MTB news & racing round-up for July 18, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
America's best head to Mount Snow, Vermont
By Dave McElwaine in West Dover, Vermont
Todd Wells (GT)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
One thousand mountain bikers are competing in various categories for
a stars-and-stripes jersey this weekend from July 17 through July 20 at
Mount Snow in West Dover, Vermont. Categories include cross country, short
track, dual slalom, downhill, observed trials, and super D.
Always a favorite with the racers, Mount Snow offers some of the most
challenging East Coast singletrack that the riders face all year. Typically,
conditions include deep mud, but this year, trail maintenance crews are
reporting that the trails are relatively dry. Roots, rocks, and steep
climbs are the norm on the demanding five-mile cross country course. The
weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 80s [degrees Fahrenheit]
with possible scattered showers. As many racers know, overnight rains
can dramatically change the course conditions.
This will be the last domestic competition for the newly named US Olympic
Mountain Biking Team before the Olympic race in Beijing, China. Adam Craig
(Giant), Todd Wells (GT/Pacific), Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven), and
Georgia Gould (Luna Women's MTB) will all be on hand to compete this weekend.
The Olympians face a special challenge in that they must be at peak performance
about a month from now, making it hard to be at top form this weekend
also. Craig and McConneloug each will be defending two national championship
titles at Mount Snow.
USA Cycling has planned a special ceremony to award the Olympic Team
their jerseys at 5:30 pm on Saturday, July 19. It is hoped that there
will be a large turn-out of race fans to celebrate the occasion.
Mary McConneloug (Kenda/Seven)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
Defending champion Mary McConneloug will have a rematch with the powerful
Georgia Gould at Mount Snow. While both are among the top ten UCI ranked
racers in the world, McConneloug has yet to beat Gould this year at any
of the European races in which they went head-to head. McConneloug; however,
has proven especially adept at handling the technical conditions at Mount
Snow and has won there many times.
Also on hand to compete for the championship will be Lea Davison (Trek
/ VW), who bested McConneloug at the World Championships. Team-mates Heather
Irmiger and Willow Koerber (Gary Fisher/Subaru) each have skills that
make them a threat at Mount Snow. Koerber won the NORBA National race
there in 2004.
Finally, a dark horse in the race is Katie Compton (Spike), the current
US National Cyclo-cross Champion. Compton has just competed the seven-day
BC Bike Race and is reported to have excellent form.
Adam Craig, also talented in muddy technical conditions, will face challenges
from several riders this year. Jeremiah Bishop finished second last year
and has been on form for several weeks. He recently won the US National
Marathon Championship in Breckenridge, Colorado. Craig's Olympic team-mate
Todd Wells has had the best World Cup and World Championship results of
any American this season. Wells is also in good form, having won the short
track in Windham, New York, last weekend.
Always a threat is former US National Cross Country champion Ryan Trebon
(Kona) who won the NMBS cross country two weeks ago at Deer Valley, Utah.
In addition, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Subaru), a great climber,
is well suited to the Mount Snow course.
Read the complete preview
of all events and stay tuned to Cyclingnews for results, race reports,
and photos all weekend.
Joseph and Milatz win Bundesliga round
Moritz Milatz winning
Photo ©: Armin M. Küstenbrück
New Zealand's Rosara Joseph and German Moritz Milatz won round three
of the German MTB-Bundesliga series in Saalhausen last weekend. Joseph
finished ahead of a surprising young Silke Schmidt. Milatz defeated Christoph
Soukup and Wolfram Kurschat.
In women's race Joseph (Ghost International) and Enaux (Lapierre) took
the lead after the second of six laps. Together they held a gap of less
than one minute to U23 racer Silke Schmidt (Fujibikes), who was having
a good day.
Joseph waited until the beginning of the last lap. Then she forced the
pace on the climb and got a gap, which she maintained until the end. "I
really enjoyed the race. It was great to be here," said Joseph. "When
I realized that I got the gap, I tried hold it." It was her first
New Zealand's Rosara Joseph (GHOST
Photo ©: Armin M. Küstenbrück
Enaux said she had "no good legs" after intense training the
days prior. But despite that, she held her lead in the overall. While
going better than expected, Ivonne Kraft was suffering backaches.
In the men's race a group of three emerged in the lead after two laps.
Milatz (Multivan-Merida), Soukup (Fujibikes) and Kurschat (Topeak-Ergon)
extended their lead lap by lap, but on the third lap, Kurschat encountered
technical problems with his fork. He lost contact on the downhills and
would close again on the uphills. But this strategy only worked only until
lap five, which was the same lap when Soukup flatted his front wheel and
fell behind Kurschat.
That left Milatz alone in front, and he extended his lead up to 1'50".
Soukup was unable to catch Kurschat. Milatz crossed the line and celebrated
his first Bundesliga victory ever.
"I felt really good," said Milatz. "[I'm] sorry for Christoph,
I would have liked to compete with him.
Soukup said he felt Milatz was riding "very strong" but he
himself was slowed by training after worlds, where he had finished sixth.
