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MTB news & racing round-up for July 19, 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

Next NUE Series stop: Breckenridge 100

By Sue George

Josh Tostado, three-time winner of the Breckenridge 100
Photo ©: Liam Doran
(Click for larger image)

Breckenridge will host stop number four of the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series in Colorado. The fourth annual Breckenridge 100 will happen Saturday, July 19, beginning and ending in Carter Park, and will feature 100 mile race over three unique loops including backcountry trails, doubletrack, dirt roads and bike paths. Racers will cross the Continental Divide three times, climb 11,000 foot passes and forge high mountain streams.

The men's race is shaping up to be a battle between local resident Josh Tostado (Smith Optics) and Evan Plews (Capitol Subaru/Scott USA). Tostado has won the event the last three years, holds the course record of 9:03:08, and knows the high-altitude course well with his hometown advantage. He is ranked 11th currently in the NUE series.

Plews, who is sitting in second place in the overall NUE standings, will be looking for a win after a poorly timed flat a few weeks ago cost him a chance at the US Marathon National Championships, also held in Breckenridge on July 4.

Josh Tostado, three-time winner of the Breckenridge 100
Photo ©: Liam Doran
(Click for larger image)

Notably absent from the race are NUE series leader Jeff Schalk as well as third and fourth places in the standings, Chris Eatough and Harlan Price. Some East Coast racers may be choosing to attend the closer US National Championships in Mount Snow, Vermont, this weekend.

In the women's race, local Cat Morrison is the favorite. She won the Montezuma's Revenge the last time it was held, in 2006. The top three in the women's standings, Cheryl Sornson, Laureen Coffelt, Cricket Butler were not registered at the time of writing.

The Breckenridge 100 is also part of both a regional ultra series, and it will raise money for the TAME Foundation's hippotherapy program. Promoters are hosting a 32 mile race, new for this year, and a 68 mile race in addition to the 100 miler.

"This race course harkens back to the old school of mountain biking, where riders explored high alpine terrain, backcountry trails and dirt roads," said Thane Wright, Event Director. "Our goal is to provide a unique and rewarding experience in cross country competition. Racers will be both pampered and pushed to their limit."

Team Bulls ready to defend TransAlp title

The TransAlp race
Photo ©: TransAlp
(Click for larger image)

The 11th Jeantex Bike Transalp will kick off on Saturday, July 19 in Fuessen, Kemptenerstraße corner of Gluecksstraße in Germany. In eight days, 550 teams of two including pros as well as amateurs will pedal 665.40 kilometres and face 21,691 metres in elevation gain across the Alps. On their way to the traditional finish in Riva del Garda on July 26, the participants will stop also in Austria and Switzerland.

Last year's winners are among the starters. At the 10th anniversary race in 2007, Germany's Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm took home an impressive victory. This year their mission will be to keep the title. "When I show up at the Transalp there is only one goal for me! I want to win the race," said Platt, who will be contesting his eighth edition of the race.

The start list features a colourful mix from 46 nations and includes some well known top guns who may be able to play a major role. Besides Austria's Martin Kraler and Heinz Verbnjak from Craft & Friends, the Fiat-Rotwild pairing with Austrian Silvio Wieltschnig and German Thomas Nicke and Vaude-Simplon 1's Andreas Strobel and Markus Kaufmann of Germany may be able to jump onto the podium. In addition, last year's third place Alexander Pscheidl and Christian Schneidawind from the German Team Texpa-Simplon and their fellow countrymen Carsten Bresser and Daniel Gathof from Rocky Mountain are on the list.

But for the most of the 1,100 starters who range from 16 to 70 years-old, there is one major goal: to finish at Lake Garda. On their way from Fuessen to Riva del Garda, the Transalp circus will stop in Imst and Ischgl in Austria, Scuol in Switzerland and Italian stage towns Livigno, Kaltern, Naturns and Andalo. The route will cross 20 saddles including the highest, the Bocchetta di Forcola (2,769 m) with its climb of 700m.

Racers from countries like Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Libya, Costa Rica, Japan, Russia, South Africa, Singapore and the USA will take off at 10:00 am Saturday to the sound of AC/DC's "Highway to Hell".

