MTB news & racing round-up for November 7, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Australian Team TORQ ramps up for new season
By Sue George
The TORQ team
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
The TORQ/VIS team is getting an early start on the 2009 season. Based
in Australia, the team has registered as a UCI mountain bike trade team
for next year, but is already busy racing at home; the first
round of the Australian national series kicked off in early November
"We have developed a highly visible and well organised team made
up of some of Australia's top riders," said manager Genevieve Clark.
"Our plan is to focus on the national mountain bike events with some
of our riders also crossing over for some of the major road races. Our
priority is the riders and our aim is to help develop the sport of cycling."
The team is set up as a two-tiered system. Tier 1 is called the TORQ/VIS
Team and includes Victoria's top riders and current VIS scholarship recipients
Tory Thomas, Robbie Hucker, and Cal Britton. Tier 2, known as the TORQ
Team, comprises elite riders and developing riders. The Victorian Institute
of Sport (VIS) will use this second tier team as a development team.
"We are providing a great development platform for our non VIS riders
and offer the highest level of support to our team," said Clark.
The TORQ team began in 2008, as a natural extension of the original team
established in 2007. It aims to provide both sponsorship and on the ground
support for its racers.
During the 2008-2009 season, both tiers have their sights set on strong
results in the Australian MTB National Series, National Championships
and Oceania Continental Championships. Some members of the team will be
heading to Europe for the World Cups, which are an important part of Australian
national team selection process for the 2009 World Championships to be
held in Canberra, Australia.
Dan McConnell is one of the team's best-known athletes. He represented
Australia at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Tory Thomas has
also won her national cross country, marathon and 24 hour solo championships
as well as the national cross country series overall. Luke Fetch and Robbie
Hucker are both promising young juniors representing Australia at the
As for the rest, Clark said, "The majority of the team's riders
are up and coming. Even though the elite women riders are in their late
20s, they have really only been racing for a couple of years and are really
improving with each race.
"Jo [Wall] and Katherine [O'Shea are part of the AIS Dirt Roads
to London Program, and Tory Thomas is a full scholarship holder at the
VIS. The U23 riders are the obvious up-and-comers Robbie [Hucker]
and Cal [Britton] are recipients of VIS scholarships, and Luke was selected
for the World Champs in Italy this year."
The team's top priority is racing Olympic distance cross country events,
but it will keep fresh by mixing in short track, marathon and endurance
TORQ Team for 2008-9
Elite men: James Maebus, Dan McConnell
Elite women: Katherine O'Shea, Tory Thomas, Joanna Wall
U23 men: Cal Britton, Luke Fetch, Robbie Hucker, Steele von Hoff, Paul
Staff: Genevieve Clark (manager), Dean Clark (assistant manager), Garron
Buckland (coach), Tim Retchford ( physio), DC (mechanic)
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for a team diary starting soon!
Matt Fritzinger: Schooling the next generation
By Gary Boulanger, Bike Radar
Photo ©: Gary Boulanger
Children are facing mounting pressures from society. For many in the
United States, their main outlet is organized sports. But what if a child
doesn't fancy basketball, football, baseball or soccer? The NorCal High
School Mountain Bike Racing League, headed by Matt Fritzinger, offers
riding and racing opportunities for youths.
Illinois native Fritzinger decided to change things 10 years ago, and
the fruits of his labour are evident in the NorCal High School Mountain
Bike Racing League, based in Berkeley, California.
The 37 year-old former high school teacher dabbled in pole vaulting,
cross-country running and swimming in his hometown of Libertyville, but
was mediocre at best. It was his time spent on the Northbrook velodrome
near his house that had the greatest impact on his earlier athletic career.
Cycling was enough to scratch the athletic itch in Fritzinger, who spent
two years racing for the collegiate cycling team at the University of
California-Berkeley in the 1990s.
Bike Radar sat down with Fritzinger at Drake High School in San
Anselmo, California, at the conclusion of his annual Leader's Summit.
The congenial cyclist had just returned from a ride on the fabled trails
of Camp Tamarancho in nearby Fairfax, birthplace of the modern mountain
bike. We discussed the past, present and future of the League, as the
long shadow of Mount Tamalpais loomed over the parking lot.
BikeRadar: Tell me about the genesis for the NorCal league.
