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MTB news & racing round-up for July 12, 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

Divide racing wrapping up

The Tour Divide started in Canada
Photo ©: Tour Divide
(Click for larger image)

Over the past week and a half, the top Great Divide racing finishers have been rolling across the finish line at Antelope Wells, the border crossing station between the US and Mexico at the southern end of the Great Divide Route. Although they started about one week apart, the winners have been decided in both the Great Divide Race, which includes only the US portion of the Great Divide Route, and the Tour Divide, which also includes the Canadian portion of the Great Divide Route.

John Nobile, the fastest Great Divide Racer, finished with a record-breaking time of 15 days, one hour and 26 minutes. He beat the previous record of Jay Petervary (set in 2007) of 15 days, four hours and 18 minutes. Carl Hutchings and Rainer Klaus rounded out the top three.

"It was a pretty gruelling day," said Nobile of his final push according to greatdividerace.blogspot.com. He slept only two hours in the final three days and not at all in the final 48 hours. "I made it. It's hot as hell down here. [I'm] glad to be here, and glad to be heading north."

In the Tour Divide Race, organizer Matthew Lee finished first in 19 day and 12 hours. He was followed by Ardie Olson and a group of four including Alan Goldsmith, Dominik Scherer, Adrian Stingaciu and Leighton White.

At the time of writing, racers were still finishing the event which started in mid-June. Provisional results are below.

Great Divide Race (2,490 miles)
1 John Nobile             15 days, 1 hour, 26 minutes (New Record) 
2 Carl Hutchings          17 days, 10 hours, 41 minutes 
3 Rainer Klaus            18 days, 1 hour, 26 minutes 
Tour Divide (2711 miles)

1 Matthew Lee             19 days, 12 hours, 0 minutes
2 Ardie Olson             21 days, 13 hours, 46 minutes
3 Alan Goldsmith          23 days, 22 hours, 55 minutes
  Dominik Scherer
  Adrian Stingaciu
  Leighton White    

Kalentieva renews with Topeak Ergon through 2010

Irina Kalentieva has extended her contract with Topeak Ergon for another two years through 2010. Despite plenty of other offers, the 2007 World Champion, who finished third at the 2008 World Championships, did not seriously entertain ideas of changing teams.

"I actually couldn’t imagine riding for some other team," said the 30 year-old Kalentieva, who first signed for the green and black clad squad in 2006. Since joining the team, she has claimed one World Championship title, two silver medals at the European Championships, one overall World Cup series win and three World Cup wins. She ended the 2007 season ranked number one in the world.

Swiss and British select Olympic team

U23 Swiss racer Nino Schurter
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Switzerland and Great Britain finalized their selections for their Olympic mountain bike teams.

For Switzerland, five racers will be headed to Beijing including World Champion Christoph Sauser, U23 World Champion Nino Schurter, and European Champion Florian Vogel on the men's team and 2007 Marathon World Champion Petra Henzi and Nathalie Schneitter on the women's team. Left off the Swiss team was so Ralph Näf, who won bronze at the worlds in Val di Sole, Italy in mid-June.

Oliver Beckingsale and Liam Killeen will be representing Great Britain off-road.

"It's great to be selected, and a relief," said Beckingsale. "This will be my third Olympic Games and I believe it will be my best by a long way. In the last few years I've been riding better than ever and I believe I will produce a personal best performance at these Games."

The Olympic mountain bike races are scheduled for August 22-23.

McConneloug added to US Olympic team

Mary McConneloug was the final mountain biker added to the US Olympic Team on Thursday by USA Cycling. As a discretionary nominee picked by a nine-person selection committee, she joins automatic nominee Georgia Gould. McConneloug is the highest-ranked American in the world in 10th. Last month in Val di Sole, Italy, she was the third-best American at the 2008 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships with a 20th-place finish.

The rest of the mountain bike team selections were announced earlier this month.

