MTB news & racing round-up for March 28, 2008
Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking.
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Edited by Sue George
NMBS opening in Fontana
Georgia Gould (Luna MTB Team)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
The first round of the National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) for 2008
heads to Fontana, California, this weekend. Pro racing starts Friday afternoon
with the 4X qualifying, but most of the drama is set to happen the next
two days. On Saturday, the pro men and women will race the cross country
and finish off the 4X with finals. Sunday's action-packed day will feature
elite downhill qualifying and finals, short track and super D races.
Many top American and Canadian riders are expected to start their season
in California; however, a few riders will be busy elsewhere. For example,
some NMBS regulars like Jeremiah Bishop and Sue Haywood will be racing
for their Trek / VW team at the Cape Epic in South Africa and reports
are in that some other top riders like Todd Wells (GT) will be racing
instead at the Medalla Light Ultimate Dirt Challenge, a UCI race in Puerto
In 2007, Georgia Gould (Luna Women's MTB Team) placed ahead of her team-mates
Katerina Nash and Shonny Vanlandingham in the cross country women's final
NMBS standings. The trio mixed it up slightly in the short track with
Nash finishing ahead of Gould and Vanlandingham. Gould will be back to
defend her winning ways and mostly likely her Luna team-mates will be
joining her, but look out also for Heather Irmiger (Subaru / Gary Fisher),
Willow Koerber (Subaru / Gary Fisher), Wendy Simms (Kona) Mary McConneloug
(Kenda / Seven) and Lea Davison (Trek / VW).
Geoff Kabush (Maxxis)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) was the master of the pro men's cross country
NMBS race scene last year, and he is expected to return to racing in Fontana.
The Canadian won the cross country series ahead of Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski
(Subaru-Gary Fisher), and Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW). He also captured
the short track overall with JHK in second and Todd Wells (GT Bikes) in
third. The same players will be battling it out generally this year along
with Kona's Barry Wicks and Ryan Trebon, Giant's Adam Craig and Subaru
/ Gary Fisher's Sam Schultz, just to name a few. How often we see them
at the NMBS series remains to be seen as many of them will be focusing
on the UCI's World Cup events during their quests to make the US Olympic
Melissa Buhl (KHS Bicycles) should be back to defend her status as queen
of the downhill. Lisa Myklak (Spyder/Fox/BLKMRKT) and Joanna Petterson
are her likely competition. On the men's gravity side, Australia's Jared
Rando Giant/Michelin) and Amiel Cavalier (Giant) were the fastest overall
last year, but they will be challenged by riders like American Cole Bangert
(Morewood/Utopia) and New Zealanders Justin Leov (Yeti/Fox) and Kieran
Bennett (Ironhorse) among others.
NMBS racers won't have long to rest up after the weekend. Just a few
days later, round two, with cross country and short track events, starts
near Phoenix, Arizona. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage
of the NMBS racing in Fontana!
Time bonuses spice up Cape Epic
Competition at the Cape Epic stage race scheduled to begin on Friday
will be made more interesting this year with the addition of time bonuses
for the first time. Leading teams will race for time bonus advantages
at various hotspots in the race. While time bonuses are common in road
stage races, the Cape Epic is the first major mountain bike stage race
to introduce the concept to mountain biking. The addition of the bonuses
is expected to make the racing more strategic.
"In the first few years of the race, when typically one team dominated
the race from start to finish, time bonuses would have made the race less
exciting, since this dominant team would end up even further in the lead,"
said race founder Kevin Vermaak on www.cape-epic.com.
"However, as more and more world-class teams enter the race, time
bonuses now make the racing even more exciting and will introduce more
strategy and tactics amongst the teams racing for the GC podium. In last
year's race, no fewer than five different teams won a stage, and the leader
jerseys changed hands four times."
Racing kicks off Friday with a prologue that will decide seeding for
stage one. In addition to riding out of Knysna in yellow, the winners
will have the benefit of starting the day with a time bonus. Time bonuses
will also be offered for a sprint during stage six and for winning the
shorter stage seven as well as for a king of the mountains win during
stage two. The top three for each earn 60, 30 and 15 seconds respectively.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for full coverage of the Cape Epic.
