MTB news & racing round-up for May 16, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
NMBS round three returns to California
By Dave McElwaine
The National Mountain Bike Series (NMBS) resumes this coming weekend
amidst the vineyards of the Chamberlain Ranch in Los Olivos, California.
Without any conflicting World Cup cross country races, a full contingent
of North American racers will be on hand to do battle on the steep, grassy,
hills of the ranch. Notable exceptions will be US National Champions Adam
Craig (Giant) and Mary McConneloug (Kenda / Seven) who both opted to stay
in Europe to completely focus on the next World Cup in Andorra coming
up on June 1.
Georgia Gould (Luna MTB Team) is
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
Georgia Gould (Luna) is the favorite and she is expected to maintain
her lead in the NMBS cross country series over team-mate Katerina Nash.
Currently only 20 points separate them in the standings. Gould's streak
of consecutive wins now spans back to the 2006 race season. This season
so far, she has also finished fifth at the World Cups in Houffalize, Belgium
and Madrid, Spain, and she appears to be riding at a level just slightly
below World Champion Irina Kalentieva (Topeak / Ergon), and Canada's Marie-Helene
Premont. In last year's NMBS round at Santa Ynez, Gould rode quickly off
the front, and at one point had a three and a half minute lead over the
chasers. Wendy Simms (Kona), who rode solid races at the three opening
World Cups, is currently in third place in the NMBS series.
The Luna Women's Mountain Bike Team is presently ranked first in the
world after winning the team competitions in all three World Cup races
so far. The signing of Canada's Catherine Pendrel has allowed them to
surpass even the impressive Chinese National Team. Pendrel, Gould, and
Nash all placed in the top ten in Madrid. At Santa Ynez, Luna will also
have on hand US National U23 and collegiate champion Chloe Forsman, who
last season scored some top ten finishes. Former NMBS Champion Shonny
Vanlandingham has been focusing on endurance events and will compete in
the X-Terra race in Temecula, California this weekend.
Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) winning NMBS
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
While many of the top racers were at the three World Cup races, those
who stayed home competed at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterrey, California.
Both Sea Otter and the Madrid World Cup race courses have similarities
with the cross country course at Santa Ynez. All three feature fast, hard
packed, often dusty trails, along with mostly open terrain, plenty of
cumulative climbing, and screaming descents. While Santa Ynez will not
be that fast, speeds will be quite high on the 8.4 mile pro loop. Last
year's chase groups could be seen trading pulls in pacelines as drafting
was a critical part of the race. The course also features many off-camber
singletrack sections on hillsides so steep that passing is virtually impossible.
The initial climb that the riders face on the course will surely force
many off their bikes. If one person puts a foot down, dozens of riders
are behind them will be forced to tackle the hill on foot.
In the men's racing, Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) will be looking to extend
his lead in the cross country series - especially given the absence of
the second-place Craig. The competition should be quite high, however,
as both Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (JHK) (Subaru/Gary Fisher), and Todd Wells
(GT Bicycles) have bested Kabush on at least one occasion in Europe. All
the racers are hoping that their form is still improving at this time
of year and they will measure that by how they fare against those that
they will face at the next World Cups.
Barry Wicks, who was ill in Madrid, currently holds third place in the
NMBS and has looked strong this year. At the Houffalize World Cup, he
passed 60 racers, a feat that nearly impossible given the high level of
competition on the World Cup circuit.
The surprise racer from the 2007 Santa Ynez event was Max Plaxton (Rocky
Mountain) who won the short track and was part of the lead group of four
in the cross country. While he did not have good luck or form at the first
three World Cups this year, he will no doubt be looking to get some results
at Santa Ynez. Another racer to watch is Mathieu Toulouse (Maxxis) who
finished fifth last year despite having no drafting help the entire race.
The lead group of Plaxton, Wicks, JHK, and Kabush never opened a significant
gap on Toulouse because of tactical in-fighting. Toulouse had commented
after the race "I just rode steady while those guys would speed up
and slow down."
Read the complete
preview and stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete coverage.
