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MTB news & racing round-up for May 23, 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

SoBe/Cannondale team back in action

By Sue George

Downhiller Darian Harvey and manager Matt Jewett
Photo ©: Sue George
(Click for larger image)

It's impossible to miss the bright orange-clad SoBe / Cannondale riders and their bikes at races all over the US. The team is back in action for 2008 under its old name and sponsors.

Riders like Jenna Zander, Kathy Sherwin, Nina Baum, Wendy Reynolds, Darian Harvey, Cody Adams, Jonathan Buckell, Damian Calvert and Great Divide winner Matt Lee have been making their mark thus far this season. Altogether, the team fields approximately 50 male and female racers in the disciplines of gravity, cross country, ultra-endurance and adventure racing.

"We have a great group of people," said Matt Jewett, director of partnership marketing for Cannondale to Cyclingnews. "Some people measure success on the podium and yes, we pay attention to it, but we look at success as having fun." Jewett described the team as comprised of racers who are ambassadors for "a healthy lifestyle and the outright fun of participatory sports."

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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The first SoBe / Cannondale team ran from 1998 to 2003, and fielded top amateur and pro riders nationwide. The grassroots team nurtured talent like Amber Neben, Tom Danielson and Shonny Vanlandingham, all en route to successful pro careers. "When SoBe stepped away, it was right after [parent company] Pepsi was purchased. Our contract was set to expire and they chose not to renew."

The SoBe Cannondale team
Photo ©: Matt Jewett
(Click for larger image)

Without the original title sponsor, the team continued on - for one year with the sole support of Cannondale and for two years with Bear Naked, yet the team's relationship with the original sponsor stayed strong. "All the years we weren't sponsored by SoBe, we stayed in touch with them."

The team's emphasis on relationships extends beyond relations with sponsors and beyond the period when any given racer is actively on the team. "For example, we've had about six ex-team members become Cannondale reps," said Jewett thinking back.

The return of a non-cycling sponsor to mountain biking has Jewett optimistic about the future - especially during a time when some non-cycling industry sponsors have stepped away from the sport. "As excited as I am for the team's program, I'm more excited for the sport," said Jewett.

The reincarnated team differs slightly from the original. "We've trended younger, and 80% of our riders are either pro, semi-pro or expert category riders." The pro-am team is comprised of riders ranging from 17 to 40 years-old.

During its three-year contract term, which started this year, the team will be highly visible at its national events. Mechanic Eric Saletel is driving the team truck, with 36-foot trailer fully emblazoned with the team's distinctive graphics.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Sue George / Cyclingnews

Images by Matt Jewett

Images by Dusty Bermshot

Mountain bikers and 'cross racers respond to Fumics

Sabine Spitz was the first to sign the petition
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

Thirty seven cyclo-cross and mountain bike riders and team officials have issued an open letter addressing the anti-doping measures in the sport, and distancing themselves from Lado and Manuel Fumic, who have criticised the measures.

The Fumic brothers were suspended by the Bund Deutsche Radfahrer (German cycling federation) for failing to file their "whereabouts". They were later allowed to continue riding after appealing the decision. The brothers had protested against the "whereabouts" requirement, saying it was impossible to say three months in advance where they would be, and that the National Anti-Doping Agency violated their personal rights.

The athletes rejected the brothers' views, and noted that the anti-doping program had its problems, but that it served the purpose and was not the "total observation" that the brothers claimed.

The letter noted that while the brothers had a right to their opinion, it was not shared by all others within the sport. The system is "a sensible way to win back cycling's credibility and to present mountain biking as a clean sport".

The riders said that they were willing to accept these measures "because we are convinced that this is the only way to equalize things, to protect our health, and to be good role models for younger riders."

While admitting that filling out the "whereabouts" forms was a time-consuming activity, "we do not see it as a violation of our personal rights. We certainly do not feel as if we are being treated as criminals."

"We are not forced to tell our location three months in advance. It is always possible to send in a form not filled out. It is then assumed that we are at home at this period. If that changes, it can be sent in on the internet ADAMS system, or in an emergency, via a text-message," the letter went on to say.

Nor did they feel as if they were being observed by "Big Brother". "The system makes intelligent controls possible. That increases the chances of discovering cheaters and so protecting the clean athletes."

"The position and statements of the Fumic brothers have negative consequences for us mountain bikers, as far as public opinion is concerned. We vigorously defend ourselves from being associated with these views of Ludo and Manuel Fumic," the latter concluded.

The letter was circulated by the management of European Champion Sabine Spitz, who was the first to sign. Florian Vogel, Thomas Frischknecht, Nino Schurter and Nina Wrobel were among the riders who signed.

Going long at the Anaconda

Alex Stone at the Anaconda MTB Enduro
Photo ©: Rapid Ascent
(Click for larger image)

While many racers are enjoying a mid-week break between busy race weekends, endurance mountain bikers down under are busy with the Anaconda MTB Enduro, a stage race that started May 19 and runs through May 23, with some multiple stage days thrown in. After stage four, an epic 95km marathon from Ross River Station back into the Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge in Alice Springs, Australia, Adrian Jackson and Naomi Hansen were leading the men's and women's categories respectively.

The Anaconda MTB Enduro replaces the former Central Australian Bike Challenge (CABA) event. Time trials, cross country routes and night-time races over corrugated roads, loose rocks, singletrack and sandy patches, are just some of the interesting challenges thrown at racers to keep them on their toes.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Anaconda Enduro.