"I hope the next week at German Nationals I can show it during the
whole race," said the hopeful third place finisher Kurschat.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the German
MTB-Bundesliga series in Saalhausen.
Germans finalized for Olympic team
Photo ©: Robin Haake
Although he only considered his odds 50/50, Moritz Milatz (Multivan-Merida)
was named Tuesday by the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (German Cycling Federation)
to the German Olympic team and will head to Beijing.
"I felt good in recent weeks about my chances for Olympic participation,"
said Milatz, who is fresh off a victory at the latest
Bundesliga round in Saalhausen. "Only this morning [before the
selection was announced], I was pretty nervous and I was no longer so
"But now I am even more enthusiastic ever since I received the positive
message from national coach Frank Brueckner. I will be overseas racing
in North America to finalize my optimal Olympic preparation and then I'll
head to Beijing to do my best!"
"I am delighted that it has worked out for me. I was relatively
hopeful the whole time, but all the same, a doubt remained. I can hardly
wait," said Olympic team-mate-to-be Wolfram Kurschat (Topeak Ergon)
after learning the news of his selection.
"If I am able to continue to build my form like I plan to, I believe
I can finish in the top ten in Beijing," said Kurschat, who was unsure
of his selection after illness slowed him down earlier this season.
Milatz and Kurschat join Manuel Fumic on the men's squad while Sabine
Spitz (Central Ghost) and Adelheid Morath have been picked for the women's
The German stars will contest their national championship this weekend
at St. Märgen in the Black Forest.
"This is the only important race for me before Beijing. I will work
extremely hard to retain the title as I think the colours suit me,"
said Kurschat, grinning.
Toulouse surprises Craig in final lap at Windham
By Dave McElwaine in Windham, New York
Mathieu Toulouse (Maxxis) beats
Adam Craig (Giant)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
Mathieu Toulouse (Maxxis) pulled off the upset of the season by slicing
through the field for three laps, then taking on US National Champion
Adam Craig (Giant) in an epic half-lap battle. Craig, known for his descending
prowess, could not make up enough time on the final descent to get by
The cross country race, National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) round #5
in Windham, New York, was decided in an exciting final sprint to the line
where Toulouse won by a foot. Toulouse's team-mate and series leader Geoff
Kabush did not race at Windham in order to prepare for the upcoming World
Cup race in Canada.
Toulouse was not a factor early in the race as he not only had a poor
starting grid, but also got caught up in a log jam where the racers first
entered singletrack. "It's a fire road start and bottles up pretty quick,"
said Toulouse. "I had to get off my bike. I had to start slow also because
it was pretty hot but it worked out pretty well for me.
"I kept it under control and just rode it like a time trial," he added.
"This is the best kind of course for me, climbing and east coast singletrack."
Jeremiah Bishop (Trek / VW) was leading the race as it entered the final
climb, but dropped down to third by the finish line. Sam Jurekovic (U-23
National Team) finished fourth, his second XC podium this season, while
Sam Schultz (Gary Fisher/Subaru) had his best finish in fifth place.
Todd Wells (GT/Pacific) winning
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
"I cramped," explained Bishop of his tumble down the standings. "I got
a bottle [at the feed zone], took a sip, and it slipped right out of my
With temperatures in the high 80s with high humidity, most of the racers
felt that the weather was a significant factor in the race. "Jeremiah
[Bishop] had me with one lap to go then we came back together," said Craig.
"I was trying not to ride as hard as I could since I'm pretty roasted
from training a bunch. Then Matt came through on the last climb and it
was time to get that 140 percent work, which I did."
When Bishop and Craig headed up the hill the last time, everyone assumed
that the race would be determined by a blazing fast descent. Both are
among the best descenders in the business. With Toulouse and Jurekovic
40 seconds behind the leaders, it seemed impossible that anyone but Craig
or Bishop could win. When the final sprint took place, even the race announcer
was fooled into thinking that Bishop was involved.
The new cross country course at Windham Mountain became an instant hit
with the racers. "That is a hard, proper, mountain bike course," said
Other winners of the weekend included Georgia Gould (women's XC), Katerina
Nash (women's STXC), Todd Wells (men's STXC), Joanna Petterson (women's
DH), Kieran Bennett (men's DH), Adam Craig (men's Super D) and Wendy Simms
(women's Super D),
See Cyclingnews' full coverage, including all pro and amateur
events, of the NMBS
#5 round in Windham, New York.
Subaru Team excels at European Championship
The Subaru Team stood on the top two steps of the podium at the European
Downhill Championships last weekend in Caspoggio in Valmalenco, Italy.
Florent Payet was crowned European downhill champion and his team-mate
Damien Spagnolo took second place. Nick Beer finished third.
Two days of torrential rain prior to the race and the morning of the
final made conditions difficult. The track length was reduced the morning
of the final due to the risk of lightning on the top of the mountain.
Payet put in a strong run to put himself firmly in the hotseat. Spagnolo
started his run with an aggressive start and unclipped both pedals losing
some time, but he managed to recover well and put in a smooth fast run
Frenchwoman Sabrina Jonnier won the women's race ahead of Petra Bernhard
(Austria) and Floriane Pugin (France).
