MTB news & racing round-up for March 19, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Marathon opens UCI World Cup season
Thomas Dietsch (Gewiss Bianchi)
racing at La Ruta
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Frenchman Thomas Dietsch (Gewiss-Bianchi) and Finn Pia Sundstedt won
the opening round of the UCI World Cup Marathon in Manavgat, Turkey on
Last year's top-ranked marathoner Dietsch, who
finished in a time of three hours, 38 minutes and 54 seconds, faced
a challenge from former Olympic Champion Miguel Martinez, who was back
from retirement, which he had begun in 2006. No doubt a flat tire slowed
the former champion, who eventually finished 33rd after his bad luck.
Martinez was at one point in the lead and had dropped Dietsch, who passed
Martinez when he got his flat on a downhill and went on to win solo.
"I'm very happy, relieved. I'm going to take a holiday now. I'm
the new World Cup leader," said Dietsch according to the UCI's website.
Austrian Alban Lakata (Dolphin-Trek Mountainbike Racing Team) finished
second, just 21 seconds off the lead, with German Karl Platt and Stefan
Sahm, both of Team Bulls, in third and fourth at 2'19" and 2'20"
Finn Pia Sundstedt won the women's
race after a tight battle with Italy's Annabella Stropparo, who was
fresh off last weekend's Italian Cup win in Brescia. Sundstedt took her
win in three hours, 28 minutes and 16 seconds, by just five seconds over
Stropparo. Swiss Esther Süss finished in third at 7'23".
The next and final round of the marathon World Cup is scheduled for October
4-5 in Ornans, France.
Hermida "satisfied" with Spanish Cup debut
Jose Antonio Hermida
Photo ©: Sergio Suarez
Jose Antonio Hermida (Multivan Merida) finished fourth in the first
race of the Open de España in Albeda de Iregua, Spain on Sunday. Ruben
Ruzafa Cueto (Orbea) won by 58 seconds over Martí Gispert Labarta (ECP-Tau
Ceramica) and Ivan Alvarez Gutiérrez (KTM) placed third.
Hermida, who was contesting his first cross country race of the season,
said he felt very comfortable on his new "ninety-six" bike.
Throughout the race, he stayed near Ivan Álvarez, with the pair
riding a constant pace, but it was Álvarez who won the sprint for
"I am satisfied with my fourth position of today," said Hermida
on his website. "It was the first race of the season and [I] could
not go to the maximum. It has been a race in which I have gone with a
constant and soft pace. The important thing is to have good feelings,
and I have had them." Hermida has planned a step by step increase
in his fitness as he gears up for the World Cups and Olympic Games.
Kugler & Henzi collect overall Sunshine Cup
Team-mates Petra Henzi and Andreas
Kugler (Fisher BMC) celebrate
Photo ©: Armin M. Küstenbrück
The wins of Austrian Christoph Soukup and Swiss Petra Henzi offered no
surprises at Limassol-Yermasogia for round five of the Sunshine Cup. For
Henzi, her win, ahead of Adelheid Morath and Tereza Hurikovas meant she
also claimed Sunshine Cup overall title. Henzi's Fischer-BMC team-mate
Andreas Kugler finished second in the men's race and claimed the overall
men's title while Sweden's Magnus Darvell placed third.
Soukoup used his climbing prowess to his advantage in the men's race
and eventually rode away from Kugler after an attack that got him a gap.
"Soukup for sure was stronger in the ascent. The locomotive took
two gears higher and then he was away. But at least I'm happy with the
overall title as well as with the complete four weeks racing and training
in Cyprus. It couldn't have been better," Kugler said.
Soukup was afraid of Kugler catching him on the descent. The Swiss indeed
did make up some ground, but Soukup's first season victory was safe, and
he took the win by 1'14" over Kugler. "I'm happy with the victory.
It was a successful end of a good training camp," Soukup said.
The first decisive action in the women's race happened in the first lap.
After just three kilometers Adelheid Morath, Petra Henzi and Tereza Hurikova
went into a downhill section. Hurikova tried to pass, took an alternative
line and rolled over a stone which caused her a flat and more than six
On the start loop of the men's
Photo ©: Armin M. Küstenbrück
The flat was demoralizing for the Czech racer, who had a long run to
get to the tech zone for help with her repair. "That made my legs
very hard, and I needed to recover from running. Mentally it was hard
to motivate myself knowing that I have no chance to take the win,"
said eventual third-placed Hurikova.
Henzi made it her race on the downhill parts and the marathon world champion
got away to complete most of four laps solo before finishing first ahead
of the 23 year-old German Morath.
"My first goal today was to secure the overall. But I had a lot
of fun, especially in the winding downhill," said Henzi. On the final
day of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup the sun shined twice for her.
Considering her overall title, Henzi was happy with a good start for
Fischer-BMC. "It's very positive for the team winning both [men's
and women's] overall titles. Our goal was to have a good training camp
on Cyprus. The races were a plus to get the race rhythm and it worked
Muddy Mundy defends South African title
Heymans wins men's race, but Stewart named national champion
Team Jeep’s Amy-Jane Mundy rode
the perfect race
Photo ©: SA MTB
Team Jeep's Amy-Jane Mundy took advantage of muddy conditions to successfully
defend her cross country elite
women's title at the South
African national mountain bike championships in Pietermaritzburg.