In the meantime, read the preview.
Trek / VW Team Cape Epic Diary: Counting down
The Trek / VW team trains in Moab
After a successful training camp and photography session in Moab, Utah last
weekend, the Trek-VW team is now headed across the globe to Cape Town, South
Africa. The red sand of Moab will hopefully bring good luck to the two teams
and two staff members we are sending to the Cape Epic stage race. It's going
to be an abrupt start to a long season, especially for our new staffers,
but we're hoping the effort is rewarded with some good results, great fitness,
and amazing stories.
Photo ©: Andrew Shepherd
Cape Epic is the flagship event of a new generation of epic, multi-day
mountain bike races. It traverses the South African countryside from Knysna
to Cape Town, over the course of eight days. Stages cover 100km or so
per day, and the terrain is about as rugged and beautiful as any on earth.
Why have we decided to send our athletes thousands of miles away to race
in distant lands? No, it's not because we simply want to banish them from
the team trailer for a few weeks. Rather, we decided that the opportunity
was ripe for our team to make a big splash in this category of racing. We
have riders that do exceptionally well in many other categories of off-road
racing: Chris Eatough dominates the 100 mile and 24-hour endurance scene;
Brian and Jenny Smith are regulars on the podium in Xterra Off-Road Triathlon;
Jeremiah Bishop is contending for the US Olympic selection in World Cup
cross-country; Susan Haywood has taken wins in stage races including El
Reto Guatemala, TransRockies, and La Ruta de los Conquistadores.
Read the complete
English and Van Der Spiegel crowned Australian 24 hour
solo national champions
By Dan McKay in Canberra
The winner Jason English (BMC)
Photo ©: Canberra Off-Road Cyclists
For the second consecutive year, the Australian
Solo National 24 hour Championships were held in Canberra's Mt Majura
Pine forest. The twisting, dusty trails provided a perfect venue for what
was to be an intensely fought battle last weekend for the coveted green
and gold jerseys - not to mention also a trip to the 24 hours of Adrenalin
World Championships in Canada coming in July.
The women's field included experienced 24-hour racer and current 24 hour
National Champion Katrin Van Der Spiegel (Clarence Street Cyclery) along
with the winner of the recent Scott 24 hour Alexandra Kiendl (Kona) and
local hopeful Claire Graydon.
The men's field was missing current 24 hour National Champion Andrew
Bell, who was busy celebrating a new arrival to his family, but was stacked
with strong contenders. John Claxton (Giant) was back to better his second
place in last year's nationals along with third placed Daniel Mackay (Giant)
Also showing strong form was BMC rider Jason English, 24 hours of Adrenalin
Champion (in 20-25 years-old category) Joel Donney, and fourth place finisher
at the 2006 Scott 24 hour solo, Mark Fenner.
Katrin Van Der Spiegel (Clarence
Photo ©: Canberra Off-Road Cyclists
As the race progressed, the fast pace began to whittle down the lead
bunch. Eventually, at the front, English and Claxton were left to trade
leads back and forth throughout the night with the gap never more than
a few minutes. After the sun rose, an exhausted Claxton made an error
which ended in a spectacular high speed crash. This opened the door for
English to gain the upper hand and he gradually opened a lead. English
finished the race with a win, two laps ahead of Claxton with Mackay 19
minutes further back. English completed 47 laps or 428 kilometres (266
miles) in his 24 hours of racing.
In the women's race, Katrin Van Der Spiegel gained an early advantage
with a good start and was never seriously challenged. Throughout the race
she continued to build her lead and she finished three laps ahead of Alexandra
Kiendl. In fact, her 38 laps in a little over 24 hours would have put
her in ninth overall - a spectacular performance.
Behind Van Der Spiegel, the race for second and third was fought between
the experienced Kiendl and local heroine Claire Graydon. Consistent performances
by both riders placed Kiendl four laps ahead of Graydon.
