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MTB news & racing round-up for July 25, 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

World Cup racing resumes at Mont-Sainte-Anne

By Sue George

American Adam Craig (Giant) at last year's Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup
Photo ©: PhotoSport International
(Click for larger image)

After more than a month off the World Cup Circuit, racers will return for the next round in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, Canada. For cross country racers, it will be round six and for gravity racers, round four. Mont-Sainte-Anne is just 40km from Quebec City, which just celebrated earlier this month the 400th anniversary of its founding by Samuel de Champlain.

Although a North American World Cup entails extra travel for racers from Europe, many will make the trip, especially with the next World Cup in Bromont, Quebec one week later.

The last round of the World Cup was contested in Fort William, Scotland, the first week of June. During the break in the World Cup schedule, racers have been busy at the World Championships in Val di Sole, Italy, and many have also been contesting their national championships, too.

Mont-Sainte-Anne is the only venue to have hosted either a World Cup or World Championship every year since the UCI's first mountain bike calendar in 1991. It will again host the World Championships in 2010. It is part of a three-week festival known as Velirium, which also includes the Canadian National Championships and Quebec Cup racing. More than 2,500 athletes are expected to compete.

Rafael Alvarez De Lara Lu (Spain)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Racing action will kick off with the 4X. Riders will qualify on Friday evening and compete in the finals on Saturday evening. World champions Melissa Buhl and Rafael Alvarez De Lara Luca are the clear favourites going into the race.

In the women's 4X race, American Buhl will see tough challenge from Dutch woman Anneke Beerten, who is ranked number one in the world, Austrian Anita Molcik and Japan's Mio Suemesa. Not yet on the start list, Czech's Jana Horakova could also challenge for a medal. And wouldn't be a surprise if some downhill stars like Sabrina Jonnier decided to also race the 4X.

On the men's side Spaniard Alvarez de Lara Luca will face France's young Romain Saladin, Dutchman Joost Wichman and Germany's Guido Tschugg. Former World Champion and American Brian Lopes is believed to be skipping this round while attending the Kenda Festival in Massachusetts.

Gravity racers will see plenty of action Saturday as downhillers will undertake qualifying and finals in the same day on a 3.1km course dropping 650m. The Atherton siblings Gee and Rachel will be looking to repeat their World Championship-winning performances. They sit first and second respectively in the men's and women's world rankings.

Unlike the gravity disciplines, many of the cross country contenders will have their sights firmly set on the Olympic Games in Beijing, China, next month. That means some of the fastest racers will not be focused on a top result at Mont-Sainte-Anne as a top priority goal, but no doubt many of them will be in fine form with just a few weeks to go before the big day in China. There will also be a collection of racers not going to the Olympics who will be giving it 100% for a chance at a World Cup medal.

North Americans historically do better in the Canadian World Cups than the European World Cups, so look out for a possible surprise break-out or even career-best World Cup performance from a young Canadian or American racer.

Cross country racers will compete on a 6.3km course with three major climbs and several smaller ones. Each lap begins with a substantial climb to separate the strong from the not-so-strong.

Read the complete preview of all events, including 4X, downhill and cross country and stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup all weekend.

Wilderness 101 takes over central Pennsylvania for NUE series fifth stop

By Harlan Price

Brandon Draugelis (Bear Naked Cannondale) racing the 2007 Wilderness 101
Photo ©: Chris Scott
(Click for larger image)

The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) Series returns to the East coast and its lower elevations after sending riders into the clouds at the Breckenridge 100 last weekend. The eighth annual Wilderness 101 will run this weekend on Saturday, July 26, out of the sleepy town park of Coburn, Pennsylvania. More racers than ever are signed on to tackle the hills and singletrack of the Rothrock and Bald Eagle State Forests.

More than three hundred racers will line up to participate in the longest-running mountain bike 100 miler in the country. First run in 1991, the "101" helped establish the standard by which most 100 milers are judged. Promoter Chris Scott in conjunction with Mt. Nittany Wheelworks have been running the race since 2001 on mostly the same single loop course, but this year riders can expect slight route alterations due to safety concerns and power-line construction.

Four of the top five men contending for the NUE series win will be on the start line saddled up next to three of the top women. Jeff Schalk (Trek / VW) is the man dominating the series in his first full year on the circuit. He has effectively cut previous series champions Chris Eatough (Trek / VW) and Harlan Price (IFracing.org) from the top podium spot and only has to continue his winning way in one more of the four remaining races to secure the overall win.