Fullana ready for European championships
Margarita Fullana (Massi)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
After a week off following three consecutive World Cup events, many top
European racers will be heading to St. Wendel, Germany, this weekend for
the cross country European Championship. Marga Fullana (Massi), who finished
third at the most recent round of the World Cup in Madrid, Spain, will
fight for the first international title of the season.
After a team relay on Friday, Fullana will race the cross country on
Sunday. Although the European title is not one of Fullana's primary objectives
for the season, she will still be aiming for the podium. The European
Championships comes just one month before the World Championships in Val
di Sole, so many top athletes are not preparing specifically for the continental
championships, but are focusing more on the Worlds.
Last year, Fullana had to miss the European championships due to a fracture
of the head of the radius bone; however, she won the title in 2006 in
Chies d' Alpago, Italy.
Considering the World Cup results thus far, other favorites for the women's
race are Russian Irina Kalentieva (Ergon / Topeak), Norway's Gunn-Rita
Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida) and Sabine Spitz (Team Central Ghost),
although the latter played down her chances. "I am highly motivated,
however, I am not yet in top form. I have not succeeded in fully recovering
and compensating for a viral infection," said Spitz.
Seven races for elite, U23 and junior categories will held on the 7.9km
course, with 270m elevation change, during three days.
Great Britain selects team for European XC Championships
British Cycling has selected its riders for the European Cross Country
Championships in St. Wendel, Germany from May 16 to 18. Included in the
11-person line up are Commonwealth Gold medallist Liam Killeen, World
Championship bronze medallist David Fletcher, brothers Ross and Hamish
Creber as well as a crop of youngsters who have risen through British
Cycling's rider development programmes.
Great Britain for European Cross Country Championships
Elite: Jenny Copnall, Liam Killeen, Ian Wilkinson
Under 23: Ian Bibby, Ross Creber, David Fletcher
Junior: Seb Batchelor, Hamish Creber, Annie Last, Alex Paton, Annie Simpson
O'Deas ready for "home" 24 hr race in Conyers, Georgia
Namrita O'Dea pushes through the
sand on her way to a round one NPS win
Photo ©: Vassago Cycles
Round two of the Suzuki 24 Hour National Points Series (NPS) will head
to the 1996 Olympic venue at the International horse Park of Conyers,
Georgia, on May 17-18. Cyclingnews'
diarists Eddie and Namrita O'Dea will be among those aiming for wins.
"You always feel a little extra pressure racing on your home course,"
said Eddie O'Dea. "I set this out as the race I wanted to win at
the start of my 24 [hour] career, and I haven't done that yet. This is
actually my fifth time racing at Conyers-some with success, others with
spectacular failure. Last year I had a series of mechanicals, I lost my
rear derailleur on lap one, then chasing back onto the front I lost too
"The first race I did here, back in 2004, was the best I've done,
completing 23 or 24 laps," he recalled fondly. "It's pretty
much the same course as back then."
In the men's solo category, Eddie O'Dea will race against 2007 NPS champion,
Rob Lichtenwalner, who finished one place ahead of him at the opener at
the 2008 season opener 24 Hours
of Vail Lake.
Namrita O'Dea who won round one at Vail Lake is aiming again for the
top spot on the podium. "That's my goal, that's what I'm going there
for. But there's always a few strong women that show up for the Conyers
race, so we'll just have to see."
The course may lack lung-searing climbs at altitude, but with fast doubletrack
interspersed with rolling, technical singletrack sections, Conyers is
far from a stroll through the park for the racers. "It's a surprisingly
challenging course," said promoter Laird Knight of Granny Gear Productions.
"The climbs are few, but over on the granite at the back end of the
course, they're short and steep. You're always on the gas and the course
keeps your heart rate pegged, it definitely favors sprinters but theyll
have to keep it up lap after lap."
After Conyers, the series will head to Big Bear, West Virginia on June
7-8; Killington, Vermont on July 26-27, Landahl, Missouri on September
20-21 and Moab Utah on October 11-12.
For more information on the Conyers event or the series, visit www.grannygear.com.
New stage race for Australia
Australia's high country will become a mountain biking mecca when hundreds
of riders descend on the Snowies for the inaugural Alps Epic stage race
scheduled for March 2009. The event will cover eight stages in five days,
moving from town to town each day. The tracks will include new and existing
trails and fireroad in the Kosciuszko National Park and surrounding areas.