Matt Fritzinger: Several things came together. Bike racing became
a big thing for me in college at UC-Berkeley but, due to an injury, I
couldn't ride for five years, so I needed to find other things at that
time. I went from becoming a mechanical engineer to becoming a school
teacher. I was finally strong enough to race a bike during my earliest
years of teaching. I was getting my teaching credentials at night, so
I was able to get serious about bike racing again during that period.
The Girls' State Championship race
Photo ©: Robert Lowe
I became envious of other teachers who were getting out of staff meetings
to go coach basketball, baseball or other sports, so I decided to start
a bike club at Berkeley High School 10 years ago. The original plan was
to start a road team, but it made more sense to launch with a mountain
It was during those early years that I was gaining ground as a Category
3 racer, achieving a long-term goal of racing in Northern Italy for an
entire summer in 2000. I had the fitness, health (and enough money) to
get the life-of-a-pro experience at a legit cycling camp. My coach was
Ron Palazzo at the Velo Veneto Camp. It was the first time I'd ever had
a coach. He was (and still is) an amazing coach. He inspired me to become
a true coach in every sense of the word.
The 10-week experience in Italy opened my eyes to how a whole community
gets behind a sport - families, local businesses, etc. So when I returned
to California, I didn't have another goal beyond teaching. I started working
on the plan for the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League in
the fall of 2000. By the spring of 2001 we launched our first six-race
series. By the end of our first season four teams had organized themselves.
Read the complete
Cyprus Sunshine Cup set for 2009
Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls)
Photo ©: Armin M. Kuestenbrueck
It's never too soon to start thinking about early season races for 2009.
First on the list for many pros will be the Cyprus Sunshine Cup with its
four rounds commencing on February 22, 2009, and running through March
15. Well known series venues Tochni, Voroklini and the Afxentia stage
race will be joined by a new one at Amathous.
"I think we are offering another good package of races, and I'm
excited to present a new location," said organizer Michalis Hadijoannou.
"I reckon that a lot of pro riders will use the races as an important
part of their preparation for the World Cup season."
The Sunshine Cup will kick off with a point to point race from Tochni
to Kalavasos. Next up in late February through early March is the Afxentia
stage race with three stages including a time trial, point to point and
cross country races. On March 8, the action moves to Amathous which will
offer a demanding course and scenic views for the new race. As in previous
years, Voroklini will host the final round.
All four events will be UCI Category 1 events, including the Afxentia,
which is technically categorized as an "S1" stage race.
Cyprus Sunshine Cup 2009
February 22: Tochni-Kalavasos (1)
February 27 - March 1: Afxentia/Macheras Mountains (S1)
March 8: März Amathous-Agios-Tychon (1)
March 15: März Voroklini (1)
NUE series awards finishers
The National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series is awarding all participants
who qualified for the final standings in 2008. 45 total racers completed
four or more of the 100 mile races. For their efforts, they will receive
a customized Cannondale "Feel It" Jacket.
In addition, division winners Jeff Schalk (elite men), Cheryl Sornson
(elite women), John Mylne (singlespeed) and Greg Turner (Masters 50+)
will receive custom Endura series championships jerseys.
In addition to cash awards provided by sponsor Smith & Nephew, some
qualifiers will receive merchandise provided by other series' sponsors.
Check out final standings
for the 2008 NUE series and stayed tuned to Cyclingnews for
more information on the 2009 NUE series coming soon.
Trek World Cup Team signs Leov & Neethling
Photo ©: Sue George
One month following the signing of three
cross country team members, Trek Bicycles announced the remaining
half of the team will comprise three downhillers. Justin Leov of New Zealand
and Andrew Neethling of South Africa will fill the two men's slots while
the remaining women's place will be announced on December 1.
Having just turned 24, Leov is coming off a successful 2008, most notable
for his sixth place finish at the World Championship - the best-ever performance
by a New Zealand man in the downhill.
Also 24, Neethling has progressed during his past three seasons of racing.
He finished sixth on the physical track at this year's Canberra World
Cup, which will double as the venue for the 2009 World Championships,
and he made the top 10 on the steep and technical Schladming World Cup
course in Austria.
"Apart from always striving to run one of the most professional
teams on the circuit, one of my goals has always been to take riders and
give them the opportunity to shine and reach their absolute goals,"
said Team Director Martin Whiteley. "In the case of these two talented
top 10 riders and our new program, we will be giving them every opportunity
to further improve on their results to date.
