MTB news & racing round-up for June 12, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Premont captures first World Cup victory
By Luke Webber in Fort William
Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
Marie Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain), overall leader of the World Cup
series, has always finished consistently. Podiums at every event have
put her amongst the best, if not the most feared. But her victory in the
cross country at Fort William in Scotland left everyone with something
to think about heading into the second half of the season.
After a fast start on yet another perfect day in Fort William, Premont
and Marga Fullana (Massi) both distanced themselves from the chasers.
Neither looked likely to be caught but on the downhill it was obvious
Premont wanted to get into clearer air. On lap two she got that break
but it came to nothing. Fullana was too strong, countering on the brutal
climb and making a gap of her own.
Premont was patient though, waiting for the time when Fullana would tire
which eventually came on the final lap. With nowhere to hide Premont overtook
her competitor on the upper slopes and attacked again on the downhill
without fear of repercussion and claim her first victory of the year.
After the race Premont spoke about the closing stages. "I took some
risks on the final downhill, I had to," she said. "On lap two
I tried to get away but when Marga could follow me she could keep up but
not on the final lap. I'm really happy that I have finally won a race.
Marga was very strong today I knew it was her kind of course and I had
to stay with her if I was to get a result.
"The longer I could stay on her wheel the better, but on lap three
she got a gap," said Premont. "I kept trying though and on the
last lap I gave it everything I had. I knew I was faster on the downhill
but it was not easy. Tomorrow I go back home to train and rest for the
worlds where I can hopefully keep my good form going."
In the elite men's cross country, the podium was an all Swiss affair
with Florian Vogel (Swisspower Mtb Team) winning in a time of 2.06.27.
Nino Schurter (Swisspower Mtb Team) and Christoph Sauser (Specialized
Factory Racing) rounded out the top three after the two Swisspower team-mates
worked over the lone Specialized racer.
With the Worlds and Olympics just around the corner Vogel explained why
the Swiss riders were so strong, "Right now we are in the selection for
the Olympics, too, and that is what is producing so many [good] rides;
we all want in and it's so competitive."
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the elite
women's and elite
men's cross country World Cup.
Tough luck tests Merida in Fort William
Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (Multvan
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
At the World Cup in Fort William, tough luck kept José Hermida
and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå (Multivan Merida) from scoring top finishes.
Dahle Flesjå lost a brake lever in the first lap of her race, while
Hermida suffered a flat as he made part of a lead group early on in the
After a tangle in the first lap Dahle Flesjå lost one of her brake
levers, forcing her to ride the first lap without a rear brake, which
cost her several positions on the long downhill after a good start. At
the repair zone, team mechanic Ralph Tiede showed a record-worthy performance.
Within less than a minute, he dismounted a brake lever from a back-up
bike and mounted it on the Norwegian's bike. The quick intervention allowed
Dahle Flesjå a chance to catch up from 39th and still finish eighth.
Gunn Rita Dahle-Flesjaa (Multivan
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
For Dahle Flesjå, this mishap was kind of a déja-vu experience:
In 2006, the Norwegian suffered a flat tire in the first lap on the same
course only to catch up with the entire field from way back. Back then,
she finished in fourth position. Speaking of this year's misfortune, she
said, "That really was a lot of tough luck here, but it can happen.
The fast lap times have shown me that I might have finished way up front
under normal circumstances though."
Hermida was riding in a lead group together with podium finishers Christoph
Sauser, Florian Vogel and Nino Schurter. But he was dropped when he suffered
a flat tire and had to walk for almost a kilometre before getting a fix.
His bad luck just got worse when he suffered a second flat.
"A top finish would have been well within my capabilities. When
I took the lead together with the Swiss guys, I really thought that this
was the day it might work out," said Hermida at the finish, but he
added that he was fully focussed on August 23 when he is hoping for better
luck at the Beijing Olympic games.
Their team-mate Ralph Näf also suffered some misfortune when he
had to sit out the competition due to the stomach flu. Näf is planning
to compete at the worlds in Italy next week.
Gold to Graves at Fort William
Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
After finishing seventh at the BMX World Championship in China last weekend,
Jared Graves showed his versatile skills by taking a win in the 4X
final at the third round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup Series
in Fort William, Scotland, this past weekend.
"I haven't won here for a couple of years," said Graves. "I
love this course but it's always hated me and with so many quick guys
you never know what's going to happen, so to get the win is just great."