The area is famous for its mountains, rivers, lakes and scenery.
Stages in the Snowy Mountain region will range from short 8km time trails
to longer 60km marathon legs. Stages and host towns will be announced
six months before the event. More details will be available at www.alpsepic.com.au
after the formal launch on May 30.
Doubleheader of 4X racing to Bridgnorth
Round two of the British National 4X Series will head to the Edge - Bridgnorth
on Saturday, May 17. It will be immediately followed by the 4X British
National Championship on Sunday, May 18.
The track has been cut deep into the hillside to make a fast track with
massive berms and big jumps. Dale Holmes is flying in from the US to defend
his title and he'll be up against current 4X Series Champion Scott Beaumont,
2006 National Champion Will Longden and 2006 Series Champion Martin Ogden.
The winner of the elite men's race will be selected to represent Britain
at the UCI World Championships at Val Di Sole in Italy on June 19.
For more information, visit www.nps4x.com
Speedy and Muhl in national series duel
Olympic hopeful Yolande Speedy will head up the women's field for the
final round of the South African Mazda MTN National Cross-Country Series
at the new Mankele Mountain Bike Park at Nelspruit, Mpumalanga this weekend
In the absence of the South African champion and National Series leader
Amy Jane Mundy (Jeep) who is recovering from a viral infection, Speedy
(IMC Racing Activeworx) will be doing battle with Sara Muhl (Jeep) for
the 2008 title in the elite women's category.
Muhl, who won round four in George last month, has 960 points to Speedy's
910, setting the scene for a close finish since Mundy's points stand at
1100. A win is worth 200 points and second place worth 150. Muhl has also
completed four rounds while Speedy has raced three. The final points are
taken on a rider's four best finishes.
"It would be nice to win the National Series title, but right now
my main focus is on preparing for the Olympics," said Speedy. "I
will be at Mankele for a few days as part of a training camp. Saturday's
race will be part of my Games build-up as I need as much racing in my
legs as possible to improve my general conditioning and my speed."
Speedy recently returned from Europe where she raced in three World Cups,
finishing a little lower down the field than she did last year when she
impressed with some strong results which pushed her up to 25th in the
"I wasn't in peak form for these World Cups because I had been ill
just before I left, but I did find out where I am and where I need to
be and every race I can fit in now will be valuable," said Speedy,
adding that she is looking forward to the new challenge the Mankele course
Mike & Mary diary: On the road again for the spring European campaign
Mary on the start line
Photo ©: Mike Broderick & Mary McConneloug
The anticipation of travelling in Europe for several months on end to
race bikes is always a bit daunting, and this year proved to be no exception.
After returning from a two-week season opening race trip in Puerto Rico
and Venezuela, Mary and I spent a BUSY week at our East Coast home base
sorting papers, contacting friends/ sponsors, and equipping our bikes
with the latest '08 gear. We really had to touch on a bit of everything
including some serious training all aimed at getting everything in line
for the World Cup races and another significant travel event. In the end
we did all that was humanly possible before assembling a jumble of critical
things into our huge overweight bike bags and paying dearly to lug them
onto the plane.
This is our fifth year of renting an RV for an extended bout of European
racing and this time it actually felt a bit like returning home. Our friends
from the RV rental company (www.rv-rental-germany.com) meet us at the
Munich airport to help out with the incredible mass of gear and once again
get us started on the right foot for another Euro journey. Moving into
any car for two-plus months is always a bit claustrophobic at first, but
the convenience of having everything you need cooking facilities,
bathroom, bike storage, etc, all at arms reach makes it pretty convenient.
Still its pretty realistic to say that with two people living in a car
you are always somehow in the way of the another other unless you are
outside. Still, for better or worse, this is our chosen style, it works
out really well for attending and traveling to the European races and
is something that we really enjoy, most of the time.