"With the first round of the World Cup in South Africa next year,
we are thrilled to have a super competitive South African on the team,
and we feel that our combination of two top ten men, and a top level woman,
will put us in a good place to compete with the leading gravity teams
for the coveted UCI downhill team trophy, something our teams have won
three times before."
Team Combee picks up sponsor
By Marcel Slagman
Merida Combee Team
Photo ©: Marcel Slagman
The Dutch mountain bike team Leo Combee picked up a new sponsor and will
race under the new name Merida-Combee in 2009. The team also signed Bas
Peters, Laura Turpijn and Niels Wubben, all of whom used to ride for the
now-defunct Herbalife-Merida team.
Peters is the current Dutch marathon champion, and he also finished
third at the World Championship in 2003. Turpijn is also a Dutch marathon
champion, and she won the cross country national title in 2007. Wubbens
is a talented young racer who finished third at the University World Championships
Team manager and sponsor Leo Combee is a former motorcross rider interested
in developing new talent since his entry into the sport seven years ago.
"With our partnership from 2009 'til 2012, we can focus this squad
on the Olympic Games in London 2012," said Merida's Peter Koperdraad.
Beside the three new elite Dutch mountain bikers, Combee's team features
juniors Rozanne Slik and Michiel van der Heijden as well as Dennis Ebert,
Gerwin van Drunen, Ivar Slik, Julia Schrooder, Koen Verstijnen, Leo Combee
Junior, Lisa Schrooder and Thijs Zuurbier.
Spitz says doctor offered her EPO
The German national anthem plays
for Sabine Spitz
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
Olympic cross country mountain bike gold-medal winner Sabine Spitz said
that she was offered EPO and other doping products by a sports doctor
"I would rather ride behind the others" than dope, she told
the German magazine Sport-Bild.
Shortly afterwards, she became the world mountain bike champion, "and
that showed me: It is possible to win clean. I want to be able to look
at myself in the mirror every morning."
Spitz, 36, clarified in a separate press release that it was not a doctor
from the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR, German federation). She did not
name the doctor.
As deterrent to doping, she suggested life-long bans or prison. "For
me, doping is cheating and criminal. If there is a threat of imprisonment,
then maybe people will think twice before they take some illegal product."
She also said that she did not think that Lance Armstrong's return would
be beneficial to cycling. She said that there are test from the 1999 Tour
de France which link him to EPO use, and "I absolutely do not understand,
why he is welcomed back with open arms."
USA Cycling hosts promoters' summit
USA Cycling will conduct its first annual Mountain Bike Promoters Summit,
November 14-16 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The summit is open to all
promoters, team managers, industry stakeholders and officials and will
offer informational sessions, as well as the opportunity to share best
Held in conjunction with the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar Promoters
Summit, the event will begin on Friday evening with a mixer involving
USA Cycling staff, Board members and all attendees. The sessions will
be held at the United States Olympic Training Center on Saturday and Sunday.
TransRockies gets cheaper for some
Photo ©: TransRockies
Organizers of the popular TransRockies event in Canada pointed out that
the falling value of the Canadian dollar relative to the Euro and the
US Dollar has made the cost of entering the eighth edition of the race,
scheduled for August 9-15, relatively cheaper for many racers coming from
"As world commodity prices have fallen, so has the loonie [Canadian
dollar - ed.] against both the US Dollar and the Euro," said TransRockies
representative Paul Done. "After hovering around par for most of
the last year, the loonie's slide means that the US Dollar is now worth
over $1.20 Canadian while the Euro has also gained significantly, around
15% [at the time of writing - ed.]."
The fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar translate into hundreds
of dollars lower cost to register, stay and travel per person for Americans
and Europeans entering the race.
Organizers have said they process all entries at the current exchange
rate of the day the entry is received. Entries for the 2009 event are
For more information, visit www.transrockies.com.
Iceman cometh again
The popular Iceman Cometh Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, November
8. The 19th annual edition of the race will run 27 miles, following a
point to point format, from Kalkaska to Traverse City, Michigan. Pros
and amateurs will compete for just under $25,000 in cash prizes and $10,000
in merchandise prizes.