The 25 year-old Graves is ranked number two in the world in BMX, in which
he hopes to gain selection for the Olympic Games in Beijing, but he also
boasts a solid resume of mountain bike results including a silver medal
in the 4X at the 2005 World Championships.
The 4X event in Fort William was raced in warm, dry conditions not usually
experienced on the Nevis Range course, and Graves made the most of them
to qualify fastest. He headed into the final as the man to beat despite
admitting last weekend he would be training through this World Cup and
the World Championships in Val di Sole in Italy in preparation for BMX
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the elite
men's and elite
women's 4X Fort William World Cup.
Moseley wins on home turf
By Luke Webber
Tracy Moseley celebrates in front
of the home crowds.
Photo ©: Luke Webber
At the World Cup downhill in Fort William, the elite women's event saw
a return to form for British national champion Tracy Moseley (Kona). After
an average start to the season, a return home gave Moseley the ideal opportunity
to start fresh on a course that has been a favourite for many years now.
In the past her victories have been on a very different course - wet,
windy and damaged, but the dusty, sandy track over the weekend was different
in character than anything seen before was not expected to suit Moseley
so well; in fact, Sabrina Jonnier (Team Maxxis) or Rachel Atherton (Animal
Commencal) were the preferred favourites for many.
But Moseley's experience on such a long and physical course was her asset
and she used it to exploit big time gaps across the course. Five seconds
was the deficit at the end of the race to Jonnier and a jubilant Moseley
took her lap of honour in front of a home crowd that powered her to another
victory at the Fort.
"It's amazing to get the season back on track, great for my confidence
and good timing to get it in front of the home fans too. I'm definitely
going quicker now than early on and hopefully I can keep that going through
the rest of the year. I haven't yet been to the Worlds track so I'll be
riding it blind, but I'm on such a high already I am confident of a good
Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz) wins
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
Sandwiching between Moseley and third placed Atherton was Frenchwoman
Jonnier who regained her World Cup leaders' jersey, but was unhappy with
her overall result. "The race went well today, but I ended up making
too many mistakes in the top section, I started out too fast and ended
up scaring myself! I'm pretty upset with finishing second, but Tracy did
a very good ride today. The main thing was I took back the leaders jersey
- that's the one good thing for today. The Worlds is going to be hard,
the same battle between Tracy, Rachel and I as last year though. I like
the course over in Italy, fast and technical but it needs some more pedalling!"
In the elite men's downhill, the podium was largely a Santa Cruz Syndicate
affair with Greg Minnar on top, Steve Peat in second and Nathan Rennie
After the race Minnaar was hoping the win was a sign of things to come.
"I haven't won a World Cup for a while so hopefully this is the start
of a new trend. When I jumped in I couldn't hear as much noise as I did
in the semi finals, so I thought I was down, I thought I really needed
to pedal hard to get something. But over that last jump I could see my
team-mates celebrating and that was the first time I realised I had the
Last weekend's World Cup winner Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal) finished
second while World Champion Sam Hill (Monster Energy / Iron Horse) finished
Hill got to keep his World Cup overall leader's jersey and was already
looking forward to the World Championships coming up. "After the semi
I tried to attack a bit more in the finals but it ended up about the same,"
said Hill, "so I'm a bit disappointed with a fifth, but happy to
head out of this round with the leader's jersey."
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the elite
men's and elite
women's downhill Fort William World Cup.
Second Trans Germany crowns winners
The peloton races the final stage
The Craft & Friends / Team Bianchi won the second Trans Germany after
its Thomas Dietsch and Martin Kraler triumphed on the final 79km stage from
Oberwiesenthal to Seiffen in 2:48:48 hours. In total, over seven stages,
the French and Austrian pair race 23:22:34 hours for the 658 kilometres
and 15,259 metres of elevation gain.
Photo ©: Wolfgang Watzke
After their fourth stage victory, Kraler was more than pleased. "In
the beginning of the Trans Germany we had some bad luck and weren't in
shape for 100 percent. We weren't able to compete during the weeks prior
to this race. But as the days went by we were getting better and better.
That's why we controlled the competition over the last stages. I'm happy
that we won."