Jongewaard moves closer to Olympic dream

By Greg Johnson

Australian's Chris Jongewaard moved one step closer to achieving his Olympic dream after Cycling Australia's Appeal Tribunal announcing it has upheld his appeal against non-selection Friday. Jongewaard's appeal over his non-selection for the nation's only elite men's mountain biker position was heard in Melbourne Thursday, with the three-member panel announcing its findings Friday.

"The Cycling Australia Appeals Tribunal today upheld the appeal of Chris Jongewaard against his non-nomination to the AOC for Australian Team for the Olympic Games in Beijing," announced Cycling Australia. "The Tribunal will therefore, in accordance with the AOC Team Selection By Law, refer the nomination decision back to Cycling Australia for review."

The Cycling Australia Tribunal is expected to release written reasons for it upholding the rider's appeal "as soon as possible". Those reasons will then be considered by the Cycling Australia High Performance Committee, which will meet to consider the Tribunal's findings.

The South Australian is Australia's highest ranked mountain biker, but was left off the Australian Olympic squad when the selection panel announced it couldn't "in good faith nominate" the rider due to a pending court case. Jongewaard is due to answer charges later this year regarding a hit-and-run incident, in which Jongewaard allegedly stuck training partner Matthew Rex, leaving Rex with head injuries and in a medically-induced coma for 12 days.

While the incident took place in February 2007, and Rex has since recovered, court proceedings over the charges have been delayed on numerous occasions. The trial is scheduled to take place in December of this year.

Noosa Enduro sees new start/finish

This year's Noosa Enduro, set for July 13, is drawing racers from North South West, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory in Australia. A new start/finish location in Stan Topper Park, Pomona was picked after unprecedented growth in registered competitors. It will also open up access to a new playground of trails.

The event will include two diverse 50km courses. The intermediate 50km course is a faster flowing, yet tantalizing loop de loop through the Ringtail State Forest, whereas the advanced 50km course loops out of Pomona; a gut busting, hill climbing route incorporating the mighty "Mother", the Cooran tablelands and the descent into the township of Kin Kin. The 100km will combine the best of both worlds with the 50km racers having a choice of courses. New for 2008 is also a singlespeed category.

The quickest riders are expected to complete the 100km in less than five hours, but some will need most of the 10 hour cut off time to finish.

The event will benefit the SHINE project, a Noosa Shire Council charity which supports the provision of services and infrastructure to assist victims of Domestic and Family Violence on the Sunshine Coast. Racers will compete for AUS$25,000 in cash and prizes.

For more information, visit www.noosajazz.com.au.

Walkerville classic happening this weekend

The Medscheme Walkerville Mountain Bike Classic will take place on July 13 in South Africa with an expected 1,500 racers. Among the favorites attending is Yolandé Speedy, who will represent South Africa at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

The race will consist of two distances: an intermediate 35 km route and a more challenging 60 km for the serious adventure racing junkies out there. Both courses were designed by Ken Davies, route director.

For more information, visit www.cyclingnews.co.za.

Kelli Emmett's bike: A lighter option for Giant

By James Huang

Kelli Emmett's Giant
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

Full-carbon hardtails seem to be making a comeback on mountain bike cross country circuits worldwide and Giant Bicycles is among the latest sponsors to outfit its team riders with the ultimate in light weight for when conditions allow. For many races this year, second-year Giant MTB pro Kelli Emmett has traded in her trusty 1.9kg (4.2lb) Anthem Advanced short-travel full-suspension platform for an XTC Advanced frame that undercuts that already-light figure by nearly half; claimed weight for her second-generation prototype is just under 1kg (2.2lb).

"It is just awesome!' said Emmett shortly before winning the cross country event at this year's Sea Otter Classic. "It feels so light and amazing on the climbs. It is crazy how noticeable [the weight loss] is."

The new frame borrows a few design features from the road-going TCR Advanced SL, notably the oversized rectangular-profile down tube and beefier top tube for better front triangle rigidity. However, there's no press-fit bottom bracket shell to be found here (at least for now) and the head tube is designed around a conventional 1 1/8" steerer tube.