Going into the championships as a dark horse, with only an outside chance
of toppling African champion Yolande Speedy (IMC Racing), the 2007 national
champion was motivated to put in a great performance and won by more than
"I love racing in muddy conditions and so for me, the rain was actually
a good thing," said the 26 year-old. "The course was only about
80 percent rideable on the first lap and I managed to get the early lead
on the first climb and just built on it from there."
Speedy was slowed by a snapped chain with two kilometres of the first
lap remaining. "It was mostly all downhill from where my chain snapped
to the technical zone at the start/finish area so I thought I'd just run
with my bike down to where I could wash the chain and repair it,"
explained Speedy. "But the broken chain fell out of my pocket at
some point so I had to find a new chain which took up even more valuable
Going into lap two, Speedy had lost a few positions and was 13 minutes
down on Mundy, an eternity in a two-hour event. Speedy chased hard on
the remaining three laps, moving up to second place and gradually closed
the gap to Mundy, who by contrast, was having a perfect race. But ultimately
it was Mundy's day and she gave a broad, muddy-faced grin to the crowd
as she crossed the finish line in 2:18:12.
"I did feel pressure going into the race and am so happy to have
been able to defend my title," smiled an elated Mundy, who conceded
that Speedy's technical problems did take the pressure off somewhat, before
adding: "But I did put all my focus on this race and it's very satisfying
that it paid off."
the elite men's cross country race Brandon Stewart (USN), inspired
by enthusiastic hometown support, charged into an early lead at a very
quick pace. But as he started lap four for the second half of the race,
Mannie Heymans (MTN Energade), caught and passed him and went on to claim
the victory. However, as Heymans hails from Namibia, Stewart was awarded
the national title.
"I've been training for cross-country racing as well as marathon
racing this year, so I was very prepared for this race," said Stewart
afterwards. "I'm riding full time now which makes a big difference.
It feels really good to win a national title!"
For Heymans, the overall victory was important as it confirmed his selection
to represent Namibia at the Beijing Olympics, the veteran's third Olympics.
"I didn't have a great year last year and I told the Namibian Federation
that if I didn't prove myself at the South African Champs., I would happily
step aside from the Olympic team. But I showed today that I've still got
what it takes and feel my selection is justified," smiled Heymans.
Burry Stander (Mr Price GT) won the U23 men's cross country title, and
Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Gina Nixon won the elite men's
and women's downhill.
The 26 year-old Minnaar had only been back on his bike three weeks following
surgery to repair his shoulder. "To be honest, it was quite a relief
to win today," smiled Minnaar. "I'm always expected to win in
South Africa and when I'm home, I'm not super focused on racing so went
into the race a bit under-prepared. But it all worked out okay and my
shoulder never bothered me at all, although I was a bit stiff from practising
in the mud on Saturday."
See full coverage of the South
African National Championships.
Australia & New Zealand take turns dominating at Oceanias
Chris Jongewaard emerges from Yaugher
for the final time
Photo ©: Andrew Connolly
The Australians and New Zealanders took turns dominating the cross
country and downhill
competition at the UCI
Oceania Mountain bike Championships in Nelson, New Zealand. The Australians
came out on top in the cross country while New Zealanders took top championship
honors in the downhill.
In the cross country, both Australian national champions won their respective
races with Adelaide's Chris Jongewaard and Melbourne's Dellys Starr reconfirming
their current positions as two of only four Australian riders on the shadow
team for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Jongewaard had to fight for the lead which was taken by former Athens
Olympian, Sid Taberlay from Tasmania. Multi-Australian titleholder Taberlay,
who finished sixth at the Commonwealth Games, led convincingly during
the first four of six laps of the 8.4 km course - eventually opening up
a 20 second lead. Jongewaard later closed the gap and reclaimed the lead
to win in a a record 2:00:19. Taberlay could not answer and placed second
at 1:18 with Victorian Dan McConnell in third nearly four minutes down.
All three riders are on Australia's shadow team for the Olympics.
Australian Dellys Starr, the only female rider to qualify for the Australian
shadow team, was in a class of her own in the elite women's race. The
31 year-old spread-eagled the field to win her four lap race in 1:37:43,
with New Zealand's Kaytee Boyd impressing with her second place, ahead
of Australian Rowena Fry.
"I pushed up the climbs and pulled away and lead from the start,"
said the women's winner. "I always go out as hard as I can. I was
happy with the win because my preparation and training is heading in the
right direction." Starr said she had done some threshold training
before this event however with a long season of World Cups ahead, Starr
says she will return to strength training.
In the downhill, it was New Zealand's turn to stand on top of the podiums.
In the men's race, a hometown rider Kieran Bennett gave the locals plenty
to cheer about when he took out the downhill title. It proved a New Zealand
double with Queenstown's Scarlett Hagen claiming the Oceania elite women's
honours, although she finished a close second behind visiting Great Britain
rider Tracy Moseley, who was ineligible for the title.