For a short time during the final stage Anna-Sofie and Kristine Norgaard
questioned the outcome of the their women's race when they faced some
scary moments. Kristine's tube and tyre were damaged. "We had to
change the tube, so we put in our last one! We also fixed the tyre with
an ordinary tape. I was hoping that this would work out," said Kristine
after the final stage in which the two Danish sisters finished third (3:14:09).
The tyre repair did in fact work, so even a final stage win by Team Rocky
Mountain with Alison Sydor and Pia Sundstedt (3:11:02) didn't affect the
final standing. In the end, Team Cube WLS secured their second consecutive
title with a lead of 15 minutes over Team Rocky Mountain. "It was
a stressful day and for a few minutes I was really scared of losing our
lead but it finally worked out. We are super happy that we were able to
win again after 2007," said Kristine Norgaard.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Trans
Experience pays off at Big Bear
Tinker Juarez (Mona Vie / Cannondale)
Photo ©: Harlan Price
The third event of the 24 hour National Points Series (NPS), the 24 Hours
of Big Bear, started just days after heavy rains the previous week threatened
to make the technical, wooded course slick. Racers and support crews also
battled intense heat over the weekend which altered the normal expectations
of cooler conditions in the Appalachian highlands of West Virginia.
1996 Olympian-turned endurance specialist Tinker Juarez (Mona Vie / Cannondale)
had his own doubts about his ability to win the men's solo division. The
southern California native and resident is a bit out of his element on
technical, muddy East Coast courses, but in the end his experience mitigated
any unfamiliarity with regional course conditions.
Juarez used a familiar race strategy from his days on the international
cross country scene: a fast start to open up a sustainable gap on his
competitors. With a time of one hour, 16 minutes, he was the third on
his first lap and racing with some of the team riders. For the next five
laps, Juarez stayed in the top ten places in the overall standings, before
stepping off the gas slightly.
Photo ©: Harlan Price
Meanwhile, Ernesto Marenchin (Asylum Cycles) of Stow, Ohio, followed
the reverse plan. Holding back slightly in the opening three laps, by
nightfall Marenchin was turning nearly equal lap times with Juarez, leading
to significantly faster laps number 10, 11 and 12 on Sunday morning. Juarez
kept his cool in the sweltering heat, however, and the late charge by
Marenchin was not enough to erase the gap sustained by the consistent,
measured effort from Juarez, who took the win with 15 laps ridden and
a 52 minute advantage over Marenchin.
"Marenchin deserves to be commended. He kept the pressure on me
the whole race. I knew that I shouldn't panic, though, and just focused
on my own performance and keeping it steady," said Juarez.
In the women's solo race, a racer registered mysteriously as "Ms.
Cookie" displayed her own experience and consistency to win the class.
Further research revealed "Ms. Cookie" to be the pseudonym of
Carol Clemens (Dirt Rag), a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, resident who finished
second in 2007. The early challenge was mounted by Liz Baumgardt-Kays
(A&B Machine) of Rockford, Illinois, who turned two fast early laps before
fading to third overall behind the quickening pace of Clemens and Heidi
Schilling (Ellsworth) of Whitehall, Ohio.
"I knew from previous years that you can't start out too fast, and
have to really gauge your efforts to survive the whole race," said
Clemens, displaying the wisdom of a seasoned 24 racer.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the 24
hours of Big Bear.
Record numbers to compete at World Championship
Italy will host the UCI World Championships for the third time from June
17 to 22, when a record number of racers are set to compete. Val di Sole
is hosting this edition while Ciocco (1991) and Livigno (2005) have hosted
previous Italian editions
More than 970 racers from 52 countries will compete next week. The breakdown
includes 532 in the cross country, 261 in the downhill, 96 in 4X and 100
in trials according to the UCI's website. The large numbers are due in
part to the upcoming Olympic Games - many riders will use the World Championships
By comparison, last year's worlds in Fort William, Great Britain drew
715 racers from 47 countries. In 2004, the last Olympic year, there were
794 racers in Les Gets, France. 2005 and 2006 (Rotorua, New Zealand) saw
702 and 482 racers respectively.
German, Swiss, US & Canadian teams for worlds
The American, German, Swiss and Canadian Cycling Federations finalized
their selections for representatives for the 2008 UCI Mountain Bike World
Championships next week in Val di Sole, Italy, from June 17-22. Teams
for each nation are listed below.