See full coverage of the Australian
24 hour solo national championships.
Compton returns to the dirt
Katie Compton (Spike Shooter)
Photo ©: Mitch Clinton
Four time US National Cyclo-cross champion Katie Compton will return
to the dirt again on a mountain bike in a few weeks. Compton, will travel
with her Kiwi husband Mark Legg to New Zealand for the New Zealand singlespeed
national championships in Rotorua on Anzac weekend April 25-27.
The couple from Colorado will enjoy the chance to race on the Whakarewarewa
Forest trails. Their entries were among the first dozen or so organizers
"We were stoked to get our first entries from the States so early,"
said Event Director Dean Watson. "And with Katie it was the starting
point for a very strong women's field." Because Compton isn't a New
Zealander she won't be eligible for the women's title and winner's tattoo.
"We explained that to her, but she didn't mind," said Watson.
"Both her and Mark told us they will be here to just ride and have
some fun in the true spirit of singlespeeding."
With international experience in road, track and cyclo-cross racing,
Compton is, of course, one of the favorites for the weekend. She won the
silver medal at the world cyclo-cross championships in 2007 and logged
some mountain bike racing time last year at Sea Otter.
Polish racers ready for national series and Olympic team selection
Maja Wloszczowska (Pol)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Poland's Skandia MTB Marathon will include six races this year with the
first one beginning on April 27 in Chodziez. Additional rounds will happen
in Szczawno Zdroj on May 3, Bielawa on May 1, Naleczow on June 1 and Jelenia
Gora on August 17 with finals at Gdansk on October 5. This season, top
riders will be fighting not only for wins, but also for a spot on the
Polish Olympic Team.
Only one Olympic spot is available for the men and Marek Galinski, the
overall winner of last year's series, is the most likely candidate. It's
the women who have earned two spots and Maja Wloszczowska and Ania Szafraniec
are looking like the favorites. The pair has been ruling domestic competition
for several years. Wloszczowska will be defending her win in last year's
Grand Prix MTB and she is both the reigning Polish mountain bike and road
national champion. She also boasts world and European championship medals
in her collection. Szafraniec has won silver at the World Championships,
has been the Polish national champion and the Grand Prix MTB champion
as well as a Junior World Champion.
Along with the cross country events will be several night-time four cross
competitions in Szczawno Zdroj on May 4, Bielawa on May 17, Naleczow on
May 31 and Jelenia Gora on August 16. The final event in Jelenia Gora
will be held in conjunction with the 900th anniversary of the city of
Adidas team extended
The international Adidas freeride team added four new riders from four
different countries for 2008 including 2007 Crankworx winner Ben Boyko
from Vancouver, Canada; Norwegian shooting star Mads Andre Haugen; style
and flow champ Alex Reveles from Aptos, California; and Austria's dirt
jump hero and first Whitestyle winner Niki Leitner from Vienna. In total,
the team now features 11 riders from seven countries.
Swisspower Cup first round starts in Buchs
Round one of the SwissPower cup will start this Sunday in Buchs with
the company of many Olympic hopefuls and top Swiss and international riders
like Ralf Naf, Jose Antonio Hermida, Manuel Fumic, Nino Schurter, Florian
Vogel, cross country world champion Irina Kalentieva, Sabine Spitz, and
marathon world champion Petra Henzi, Sarah Koba, Renata Bucher, and Kathrin
Leumann. World Champion Julien Absalon is confirmed for the rounds in
Savognin and Bern, but will not be at the start in Buchs.
The course will feature steep ascents and descents and technical challenges
and is expected to draw 750 racers from 14 nations.
Swisspower Cup 2008
March 29-30: Buchs (C1)
April 5-6: Winterthur (C2)
April 12-13: Muttenz (C1)
May 24-25: Gränichen (C1)
June 28-29: Champéry (C1)
July 12-13: Savognin (C2)
July 19-20: Seon
September 6-7: Bern (Final) (HC)
For more information, visit www.swisspowercup.ch.