Mary and I have often found ourselves at our best while on the go and
living without the distractions and the sweet, yet somehow cumbersome
comforts of the real world. The simplicity of a vehicle to live in, and
just enough equipment and gear to handle the job seems to be our most
effective strategy for attending races . We tested this theory once again
on our most current leg of the journey, competing in three World Cups
in as many weeks. We began in Houffalize, Belgium, for the season opener,
then on to nearby Offenburg, Germany, and most recently in the not so
near by Madrid, Spain.
Read the complete diary
NorCal fundraiser to educate cyclists about mental fitness
As a fundraiser for the NorCal High School Mountain Bike League, sports
psychologist Marvin Zauderer will give a talk called "The 5 Core
Skills of Mentally Fit Athletes" on Thursday, June 5 in San Rafeal,
California. In a sport where mental fitness often sets apart winners from
the rest, Zauderer will offer tools useful to competitive athletes, recreational
athletes, coaches, and parents of athletes.
The talk is free for Marin Cyclists and NorCal League members. A donation
of US$10 (or more) is suggested for all others. It will begin at 7:00
pm, with Q&A beginning at 8:00 pm and will be held at the San Rafael
Corporate Center, Tamalpais Room, at 750 Lindaro Street, just off Highway
101 at the Central San Rafael exit.
For more information, visit www.norcalmtb.org.
Freeride rookies given chance at Adidas Slopestyle
The Sponsoree Ticket2Style contest will give five up and coming freeriders
a chance to qualify for the Adidas Slopestyle competition. Held just one
day before the main competition, aspiring pro freeriders who have not
yet competed internationally will get to demonstrate their skills before
a vast audience and qualify for the next day's main event with the pros.
"Assisting young mountain bike talents is close to our hearts. Therefore,
we are delighted to host an international rookie event in the scope of
the Adidas Slopestyle," said Markus Flossmann, managing director
of Sponsoree Germany GmbH. "It is our goal to provide athletes who
have a lot of talent but virtually no contacts in the industry with a
platform to present themselves.".
The five best newcomers of the Sponsoree Ticket2Style contest, that takes
place in Saalbach Hinterglemm one day prior to the Adidas Slopestyle 2008,
on Thursday 31 July, will win an entry for the invitational contest to
which only the forty best freeriders in the world are invited.
To apply for the contest, visit www.adidas-slopestyle.com. Of all applicants
16 years of age or older, the best 100 rookies will be selected and invited
to Saalbach Hinterglemm.
Aussie racing schedule changes
Some changes have been made to the Australian Mountain X and Dual Slalom
series running from May through August. The revised schedule is listed
below. Australian cross country racers will also get their chance at action
with the all-new Mountain Bike Grand Prix 2008, set for October 4-5 in
Yellomundee, Lower Blue Mountains. It will kick off the spring cross country
racing season down under. For more information on the MTB Grand Prix 2008,
Australian Mountain X Series 2008 (remaining events)
May 18: Round 2 Goulburn, NSW (hostedy by CORC)
June 15: Round 3 Ebenezer, NSW (hosted by WSMTB)
August 3: Round 4 - Stromlo, ACT (hostedy by CORC)
August 24: NSW/ACT Championships Kurrajong, NSW (hosted by WSMTB)
Australian Dual Slalom Series 2008 (remaining events)
August 2: Round 4 - Stromlo, ACT - (hostedy by CORC)
August 23: NSW/ACT Championships Kurrajong, NSW (hosted by WSMTB)
Auction to raise funds for injured Murray
An auction of an autographed, size large Steve Peat's personalized race
kit will happen next week to benefit Stephen Murray, a professional dirt
jumper and BMXer who crashed in June 2007 during a double back flip at
the AST Dew Tour BMX Dirt Finals in Baltimore, Maryland. The 27 year-old
Murray, a husband and father of two young children, sustained career-ending
injuries to his spinal cord and vertebrae and is presently paralyzed.
For more information on the auction or to contribute to a fund supporting
him, visit www.stephenmurray.org.
Roc du Littoral
Some racers not otherwise engaged at the European Championships may
find themselves racing at the next Watch Valley Cup, the Roc du Littoral,
on Sunday, May 18. The 16 edition of the race starts and finishes in Hauterive,
France, with distances varying by category from 14 to 32 km. For more
information, visit http://www.cclittoral.ch.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)