MTB news & racing round-up for November 22, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
South Africans check out home courses for Pietermaritzburg 2009 World
Photo ©: SA MTB
Greg Minnaar celebrated his 27th birthday last week while inspecting
the course for the first round of the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup
to be held in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Minnaar,
who was crowned the 2008 World Cup Champion, was all smiles as he chatted
to media and local dignitaries at a launch function that gave a glimpse
of what the midlands city can expect next April, when the world's best
and their entourage arrive to contest the prestigious cycling event.
"It's awesome to be able to race a World Cup event right in my hometown
and I'm looking forward to it. I will of course be under a lot of pressure
as the current World Cup champion, but I relish the prospect of racing
against the world's best riders in front of my friends, family and home
fans," said Minnaar.
With heavy overnight rain making the downhill course extremely muddy
and slippery, Minnaar opted to serve as a tour guide to local media, international
and local cycling officials and Pietermaritzburg city officials by walking
them through sections of the downhill course, nestled on the steep forested
slopes to the west of the city, just above the Cascades Shopping Centre.
"It's a fantastic course that's going to offer a very solid all-round
test to riders," said Minnaar. There is no time to recover really,
and there are some spectacular drops and jumps that will definitely thrill
Burry Stander, who finished second at the 2008 UCI World Championship
U23 cross country race, also offered praise. He was as thrilled as Minnaar
in looking forward to such a high profile international event coming to
his home province.
"I rode sections and it felt no different to being on any other
World Cup cross-country course I've raced overseas" said Stander,
who lives in Port Shepstone, just 100km from Pietermaritzburg. "What
it does have is a lot of short steep climbs and is quite similar in toughness
to the Beijing Olympic Games course, which most riders rated as the best
'and hardest' in 2008."
Rising local stars Travis Browning and South African junior champion,
Hayden Brown, also gave their feedback on the downhill course while South
African national junior champion Rourke Croeser and elite national champion
Brandon Stewart joined Stander in checking out the cross country course.
"There will be a junior category on the World Cup circuit from next
year and I'll be contesting that" said Croeser, a talented 17-year-old
from the KwaZulu-Natal province. "The fact that the first round is
starting right here in our backyard is like a dream. Today I just got
a sample of this course, but you can bet I'll know this course better
than anyone by April!"
"Hosting such a high profile international event is a wonderful
way to showcase Pietermaritzburg to the world," said Rob Haswell,
Msunduzi municipality strategic executive manager. "It's also great
to have sporting heroes coming to Pietermaritzburg to inspire a new generation
of Greg Minnaars and Burry Standers."
With the downhill and cross-country courses virtually complete, construction
began last week on the 4X course.
The 2009 UCI World Cup series will kick off in Pietermaritzburg and run
from April 3 to 12.
Brentjens to fill dual roles
By Marcel Slagman
Bart Brentjens (The Netherlands).
Photo ©: Rob Jones
In addition to continuing to race for another year, Bart Brentjens will
take on the responsibilities of team manager with the Brentjens Mountain
Bike Team, currently known as the Dolphin-Trek team. Brentjen made the
decision after current team manager, Ralf van Heugten, resigned his post
effective December 31 after five years as manager.
When asked why he is taking on the additional role, Brentjens replied,
"So I can hang on in the sport I love. I will give young and ambitious
riders the chance to become top riders. Holland needs that.''
"For me, the Olympic Games in Beijing was a nice completion of five
years of intense work on a beautiful team!" said the departing van
Heugten. "It's been a great time with many ups and downs on a great
team. I'm super proud of what we have achieved ... and the riders that
I've been able to work with."
Brentjens, who won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1996, will
reveal more information about the team's sponsors and racers in the coming
weeks. He is expected to contest events such as the Cape Epic stage race
and the Bart Brentjens Challenge, named after himself.
Brentjens said that he regretted not being named the new national coach
after Dutch federation coach Leo van Zeeland left the job recently. Had
he been offered the opportunity, he said, "I would love to do that,
even with the new job I have. But it would have been more logical to work
one or two years together with Van Zeeland to learn the job.