Kona and IMBA team up for Epic Rides
Kona Bicycle Company has stepped up its support of epic mountain bike
riding by partnering with IMBA to promote four IMBA Epic rides in 2008.
The rides will be open to the public and showcase some of the best riding
in North America. The schedule is listed below.
June 21: Mid Mountain Epic ride, in conjunction with the IMBA World
Summit in Park City, Utah
August 9-17: Comfortably Numb Epic ride in conjunction with Crankworx
festival in Whistler, British Columbia
May 2-4: Midwest Mountain Bike Summit ride in Peoria, Illinois
August 30-September 1: Loon Lake Epic ride in Tamarack, Idaho, in conjunction
with the NMBS finals
Gunn-Rita diary: Testing time
Last Sunday [March 16 - ed.] we went out and tested the new addition
to the GunnRita Marathon race track. The track had to be lengthened due
to the requirements for the marathon cycling discipline. Moreover, Italy
is hosting the European Championships in Marathon cycling in 2010 and
the Italian Championships in 2009. So this year you can go for the - Extreme-
distance of 113 kilometres!
We met an enthusiastic group of over 50 cyclists at 10:00 am on Sunday.
Weather-wise we had a bit of drizzle and fog, but with 10 degrees above
freezing we were okay for a ride in the forest. We had a fantastic trip
in exciting terrain, surrounded by beautiful nature. A bit of rain during
the past weeks had affected some of the track, but we only had to push
the bikes up one hill due to mud.
The new section of the course is in more open landscape than the rest
of the GunnRita Marathon track. There's a bit more gravel road and grassy
fields in the new section, and less of the exciting tracks where you get
the feeling youre cycling through a tunnel of green foliage and
grass. Even so, there are a good deal of short, steep climbs and descents,
all on really nice and exciting tracks. There's a lot of up and down,
a lot of twists and turns, and very few long flat stretches. In other
words no chance of getting bored and time flies by. We had the same feeling
when we did the GunnRita Marathon race during spring last year.
Read the complete
Châtel to host snowy downhill
On Saturday, March 29, snow mountain bike downhill racing comes to Châtel,
France. The Razor Snowbike, which will also involve skis and snowboards,
will take place on the Linga Stadium slope. For more information, visit
Looking further ahead, Châtel will also hold a Freeride 2008 VTT
competition July 4-6.
Photo ©: VisitPA.com
VisitPA.com, the state of Pennsylvania's tourism agency has announced
its official 2008 Mountain Bike Team. Since its inception four years ago,
the team has been logging regular podium appearances in the Mid-Atlantic
region while simultaneously promoting Pennsylvania outdoor recreation.
All nine members will compete primarily in the Mid Atlantic Super Series
(MASS), regional USAC events and the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) MTB
Series. New to the team is 2007 24 hour National Points Series Solo winner
and endurance specialist Rob Lichtenwalner. Returning members include
two 2007 USAC National MTB Champions: Weston Schempf, who claimed the
US Semi Pro short track title as well as the Mid-Atlantic Cross Country
Super Series title and Mike Yozell who earned a Master's Cross Country
Championship; co-captains Mike Kuhn and Ray Adams; endurance specialist
Michelle Stopper; MASS Short Track series champion and former cyclo-cross
National Champion Ryan Leech; and cross country specialists Nancy Adams
and Mike Hebe. The team will ride Cannondale bikes.
VisitPA.com for 2008
Ray Adams, 30 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Pro)
Nancy Adams, 30 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (Expert)
Mike Hebe, 40 Camp Hill, Pennsylvania (Semi-Pro)
Mike Kuhn, 34 Center Valley, Pennsylvania (Semi-Pro)
Ryan Leech, 30 Center Valley, Pennsylvania (Semi-Pro)
Rob Lichtenwalner, 30 Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (Pro)
Weston Schempf, 30 Reading, Pennsylvania (Semi-Pro)
Michelle Stopper, 30 Williamsport, Pennsylvania (Expert)
Mike Yozell, 39 Emmaus, Pennsylvania (Semi-Pro)
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)