US for the 2008 World Championships
Elite men: Adam Craig, Todd Wells, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Jeremiah Bishop,
Michael Broderick, Sam Schultz
Elite women: Mary McConneloug, Georgia Gould, Willow Koerber, Heather
Irmiger, Sue Haywood, Lea Davison, Kelli Emmett
U23 and junior: Kevin Aiello, Naish Ulmer, Joseph Schusler, Taylor Borucki,
Dustin Belcher, Graeme Pitts and Geoffrey Ulmer were named as additions
to the previously announced
junior and U23 cross country teams.
Elite men: Kyle Strait, J.D. Swanguen, Duncan Riffle, Cole Bangert, Cody
Warren, Kain Leonard, Lars Steinberg
Elite women: Melissa Buhl, Kathy Pruitt
Junior men: Kevin Aiello, Naish Ulmer, Joseph Schusler, Taylor Borucki,
Dustin Belcher, Graeme Pitts, Geoffrey Ulmer
Elite men: Brian Lopes, Ross Milan, Mike Haderer, Erik Nelson, Blake Carney
Elite women: Melissa Buhl, Neven Steinmetz, Jessica Vogt (declined nomination)
Canada for the 2008 World Championships
Elite men: Geoff Kabush, Seamus McGrath, Derek Zandstra, Max Plaxton
Elite women: Marie-Helene Premont, Catharine Pendrel, Kiara Bisaro
U23 men: Neal Kindree (injured and unable to attend), Raphael Gagne
U23 women: Emily Batty
Junior men: Evan Guthrie, Tyson Wagler, Jonathon Boucher
Junior women: Leah Kirchmann , Bianca Adolf
Elite men: Steve Smith, Andrew Mitchell, Charles -Alexandre Dube, Hans
Elite women: Claire Buchar, Micayla Gatto, Denise Uyesugi, Kim Huard,
Junior men: Yann Gauvin, Trenton Zoobkoff, Alex Prochazka, Philippe Cyrenne
Junior women: Miranda Miller
Men: James Barton, Jeff Anderson
Switzerland for the 2008 World Championships
Elite men: Ralph Näf, Jürg Graf, Thomas Frischknecht, Christoph
Sauser, Nino Schurter, Fabian Giger, Mathias Flückiger, Lukas Flückiger,
Martin Gujan, Patrik Gallati, Pascal Meyer, Florian Vogel, Nicola Rohrbach,
Elite women: Petra Henzi, Esther Süss, Katrin Leumann, Marielle Saner,
Maroussia Rusca, Nathalie Schneitter, Kathrin Stirnemann
Junior men: Matthias Rupp, Arnaud Grand, Donat Albin, Matthias Stirnemann,
Mirco Widmer, Reto Indergand
Junior women: Vivienne Meyer, Karin Rappo, Michelle Hediger, Marina Giger
Team relay: Florian Vogel, Petra Henzi, Nino Schurter, Matthias Rupp
Elite men: Marcel Beer, Nick Beer, Dominik Gspan, Samuel Zbinden, Patrik
Elite women: Miriam Ruchti, Emilie Siegenthaler
Junior men: Nicolas Gspan, Janick Lieberherr, Robin Hagen
Elite men: Dominik Gspan, Sidney Gerber, Roger Rinderknecht, Reto Schmid
Elite women: Lucia Oetjen, Rachel Seydoux
Elite men: Stefan Moor, Keller Roger
Elite women: Karin Moor
Junior men: Loris Braun, Jérome Chapuis, Lars Zysset, Cyril Jeker,
Germany for the 2008 World Championships
Elite women: Sabine Spitz, Adel Morath, Claudia Seidel, Ivonne Kraft
Elite men: Wolfram Kurschat, Manuel Fumic, Jochen Käss, Karl Platt,
Moritz Milatz, Lado Fumic
U23 women: Hanna Klein, Ines Thoma, Silke Schmidt, Anja Gradl
U23 men: Markus Bauer, Andi Eyring, Felix Euteneuer, Heiko Gutmann, Vero
Junior women: Mona Eberweiser, Gesa Brüchmann, Julia Haase
Junior men: Markus Schülte Lünzum, Martin Gluth, Marcel Fleschhut,
Daniel Strecker, Valentin Fiderer, Mathias Reis, Simon Stiebjahn
Elite men: Leonie Dickerhoff, Maximilian Bender, Jürgen Beneke, Marcus
Klausmann, Frank Schneider, Johann Sütter
Elite women: Steffi Marth
Elite men: Guido Tschugg, Johannes Fischbach, Sascha Meyenborg, Daniel
Auerswald, Thomas Schäfer
Elite women: Elisa Brieden, Ulrike Wenzel
Elite men: Michael Hampel, Felix Heller, Sebastian Hoffmann, Andreas Lehmann,
Heiko Lehmann, Johannes Mahler, Matthias Mrohs, Thomas Mrohs, Julian Peter,
Marc Schröder, Marco Thomä, Wolfgang Wenzel
Kalentieva rides with her head, too
By Susan Westemeyer
Kalentieva won the Worlds last
year, saying that she really wanted it.