Unlike some other race-specific hardtails, though, Giant at least built the XTC Advanced around a 100mm-travel fork for more predictable handling on rougher terrain. As it turns out, Emmett used an 80mm-travel Fox Racing Shox F80 RL at Sea Otter but the extra 20mm proved handy later in the season.

Read the complete feature.

Specialized cross-country gear grows faster and sharper for 2009

The new Epic: an even-faster cross-country race bike but now also so much more

By James Huang in Camp Tamarancho, California

Specialized's new 2009 S-Works Epic
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

The 2009 Specialized Epic has finally been treated to the full-blown revamp that the company gave its longer-travel Stumpjumper and Enduro brethren over the past couple of years and it's been well worth our wait. As expected, this new version is substantially lighter and faster-feeling than its predecessor but after three days of thrashing this latest iteration around Camp Tamarancho in Marin County, California, it also seems far more capable, too.

Lying at the heart of this newfound ability is an all-new carbon frame and shock that Specialized says is 330g (0.73lb) lighter than the '08 model. The new seat stays and asymmetrical chain stays are now carbon fiber as well and while the upper link has reverted back to forged aluminum construction, its newly minimal dimensions drop its weight to a scant 40g. Claimed weight is now just 2.04kg (4.5lb) for a medium frame and rear shock; other componentry upgrades means a complete medium-sized bike in top-end trim now posts a truly feathery 9.65kg (21.27lb) figure without pedals. Yowsa.

The rear end retains a familiar four-bar layout but the new 'mini Brain' rear shock has been moved to a more centralized location beneath the top tube. According to Specialized, this supposedly eliminates the occasional off-center loading the old 'sidewinder' layout occasionally suffered on harder impacts. The compression damping circuit has been shifted completely to the axle-located remote unit, too, leaving a far smaller bit up front that still leaves enough room for a large-sized water bottle in the main triangle.

As with the Enduro and Stumpjumper, the front derailleur mounts directly to the swingarm via Specialized's DMD (Direct Mount Derailleur) setup.

Read part one or part two of the complete feature.

Racing from mountains to beach in Australia

Imagine a week of racing from the highest mountains of Australia, across snowgum lined plains, down along rainforest lined creeks and out to finish in the sand and surf. Event promoter Wild Horizons announced such an event: the inaugural BMC Mountains To Beach from March 1-7, 2009

In a "tour" style event, solo racers or pairs will complete 400km in a journey from the mountains to the beach, from Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains to Narooma on the South Coast of North South West. The majority of the riding will be in race stages that will test the full range of skills - uphill, downhill, cross country, marathon, riding under lights. A short navigation stage and a potential task or two en route will also keep riders' mental facilities sharp. Timed race stages will range from 5km to 100km, and they will be interspersed with a number of non-race cruising stages en route.

"When we announced the retiring of our 11 year old Polaris Challenge event in 2007, the reason was to allow us to run a stage race on mainland Australia in the month of March," said Wild Horizons' Huw Kingston. "Our Course Director Wayne Byard and myself have been working on Mountains to Beach for well over a year now."

"We're really excited by the route and the riding we've pulled together and the partnerships we're forming with host communities along the way," said Kingston. "As with all our events, we're putting on a professionally organized, challenging and fun race with the usual Wild Horizons slight offbeat elements included."

"Our hope is that the event will establish itself as a 'must do' event on the Australian and international MTB calendar," said Kingston. More details will be available on www.wildhorizons.com.au this month.

Registration open for Yellowmundee MTB Grand Prix

Registration is now open for the two-day Yellowmundee MTB Grand Prix in the Blue Mountains of Australia for the weekend of October 4-5. Practice will be held Saturday with qualifying and racing stages on Sunday. The event will be fully catered with camping option and food.

Qualifying on Sunday will consist of each rider doing one timed lap, which is expected to be relatively short and easy, averaging 15 minutes per lap. The full race will run for six hours. The most laps completed within six hours and the shortest time thereafter will win in each category.

Newbies are invited to compete as members of three and four-person teams, and more experienced riders may choose to race solo or as part of a duo.

For more information, visit www.rockytrailentertainment.com.

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