See full results
from the European Downhill Championships.
Schurter & Lechner win Swisspower Cup round
U23 World champion Nino Schurter (Swisspower) won the elite race in Savognin,
Switzerland, in difficult conditions ahead of Mathias Flückiger (Athleticum
MTB Team) and Martin Gujan (Athleticum MTB Team). Pouring rain caused
officials to shorten the race. Eva Lechner (Colnago) won the women's race
ahead of Petra Henzi (Fischer-BMC) and Nathalie Schneitter (Colnago).
Schurter went away from the gun with his team-mate Florian Vogel. In
the third lap, a fatigued Vogel abandoned. That left Swisspower Cup leader
Gujan to hold second place for a long time, riding solo, but on the final
section, Flückiger passed him for second. Schurter stayed in control
at the front and celebrated his win in front of a lot of spectators who
came out in spite of the rain.
"It was hard, particularly with these conditions," said winner
In the women's race, Lechner won by thirty seconds over Henzi and three
minutes over Schneitter, who finished second at the U23 women's world
A knee injury kept Olympic Champion Julien Absalon from starting while
former world champion Russian Irina Kalentieva cancelled her participation
on short notice due to a problem with her retina which required an urgent
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Swisspower
Cup in Savognin.
Jongewaard secures Olympic nomination
Australian mountain biker Chris Jongewaard looks set to ride the Beijing
Olympics after Cycling Australia accepted the findings of an Appeals Tribunal
and nominated him for its Olympic team. Jongewaard, Australia's highest
ranked mountain biker, was not originally nominated for the Olympic Games
due to involvement in a pending court case, but successfully
appealed the decision last week.
The ruling was passed to the Cycling Australia High Performance Management
Committee (HPMC), which met Monday via tele-conference and decided to
nominate Jongewaard to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) in place
of previously selected Daniel McConnell.
In making its decision, the HPMC acknowledged an item from the Appeals
Tribunal which stated: "HPMC did not have enough material to rely
upon to exercise its decision as to whether it honestly believed Jongewaard
had met all the requirements of the Selection Criteria and thereby, had
failed to properly implement the criteria."
A further legal issue stated that Cycling Australia could only reach
a decision on the conduct of an athlete after the AOC President has exercised
his discretion. In response to this Cycling Australia noted that "a
successful defence in any subsequent hearing could not be assured".
Jongewaard is due to answer charges later this year regarding a hit-and-run
incident, in which he allegedly stuck training partner Matthew Rex,
leaving Rex with head injuries and in a medically-induced coma for 12
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.
Harrington and Widmer win inaugural Cardiac Classic
Racers had no shortage of climbing
Photo ©: Volodya Gusak
First-year event West Coast Racing's Cardiac Classic's cross country
was held at Burnaby Mountain in British Columbia, Canada, where Stefan
Widmer (Rocky Mtn- K Capital Source) and Joanna Harrington won the elite
men's and women's races.
Many of BC's fastest women came out to play with Dawn Berg of Oak Bay
Bikes / Everti handily scooping up the first lap hill climb cash prime
for pros, before bringing home a second place overall finish on the day
behind Aussie Harrington.
"It was very hard," said Berg. "They were tough climbs
on a very hot day. The downhill was also fantastic. It was nice and technical,
which made you stay focused and it left you with some adrenaline if you
took things too fast!"
The Island Racing Club's Joele Guynup, who wound up her day two positions
back from Berg after an epic battle with Melanie Vaughan of Steed Cycles.
Vaughan eventually claimed the final spot on the elite women's podium
with a scant one second lead.
Stefan Widmer of Rocky Mountain - K Capital Source p/b Different Bikes
brought home the biggest haul of the day in the elite men's race, first
nailing down hill climb cash prime and then executing an intelligently
managed effort to hold off a stern challenge from Colin Kerr of Different
Bikes and collect the lion's share of the cash prize purse, too.
Kerr held tough throughout what became a two-man battle with Widmer,
who recently concluded a breakthrough campaign that saw him finish third
in the 2008 Canada Cup national mountain bike series. Widmer's team-mate
Kevin Calhoun rounded out the podium.
"The race was really tough," said Widmer. "A ton of climbing
and some challenging descending." Course designers had laid out a
challenge which put the pro men through 5,300 feet of cumulative elevation
gain and loss over the relatively short distance of 31km.
"I went off the front at the start of the race to ensure that I
would get the hill climb prime, but then Colin quickly got back on my
wheel in the singletrack," said Widmer. "In fact, in the next
two laps, Colin and I would climb together but he would continually ride
the descents quicker then me putting a good 10-15 seconds into me each
lap which I would have to make up at the start of the next climb. Knowing
this, I pulled away on the last lap at the top of Cardiac Hill ensuring
that I would get a gap on him and enter the singletrack first. After that,
I kept it steady on the last climb and brought home my first ever BC Cup
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Cardiac
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