The question is whether Eatough's and Price's course knowledge will be an advantage over Schalk's strength. Michigan riders Michael Simonson (Trek / VW) and Christian Tanguy (American Bicycle and Fitness), currently fifth in the series, will also be on hand to strengthen their series positions. Missing from the equation will be current NUE series second place Evan Plews (Scott/ Capitol Subaru) and Breckenridge 100 winner Josh Tostado.

Betsy Shogren won the 2007 "101"
Photo ©: Chris Scott
(Click for larger image)

In the women's race, expect to see series leader Cheryl Sornson (Trek VW) and local Michelle Stopper (Visit PA) go toe to toe. Last year's series winner Carey Lowery (Outdoor Store) will also be on hand to keep everyone worried. Unsure of her racing status is last year's 101 winner Betsy Shogren (Cannondale/ Sobe), who recently suffered a wrist injury. If she can ride, the rest of the field will be marking her moves. The women's NUE series podium is still very much up in the air - waiting for someone to emerge as a dominate force. If no one steps up at the 101, the outcome may remain unknown until the final race of the series.

Among the singlespeeders, Dejay Birtch (Niner) will be trying to hold on to his first place position, while his travel partner John "Fuzzy" Myline (Shoair/Rock N' Road/Niner) will be looking to swoop in on his spot. Don't be surprised to see newly crowned Semi-pro National Champion and Pennsylvania resident Weston Schempf (Visit PA) in there dicing it up with the series leaders for the singlespeed win.

Perhaps the most inspirational of the racers will be the master's men with their own battle to prove age is of no matter. Previous series winner John Majors (Griffin Interior) has inspired a new onslaught on elder statesmen to come out to challenge. Greg Turner and Scott Root are making short work of the top two positions, but consistency is the name of the game and those with the experience understand this key element to the game.

Most riders will camp in the quaint Coburn city park, which doubles as the start and finish of the single-lap race. Racers will be treated to dinner and beer the night after the race underneath the pavilion.

Last year's event was won by Jeremiah Bishop and Betsy Shogren.

2008 Hall of Fame inductees selected

The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame & Museum in Crested Butte, Colorado, named its 2008 inductees: mountain biking's earliest pioneer John Finley Scott, East coast mountain bike advocate Philip Keyes, Oakley's mountain bike go-to guy Steve Blick, suspension pioneer and bicycle designer Bob Girvin and pro racers Brian Lopes and Nat Ross.

The new members will be inducted on Wednesday, September 24 at 6:00 pm in a ceremony held during the Interbike Trade Show at the Sand's Expo and Convention Center immediately following the first day of the indoor show. All Interbike attendees and the public are invited.

The first ten people were inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988 and each year since, three to seven more have been selected. The 2008 selections bring the number of Hall of Fame inductees to 107 individuals plus four groups.

24 hour racers head to Canmore

Twenty-four hour racers will head to the Canmore Nordic Center in the Rocky Mountains of Canada for the 24 hours of Adrenalin World Championships this weekend on July 26-27. For its 10th edition, the championship race is returning to its roots - the site of the first championship event. 200 solo racers and 1,450 team racers are expected to compete on a fan-friendly, athlete-challenging figure-eight course.

Among those registered are Tinker Juarez (Monaviecannondale.com), Gary Buxton (Rebound), Craig Peacock (Flight Center), Leighton Poidevin (Banff Lodging Co.), Johnny Waddell (Santa Cruz Syndicate), Gavin Rossouw (Specialized), Wendy Skean (Hammer Nutrition) and Margie Smith (Wilson Mountain Sports.

Zoli wins third Italian title

Giant Italia's Yader Zoli won his third Italian national cross country title in Grotte di Castro, Italy, last weekend.

On the opening lap, Zoli was joined by five others. By the second lap, the leader were down to just three including Zoli, Andrea Tiberi, and Johnny Cattaneo. Tiberi often set the pace, but it was Zoli who went off the front for a solo win. It was his third consecutive national title. Cattaneo finished second and Tiberi ended up third.

Marco Aurelio Fontana and Tony Longo were among those afflicted by hot weather and technical problems. Fontana pulled out at the halfway point. He and Zoli will represent Italy at the Olympic Games next month.

Osl sisters go one-two in Austria

Team Ghost International's Elisabeth Osl won the Austrian national cross country championships last weekend in a time of 1'30"41. It was her third national title, taken on seven laps of a 3.6 km race run under humid conditions. Her sister Maria Osl finished second. The sisters will head to Canada for the World Cups the next two weekends in Mont-Sainte-Anne and Bromont.