Irina Kalentieva came originally from the little-known Russian province
of Chuvash to conquer the world – the world of mountain biking. She won
the World Championship title in cross country last year in Fort William,
and will look to defend that title next week in Val di Sole, Italy. She
has lived in Germany for the past five years.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Talking with the 30 year-old, one is struck by how often she mentions
her motivation, leading to the question, does she ride with her head as
much as with her legs? "My head – the motivation – is the most important.
All the riders have good legs, good training, we are all equal physically.
Five or six of us, all the same," she said. "But the one who will win
in the end is the one who is strongest in the head, who thinks positively.
For me, I use my head a lot in racing, for example in tactics." She continued,
"In the World Championships, all are strong and it is very difficult,
but I tell myself that I can do it. That is my strength."
That was also how the Topeak Ergon racer won the World title last year.
"It was something very special, all the strongest riders in the world
were there, even (Gunn-Rita) Dahle Flesjĺ (Multivan Merida). It was very
special. I thought I could finish in the top three. The course was very
good for me, the downhill, everything worked out 100 percent.
"I had the strongest motivation to win and to become World Champion,
that helped. Perhaps I was no stronger than the others, but with this
motivation ... that I one day wanted to become World Champion, that helped"
to bring her the title.
Winning that title was the best moment in her career. The worst moment
was four years ago, in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. "I got sick two days
before the race. We figured on a medal and then I got sick. I rode anyway,
and finished 13th out of 32, fever and all. I could have died, but that
Kalentieva during a training ride
Photo ©: Oliver Kessler
The Russian is from Norwash-Shigalj in the Russian province of Chuvash,
which is located in the Volga region not far from Nijnij Novgorod. Why
did she make the long trip to Aalen, Germany, and end up living there?
I wanted to go to Europe because there are so many races there, World
Cup or Bundesliga," she said. "All of my main rivals are in Europe. It
is perfect for preparation and for taking part in races. I can watch my
rivals closely and change my training plans quickly when I need to."
The proximity to the races has been good for her. In 2007 she won the
World Championships, the World Cup and four World Cup races. She was second
in the recent European Championships in St. Wendel, Germany, as she also
was in the 2006 worlds in Rotorua, New Zealand. She has been Russian national
champion seven times, and is the five-time winner of the German National
There is another advantage to living in Germany, and that is that "it
is much easier to go mountain biking in Germany than in Russia. Here in
Germany there are many bike paths, where you can ride away from the autos,
and in the forest, too, where you can train in peace and quiet. In Russia
there is only the road, and no special trails for mountain bikers. It
is much too dangerous to train there."
Kalentieva started out in track and field and tried cyclo-cross before
turning to mountain biking in 1993. Her change came about this way: "Our
city bought two mountain bikes for the athletes. We got one, that is,
our team's trainer got one. Then I just started riding it. I liked it
a lot, it was something special, and I really enjoyed it a lot, this technique.
That's when I decided: I want to ride mountain bikes."
Read the complete
Casalegno out with injury
Junior woman Vittoria Casalegno will have to sit out the World Championship
race in her home country next week after a road accident. The Italian
racer from Piedmont suffered fractures and other injuries requiring surgery.
Officials from her Giant Italia Team reported that an operation was completed,
but have no word yet from her doctors on expectations for her recovery.
"Vittoria was on track to be in good physical condition after some
earlier problems, and she was ready to take part to the World Championship,"
said Technical Manager Gianfranco Bechis. "Unfortunately this accident
happened but we are sure that, thanks to her determination, she will be
able to start mountain biking again soon. The Team will continue to support
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)