Bennett, third in yesterday's seeding run, upstaged his rivals to scorch
down the course in 2'57"06. The 2007 national champion finished 14
seconds ahead of the in-form Christchurch professional Justin Leov, who
won the South Island Cup round on the same course in January. Experienced
Levin rider Nathan Rankin was third, 42 seconds behind the winner, while
top seed Sam Blenkinsop completed a disappointing competition when he
crashed out and finished well down in the finishing order.
English professional Moseley, the 2006 World Cup downhill series champion
and runner-up last year, enjoyed a superb weekend to clock the fastest
time in the downhill, after second place in the dual slalom and a win
in the four cross. Hagen, who headed the seeding run, was happy to finish
so close to Moseley and claim the Oceania title. Her margin was just 3.8
seconds. Hagen had little time to celebrate as she headed directly back
to resume her university studies at Otago University tomorrow.
"I was pretty happy. Obviously it was good to top the seeding run
but I am pleased with the performance today to finish so close to Tracy,
who is world class," Hagen said. "I am looking forward to competing
in some World Cup races later this year," she added.
See full coverage of all events at the UCI
Oceania Mountainbike Championships.
La Ruta winner gets nod for Beijing
Federico Ramirez at La Ruta 2007
Photo ©: Luis A. Rueda Fonseca
Federico "Lico" Ramírez has earned the chance to represent
Costa Rica in the Olympic Cross Country race in Beijing, China, in August.
He was selected by the Technical Board of the Costa Rican Cycling Federation
(FECOCI) for his achievements over the past year including winning the
2007 National XCO Cup, the 2007 XCO National Championship, placing fourth
at the TransAlp race in Europe, placing second at the TransRockies in
Canada and also for winning the overall at the 2007 La Ruta de los Conquistadores.
"I'm very happy about this opportunity. This is what every cyclist
dreams about. I hope to do the best for my country and will now work thinking
on that single goal," said the 31 year-old Costa Rican cyclist.
Lico's team-mate Henry Raabe was also chosen to represent Cost Rica,
but on the road team, thanks to his two consecutive victories in La Vuelta
a Costa Rica, the country's most important road race (ranked 2.1 on the
UCI's American Tour).
Both racers will take part in the Sea Otter Classic next month. "We
will support them to enter the Sea Otter Classic as a first stop on their
long trip to Beijing," said La Ruta's Marketing Manager Luis Rueda.
Ramírez and Raabe will also travel to Europe two months before
the Olympics in order to complete their preparation. The Costa Rican Cycling
Federation and the BCR-Pizza Hut Cycling Team will sponsor their journey
Schultz brothers break away together
Team Kenda Titus Hayes' Andy Schultz took his team's first solo win this
past weekend at the Gardner Canyon Grind in Sonoita, Arizona. Racing along
side his brother Sam for the first time since both turned pro, they took
an early lead on the first lap along with two other riders. By the end
of the lap, the pair had dropped their companions and was working together
as they rolled along the hilly fire roads into a strong headwind. When
they entered the singletrack descent, Sam flatted and Andy soloed for
the rest of the day, cruising to the win.
After the event, Andy spent time with many of the junior racers taking
part in the race. He invited them to spend more time with the team at
the NOVA Desert Classic in early April. Schultz and his team head next
to the first National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) event in Fontana, California
at the end of March.
Gunn-Rita diary: Last day in Stavanger
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå riding
Photo ©: Multivan Merida Biking Team
On Thursday morning we bid a final farewell to our apartment in Stavanger.
Next time we come home again, we'll be moving straight into our new house
designed by KleppHus. We have packed our suitcases for half a year.
And here we are at Maser, close by Montebelluna in Treviso, in the north
of Italy. We'll be living and training here for the rest of the month
in familiar surroundings. We left Stavanger early Thursday morning and
were fetched at the airport in Zurich. Oliver from Team Multivan Merida
fetched us and drove us to Brescia, north of Milan, and a short half hour's
drive from Verona.
Our plan was to start the cycling season on Saturday morning in the Italian
Cup. I was out cycling 'round the course on Friday, a rough and demanding
track circling around the castle in the town of Brescia, but my body felt
weak and not up to it. So Kenneth and I made a joint decision to not take
part in the race on Saturday morning. We're not taking any chances with
my health these days. I was naturally looking forward to competing again,
but it wouldn't have been a good experience anyway when my body clearly
wasn't up to it.
Read the complete
Alpine Bikes Winter Series continues with round three
Coming up this Easter weekend, March 22 and 23 is round three of the
Alpine Winter Bike Series at Innerleithen, Scotland. The race will take
place on a new track and is drawing top racers like Marc Beaumont, Dan
Atherton, Gee Atherton, Rachael Atherton, Helen Gaskell, Matt Simmonds,
Tom Braitwaite, Julien Camellini, Neil Donoghue, Si Paton and Nigel Page.
Saturday is for practice and a trials team display. Practice resumes
Sunday morning with racing starting after lunch. For more information,
visit www.alpinebikes.co.uk or www.npsdh.com
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)