high Rocky Mountains location at more than 9,000 feet, the altitude is expected to play a role in the race.

Last year's event was won by Shonny Vanlandingham (Luna Chix) and Jay Henry (Tokyo Joe's).

BC Bike diary: stage two's Dog Day

By Jon Posner

Somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Photo ©: Jason Berry
(Click for larger image)

I love it when a term can have two completely different meanings. Today [stage two - ed.] was the dog day of the BC Bike Race.

Meaning 1:

We've all heard of the "dog days of summer" when it is so hot you don't want to move, much less ride a 125 km stage of a mountain bike race. Today the temperatures hovered around 34 degrees [degrees Celsius]. That's Canadian for 93 degrees [Fahrenheit]. That's a reeeeeal hot day for these parts.

Meaning 2:

Have you seen 24 Solo? There's a great scene where the Aussie Craig Gordon is talking about his racing strategy. He rides in "the dog" or, the big ring of the crankset. In fact, we quote him all the time from that scene..." It's in dog...eh...I say, 'Have you got it in the dog?'" Today's stage consisted of 122 km of open gravel logging road surfaces, with about 2.5 km of singletrack trail at the tail end. It was really good trail. But the gravel road was a mind-numbing five hour slog in the big ring at high speed with very little shelter from the sun. I estimate we spent 90% of the day "in the dog".

The race started innocently enough, with a police escorted, rolling start out of town. We must be a sight to see, our unruly mob of 450 or so brightly clad lycra covered bike racers, about a city block's length and taking up nearly the full width of the road. Most people pulled over to let us go by and just watched with mouths agape, wondering just what is was they were witnessing.

Read the complete diary for stage two. Or check out entries from other stages of the BC Bike race. Jon Posner, Jason Berry, Chris Eatough and Jeff Schalk are taking turns writing the diary.

Also see Cyclingnews' full stage-by-stage coverage of the BC Bike Race.

Teenage mountain biker mauled by bear

By Mark Appleton, Bikeradar.com

A teenaged girl competing in a 24-hour mountain bike event near Anchorage, Alaska has been critically injured in a bear attack. The animal, believed to have been a female Grizzly, struck in darkness at around 1.30am in the town's Bicentennial Park yesterday morning, leaving the un-named victim with bite injuries to her head, torso and thigh as well as a "sucking chest wound." The latter typically occurs when an object penetrates the body and punctures the lung cavity.

Medics, accompanied by shotgun-carrying police officers, entered the park to retrieve the rider. According to the Alaska Daily News, she was found by Peter Basinger, a fellow competitor on the Arctic Bicycle Club event which began at noon local time on Saturday, using an 8 mile loop of groomed trails. Basinger is said to have waited with the girl until rescuers trekked the half mile into the forested park to reach them before she was stretchered back to a waiting ambulance.

The teen, who according to some reports is just 14 years-old, underwent surgery at the Providence Alaska Medical Center and is expected to survive according a spokeswoman for the Anchorage Fire Department.

Gunn-Rita diary: Rough day at the worlds

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

A very demanding World Championship race track in 30 degrees (Celsius), meant a really tough day at the office. Still, it was a valuable experience with good feel and flow. An acceptable seventh place at this year's World Championship is a step in the right direction.

A seventh place in a World Championship, seen against the backdrop of my previous merits, certainly isn't an outstanding result in and of itself. We work in order to make an impact at the very top of the world's elite, and this will continue to be the case as long as I am a professional cyclist. Yesterday's race was primarily an important training session during which my machinery really got a run for its money, which in time will make us stronger.

Many were expecting a lot more of me yesterday, and I noticed a degree of disappointment amongst people I spoke to after the seventh place. Kenneth and I had both spoken openly about the fact that we weren't good enough to take a medal at this championship, even with strong legs and a good feeling.

I lost most time to the best girls up the steepest climbs where sheer strength is essential. That's exactly what we didn't get to train enough through the winter, and it takes time to build up those qualities. For this very reason, yesterday's race was a highly valuable session of training which will doubtlessly pay off later on in the season.

Read the complete diary entry.

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