Gunn-Rita Dahle FlesjŚ diary: Ready for Canadian World Cups

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa
Photo ©: Kenneth and Gunn-Rita Dahle FlesjŚ
(Click for larger image)

The final test for me before the Olympics will be two World Cup races here in Canada. There are amazingly many different races and programs to take part in during the final preparation period before the Olympics, but most of my competitors will be taking part here at Mt. Sainte Anne in a few days from now.

We've been here for almost a week already, and are gradually beginning to get used to the high humidity and the time difference of six hours. I usually wake up early in the morning anyway, but it's been rather too early these first few days here. It's getting better though. We've had varying weather conditions this first week with rain in the afternoons. Today the weather is reasonably good with occasional glimpses of sun.

The Canadian National Championships were held here at Mt Sainte Anne yesterday, so we were able to ride two laps before the first start at 9:00 a.m. Today it's the Quebec Cup first, and then there'll be a cross country race this afternoon with only us two taking part. It's going to be incredibly tough because I feel quite worn out from all the training, so it's not going to be easy to beat Kenneth today.

We've been training very well these past two weeks, with lots of intervals and great long distance stints, so my body is feeling a little heavy now. I recovered quickly after the World Championship triumph, which was a good thing. From tomorrow, I'm focussing on relaxed training and then it's back to a standard World Cup week regarding number of hours and intensity of the training.

Read the complete diary entry.

More carbon and new shocks for 2009 Trek Fuel EX

By John Stevenson, BikeRadar.com

Trek's new Fuel EX 9.9
Photo ©: Geoff Waugh
(Click for larger image)

Trek Bicycles unveiled the 2009 version of its Fuel EX line of trail mountain bikes in Durango, Colorado, with an all-new full-carbon bike headlining a revamped range that Trek says is lighter and stiffer than its predecessors. Trek mountain bike product manager John Riley explained that the new carbon bike sprung from an effort to meld the stiffness of previous aluminum Fuel EXes with the light weight of the 2008 carbon bike - and to beat the weight of previous versions.

Aimed at general mountain biking and in particular endurance racing, the top-of-the-line 2009 Fuel EX 9.9 has a claimed weight of 10.66kg (23.5lb), on a 2.2kg (4.96lb) frame (with shock).

Several new technologies have helped get the bike under 24lb such as the 'net moulding' technique borrowed from the new Madone that directly integrates bearing seats for the suspension pivots and 95mm-wide BB95 bottom bracket shell.

Net moulding saves weight by eliminating aluminium hard points but the BB95 design also allows for a larger down tube, stiffening the frame against lateral and torsional flex. At the front end, Trek's E2 head tube with 1 1/2in lower bearing also provides more space for a big down tube. The practical upshot is a 28 percent stiffer frame on Trek's axle to axle test, Riley said.

Top-end Fuels also get an OCLV moulded carbon link instead of the previous Fuel's magnesium unit which saves 35g. The total upshot is that the 2008 carbon frame weighed 2450g; the 2009 is down to 2,238g.

Read the complete review and stay tuned for an upcoming review of the all-new Top Fuel cross-country racer.

NorCal High School MTB Racing League hiring

The California-based NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League announced two new job openings. The organization is hiring an Assistant Executive Director (salary US$45,000 plus benefits) and an Administrative Assistant (salary $30,000 plus benefits). Submit resume with cover letter, both in pdf format, to Vanessa Hauswald at vanessa.hauswald@gmail.com. Cover letter should describe how this job fits in with your current career path. For more information, visit www.norcalmtb.org/temporary/asst_dir.pdf and www.norcalmtb.org/temporary/admin_asst.pdf.

Watch Valley Cup to Tchérattes

The seventh round of the Watch Valley Bike Cup heads to Tchérattes on Saturday. With two consecutive victories in the Watch Valley Bike Cup, Caroline Scheffel Barth will try for a third in Tchérattes. She will be challenged by second place in the standings, team-mate Gabrielle Mosset. New Zealand's Nicole Swain will also be on hand to do battle.

For the men, the overall championship remains open. Except for the Arnon Bike race won by Nicolas Rohrbach, Nicolas Lüthi and Joris Boillat have shared the other wins. Boillat will be looking to avoid his misadventure of last year when he bonked just a short way from the finish. For more information, visit www.tcherattes.ch.

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