Vogel a favorite for Swiss nationals

Florian Vogel (Switzerland)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

With Christoph Sauser off preparing for the Olympics and Ralph Näf taking a break from racing, Florian Vogel (Swisspower) is the men's favorite for the Swiss National Championship in Seon this weekend July 19-20. Athleticum team racers Lukas Flückiger and Martin Gujan will provide a tough challenge for Vogel.

In the U23 category, the favorite is World Champion and Swiss Olympic team member Nino Schurter (Swiss Power). His biggest challenger is likely Matthias Flückiger (Athleticum).

Petra Henzi and Nathalie Schneitter are the top picks in the women's and U23 race. Look out for Matthias Rupp and Vivienne Meyer in the junior categories.

The grassy, flat start / finish will be in the courtyard Egliswil. After 500m the course goes into wooded hills with ups and downs. Much of the route is in the woods with technically demanding sections like drops and jumps.

Absalon to defend French national title

Orbea's Julien Absalon is prepared to defend his French national championship title on Saturday in the town of Cher Chevalier. Absalon has previously won the title seven times.

He is extra motivated this time around because if he wins the title, he will finally be able to race in the national championship jersey. "I haven't been able to wear it because I was U23 and elite world champion." He was the elite champion for the past four years, from 2004 to 2007, until last month when Christoph Sauser took the 2008 title in Val di Sole, Italy.

Team-mate Jean Christophe Peraud is coming off a win in the national road championship a few weeks ago. He's never won a national mountain bike title and will be battling Absalon for the honor. Cedric Ravanel is another favorite for the win.

Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, the United States and Canada are just some of the other countries holding National Championships this weekend.

World Champion Fullana readying for Olympics

Margarita Fulla (Massi) on the podium
Photo ©: Some Bloke
(Click for larger image)

World Champion Marga Fullana (Massi) started the final stage of her preparation for the Olympic Games with a Spanish Open race in the town of Elche last weekend. Heat was a factor in the competition - something likely to also play a role in Bejing.

Fullana won her event with enough of a margin that she could take the slippery descents at a less risky pace, and she finished in just over one and a quarter hours - a relatively short race for her, but a good, intense effort nonetheless.

Next up for her is the BTT Pratxedis 2008 and then preparation at home before departing for Beijing, China, on August 11. She'll spend some time there before the Olympic race getting used to local conditions. In between photo sessions and TV interviews, Fullana will continue to focus her energy on the upcoming Olympic Games. High intensity training will be a focus.

Haywood retiring

Sue Haywood (Trek / VW) at the Cape Epic
Photo ©: Sven Martin
(Click for larger image)

This weekend will mark the retirement from active Olympic distance cross country and World Cup racing by Sue Haywood (Trek/VW). A former national US champion, she has competed at a high level domestically and at World Cup races for many years.

"I'm still gonna race the rest of the year, but it seemed like a good place with everyone there to have a little closing," said Haywood of her plans for the weekend's racing at Mount Snow, Vermont.

She will continue racing for the rest of the season, mostly attending longer events. "I'm going to do a few 100 milers and I may do the NMBS Finals [in Utah] and the stage race in Brianhead the weekend before."

When asked what's next, she said, "I don't know. I don't have any plans yet." Looking back she reflected thoughtfully, "I didn't expect to be doing this [professional racing] for ten years after all."

Haywood won the US National Short Track Championship in 2001, 2003 and 2006. Earlier this spring she finished second at the Cape Epic with Trek/VW team-mate Jenny Smith. She's also been a member of the winning team at Moab in 2001 and 2002, won the 2006 24 Hours of Adrenaline World Championship in Conyers, Georgia, and won the 2007 La Ruta.

Seventh TransRockies less than a month away

Two racers among beautiful scenery
Photo ©: TransRockies
(Click for larger image)

The seventh edition of the TransRockies, which takes place in Canada's Rocky Mountains, is less than one month away. Starting August 10 in Panorama Mountain Village, British Columbia, 500 riders from more than 30 countries will tackle a longer, revised course. The race runs through Saturday, August 16 and ends in Fernie.

In 2007, forest fires caused the course to be changed to include an extra night at Nipika Mountain resort while the planned overnight stop in Alberta had to be cancelled. This year's route includes both the extra night in Nipika, which was popular with riders, along with a return to the Crowsnest Pass region of Southwestern Alberta.