Kelli Emmett and Brian Matter won last
Highland Fling draws unicyclers, too
1500 cyclists will invade the Southern Highlands of the NSW in Australian
for the Highland Fling on November 8-9. On Sunday, riders will compete
in The Full Fling (110km), The Half Fling (55km) and The 100Mile Fling
This edition of the race will see two-time champion Shaun Lewis trying
to defend his title against 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Champion James
Williamson and former World Champion Craig Gordon. Jason English will
also be keen to add to his Australian titles and his second place at the
24 Hours of Adrenalin World Championship. The first finisher is expected
to complete the race in about four hours.
In addition to the usual collection of singlespeeders, some 15 racers
will compete on unicycles.
USWCDP Diary: Red, white and blue…plus a dash of pink
By Emma Millar
Emma Millar was surprised to claim
Photo ©: Emma Millar
It was a crazy weekend. Trying to explain to my professors that I'll
be gone for a week and that yes, cycling is a school-sanctioned sport
was only the beginning.
We left Durango at an ungodly hour on Wednesday morning and arrived in
beautiful Banner Elk, North Carolina that afternoon [for the USA Cycling
Collegiate Mountain Bike National Championships]. The downhill wasn't
until Saturday, so we had two days of practice until we raced. Thursday
was a relatively relaxing day. We spent a long time walking and riding
sections of the course and be the end, everyone felt pretty good about
Then, of course, (East Coast, remember?) it rained all night Thursday
and all day Friday. No one was really surprised, but it did make our course
inspection earlier a little superfluous. We spent Friday shuttling the
increasingly sloppy course.
I only got a few practice runs before breaking a bolt on my sweet pink
Ellsworth Dare. I didn't know I was capable of breaking a bolt in two
pieces, but apparently I am. And, apparently, the size I needed doesn't
exist in hardware stores.
Read the complete
diary entry or see Cyclingnews' full coverage of the USA
Cycling Collegiate MTB Nationals.
NorCal League takes silent auction online
The NorCal High School Mountain Bike League of California has expanded
its silent auction to include online bidding for those unable to attend
the CycleFest fundraiser weekend in person. The League hopes the more
widespread auction will boost league finances.
Bidding began on October 23 and will end at 10:00 pm on November 8, at
the 5th annual CycleFest gala dinner, held at the Mill Valley Community
Center. Over the years, the dinner and auction have proved to be major
fund raisers for the NorCal league.
The auction includes some 70 items from brand-name manufacturers, theater
and ballgame tickets, vacations, century rides, bicycles and bicycle components,
clothing, eyewear, artwork and photography, wine and wine tours, and hi-tech
"It's the first time we have run an online auction fundraiser, and
we want cyclists from all over to help start us off on a high note,"
said Katie DeClercq.
To view the auction items, visit norcalmtb.cmarket.com.
Cyclingnews' MTB Contest: Win an autographed calendar featuring
female MTB celebrities
Cyclepassion 2009 Calendar
Photo ©: Cyclepassion
Ever wonder what some of the world's elite female mountain bikers look
like under all the mud and their jerseys, helmets and sunglasses? A few
of the fastest female mountain bikers bare not quite all to show off their
super fit bodies in the 2009 Cyclepassion calendar.
Enter Cyclingnews' contest to win an autographed copy of the Cyclepassion
Photographer Daniel Geiger has captured images of the following six of
the sport's elite racers in a 40 cm x 68 cm (15.75" by 20.72")
- Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle-Flesjaa, Seven-time World Cup champion
and 2004 Olympic gold medallist
- German Hanka Kupfernagel, 2008 Elite Women's Cyclo-Cross World
Champion, 2000 Olympic champion
- Russian Irina Kalentieva, Bronze medal winner 2008 World Championship
and 2007 World Champion
- American Willow Koerber, Sixth overall in the 2007 World Cup
- Germany Steffi Marth, 2008 German 4X champion
- Sabine Spitz, 2008 European champion, 2008 Olympic champion,
2008 World marathon champion
The calendar is signed by each of the athletes and it also includes a
section about the making of the calendar. The contest's winner will be
selected at random from all correct answers to a mountain bike trivia
Hurry and enter
now to be in the draw. Good luck!
Planning for 2009 with Cyclingnews' MTB Calendar
Cyclingnews has been hard at work on the Mountain Bike Calendar
for the upcoming 2009 season. Our calendar is as usual a work in progress,
but check out the dates of major UCI and other international events here.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)