Swisspower cup

Round four of the Swisspower Cup heads to Gränichen on Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25, after a pause of several weeks due to three World Cups and the European Championships.

Favorites for the race would include last year's second place Lukas Flückiger, newly crowned European champion Florian Vogel, Ralph Näf, Christoph Sauser, Thomas Frischknecht, U23 racer Matthias Flückiger, and Silvio Bundi and Jean-Christophe Peraud. In the women's race, European champion Sabine Spitz of Germany is an obvious favorite. Her likely adversaries include marathon world champion Petra Henzi, Maroussia Rusca, Renata Bucher and Kathrin Leumann.

However, some racers are choosing to take a break from competition. For example, newly crowned European champion Florian Vogel and Swiss racers Nino Schurter and Nathalie Schneitter will not compete in Aargau. They will enjoy a race-free weekend as they prepare for the upcoming World Cups and World Championships.

For more information on the Swisspower Cup round four, visit www.swisspowercup.ch

Trips for Kids workshop set for IMBA World Summit

Trips for Kids (TFK) will host a full-day conference for its chapter leaders and those interested in starting a chapter prior to the IMBA World Summit in Park City, Utah. The workshop is scheduled from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on June 18 at the Park City Marriott.

"Trips for Kids is honored to partner with IMBA at its upcoming World Summit," said Marilyn Price, founder and director of TFK. "Many TFK chapters consist of IMBA members, and IMBA clubs are natural vehicles to start TFK chapters, so it made sense to meet together before the conference to share ideas and best practices."

The TFK Pre-Conference Workshop will address how to start and promote a program, respond to challenges, use the bicycle as an education tool and guarantee the long-term success of an individual chapter.

"The goal of adding youth topics to the IMBA Summit agenda and including Trips for Kids in the session is to identify barriers, find solutions and ultimately inspire more youth biking programs around the globe," said Mike Van Abel, director of IMBA. Some scholarships are available to help chapter leaders attend.

The 2008 IMBA World Summit follows the TFK workshop and runs from June 18-21. To RSVP for the TFK Pre-Conference, call 415-458-2986 or send an email to national@tripsforkids.org.

Memorial fundraiser for Mark A Reynolds

A fundraiser in honor of a rider who died at Sea Otter is being held in conjunction with the CCCX Downhill Race Series this season. Mark A. Reynolds crashed while competing in the downhill race during the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, in April. The 48 year-old was the owner of Wicked Racin and innovator of the Dualrailluer Guide for which is in process of being patented as the first dual chain ring guide.

Members of the Evomo Mountain Bike Team stepped forward to organize the memorial fund raiser in Reynolds' name. "I feel it's the right thing to do and I really feel for the family who had to hear such terrible news," said Tom Judy, Evomo Downhill Team Member.

Reynolds' family hopes to contribute to a freeride or jump park that will be named after Mark - thereby continuing his legacy of supporting the sport. A raffle will be held at the CCCX Downhill Race Series race on Sunday, June 22 at Toro Park near Monterey. Products for the raffle have been donated by Fox Racing Shox, Evomo, X-Fusion, Pactimo, Stan's No Tubes, Cool Cycling Club, Calabazas Cyclery, Trailhead Cyclery, and Auburn Bike Works.

To donate to the fund in Reynolds' name, visit www.wickedracin.com or send a check to Memorial Fund for Mark Reynolds, 1295 Blewett Ave., San Jose, CA 95125 USA.

Speedgoat bike supports breast cancer fight

Speedgoat Bicycles is offering another one-of-a-kind bicycle to be raffled off to fight breast cancer. All proceeds from this year's event again go to support Breast Cancer Fund, in their search for environmental links to cancer, and their promotion of consumer awareness.

The bike includes a new Niner Jet 9 frame, a Fox F29 suspension fork, Industry Nine & NoTubes.com wheels, Hope brakes, headset & seatpost clamp, and Ritchey stem, carbon bar & post, Shimano XTR drivetrain, WTB saddle, and Continental Mountain King tires.

To date, Speedgoat's custom pink bikes have raised over US$48,000 to help Breast Cancer Fund's research into environmental contaminants, and the preventable causes of cancer. Public auction begins on May 23. To enter the raffle, visit www.speedgoat.com/raffle1.asp or to find more out about the Breast Cancer Fund, visit www.breastcancerfund.org.

Rocky Mountain partners with IMBA

Rocky Mountain Bicycles stepped up its partnership with IMBA. The Canadian bicycle company signed a deal with IMBA in which it will offer bikes to members of the National Mountain Bike Patrol (NMBP) at a discount. The program, which went into effect May 15, runs directly through local RMB dealers, who will special order bicycles for patrollers with current NMBP membership in good standing for at least six months.

For more information on the program, contact a local dealer. For more information on the NMBP, contact Spencer Powlison, at patrol@imba.com.

Hong Kong MTB series

Hong Kong has a new four-race mountain bike series which will begin June 1. HK$5,000 in cash will go to the series winner. Events are scheduled for June 1, September 21, October 19 and November 23. Individuals and teams of two are welcome. For more information, visit www.actionasia.com/aae.

The BURN 24 Hour Challenge

The Burn 24 hour Challenge will feature solo and team relay racing at the Dark Mountain Trails in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, this weekend on May 24-25. For more information, visit /www.burn24hour.com.

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