The heavy snow season in 2007-2008 has been a mixed blessing for TransRockies organizers. On the one hand, it means that final route mapping and measurement is just underway but it also means that this should be a relatively safe year for dry forest conditions and that route integrity will be maintained from planning to event.

The peloton rolls
Photo ©: TransRockies
(Click for larger image)

What is certain is that the final route will include more singletrack thanks to new routing on days one, two, three and six along with a longer day seven route. Final numbers will be released before the event.

Registration for the 2009 event will open the day after this year's event finishes. Past participants will be given priority: 2008 participants can begin 2009 sign-up starting at the closing banquet while other past race participants can sign up online starting on Sunday, August 17. General registration will open on Monday, August 18.

Last year's event was won by Canadians Tim Heemskerk and Roddi Lega of United Cycle Team and Americans Hillary Harrison and Susan Haywood of Trek VW - Giant

For more information, visit www.transrockies.com.

15th Iron Bike coming up this weekend

The 15th edition of the Iron Bike will start this weekend on July 19 and run through July 26 over 650km and eight days and 22,000m of climbing. The race will be without Sandra Klomp, who won Iron Bike from 2004 to 2007.

Giovanni Maiello, who has won the 21st edition of Marathon and Mediofondo Fausto Coppi, will be at the starting line along with 150 racers from 18 different countries and five continents. Team InfoTre Lee Cougan will also be represented by Filippo Barazzuol.

July 19: Entracque (Prologue)
July 20: Entracque - San Damiano Macra
July 21: San Damiano Macra - Jausiers (France)
July 22: Jausiers - Barge
July 23: Barge - Torre Pellice
July 24: Torre Pellice - Pragelato
July 25: Pragelato - Cesana
July 26: Cesana - Sauze d'Oulx

For more information visit www.ironbike.it.

Goss re-signs with Race Face

Pro shredder Wayne Goss to its factory team resigned with Race Face Components, Inc. for another two years.

"We're ecstatic to have Wayne on board for another two years," said Race Face’s Julian Coffey. "We've had a long and successful association with Wayne and it's been very satisfying to see him develop into one of the sport's premiere athletes. All of us are looking forward to what the future holds for him."

Race Face originally signed Goss in August 2004, after his convincing UFC win. Shortly thereafter, he penned long term deals with Cannondale and the Cut team. Goss has appeared in Freeride Entertainment's New World Disorder series and finished ninth at Qashqai Madrid last year.

El reto del Quetzal gets new route

Finishers celebrate
Photo ©: El Reto del Quetzal
(Click for larger image)

Organizers announced a new route for the El Reto del Quetzal set for October 3-5. The three-day event will run from Antigua Guatemala to Retalhuleu on the Pacific Coast, traversing some beautiful areas of Guatemala. As of early July, the race was 60% sold out with riders signed up from Ecuador, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and the USA.

Last year's event was won by Costa Rica's Deiber Esquivel and Yonathan Carballo (Endurance-IBP) while Americans Susan Haywood and Lea Davison (Trek-VW) were the fastest women.

For more information, visit www.elretodelquetzal.com

Summer of Shred partners with Wheels4Life

Wheels4Life, the charity started by mountain biking legend Hans Rey, has joined forces with Phil Sundbaum and the Summer Of Shred. Rey will be joining Sundbaum for a Summer of Shred tour stop in Tanzania at the end of August. The two riders will ride together through the Pare
Mountains and safari through some of Africa's most epic terrain.

In preparation for the trip, Summer Of Shred has developed a program to support Wheels4Life, which will be called "Flips4Life". Companies and individuals can support the project by pledging money for each backflip that Phil Sundbaum does during the months of July and August. A counter of Sundbaum's backflips will be posted on the Summer Of Shred website (www.summerofshred.com) and will be updated daily with his progress through the month.

The money that is raised through "Flips4Life" will be donated directly to Wheels4Life, which delivers bicycles to Africa. The pair will then hand-deliver the bicycles to villagers during their Summer Of Shred tour through Tanzania.

To support the project, email flips4life@summerofshred.com.

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