"Now Van Zeeland is not the coach anymore, I don't know who can
handle the role. He had 18 years of experience and knowledge in mountain
Industry reps network & grapple with cycling's issues at US summit
By Sue George
USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson
Photo ©: USA Cycling
Promoters, officials, team managers, NORBA board members, USA Cycling
CEO Steve Johnson and representatives of the mountain bike industry converged
for a three-day, first-time mountain bike summit held November 14-16 at
USA Cycling's headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Forty-five attendees
met to discuss changes and issues within the sport, share best practices,
offer their suggestions about how to promote mountain bike racing in the
USA Cycling opened Saturday's session with an overview of its programs
and a presentation on relations between promoters and officials. Race
publicity, insurance, athlete development, race sponsorship, relationship
building, trends and the future of mountain biking were among other topics
on the agenda.
"It brought a variety of different aspects of the sport together,
connecting people from around the country and offering amazing opportunities
for networking and sharing best practices," said USA Cycling's Mountain
Bike Events and Program Director Kelli Lusk according to the USA Cycling
A similar summit involving National Racing Calendar promoters also took
place over the same weekend. Both groups met Saturday evening to share
an informal dinner.
"Mostly I was there for the road summit, but I dropped into the
mountain bike side to see what was going on," Iceman Cometh promoter
Steve Brown told Cyclingnews after he returned home from the summit.
Brown has promoted the Iceman for 19 years and also puts on the Tour de
Leelanau, a UCI category 1.2 road event.
"I'm completely removed from a lot of the mountain bike scene -
living in my own little insulated world up here in northern Michigan,
so I wasn't aware that there was so much interest in the gravity events.
I knew about 4X and downhill, but I wasn't aware that it was that big
of a scene. That was interesting to me," said Brown. "There
is a culture difference between the cross country and the gravity guys.
How do you work with those two together?"
About 45 people attended
Photo ©: USA Cycling
While there is a culture gap between the road and the mountain bike sides
of the sports, Brown said that although many perceive the two disciplines
to be facing different issues, he saw both grappling with the same problems.
"When I would jump into the mountain bike side, we were talking about
the same things as on the road side.
"On the road side, promoters are interested in protecting their
race dates. There is so much equity in their race dates as they are tied
to other cycling and non-cycling events within the community.
"Dates were a big issue in the mountain bike side - especially fitting
everything in with the World Cups. How do you make a series to fit in
with all the other races? There were just five or seven weekends that
the top pros could be available to race in the US. That got a lot of attention.
We were trying to figure out how to slot all the races in at the level
that they wanted to be."
While mountain bike summit attendees struggled with their sport's calendar,
road summit attendees agreed to measure to help promoters going forward.
"On the road side, there was more conclusion. Steve Johnson asked
his staff to show us how the events are evaluated and picked for the NRC
- as opposed to just submitting your bid and receiving the dates you are
allocated. There is going to be a lot more transparency in the process."
Brown said he would attend another such summit. "Certainly networking
with your peers and finding out what works for them and what doesn't is
really valuable. It's like 'Hey I'm not alone.'" He added that there
may be another summit in the spring of 2009, allowing more time to sort
through date-related issues before the 2010 UCI calendar is decided.
McMullen documentary screenings coming to California
Visually impaired downhill mountain bike racer Bobby McMullen is the
subject of a documentary which will be screened in the Bay Area to benefit
the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League and Bay Area Outreach
Recreation Program. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A session
The 60-minute "The Way Bobby Sees It" was produced by Davis,
California, based Poison Oak Productions. A mountain biker before he lost
his vision, McMullen remains as true to the sport as ever.
"Mountain biking is truly a test of your own abilities. Just like
life, it is only you out there when it comes down to it. You can go as
fast and as hard as you want to. You are not sheltered behind your team.
It teaches life lessons, sometimes you just have to eat it. I think it
is a great sport for high schoolers for many reasons; it is a great outlet
for communication with peers and coaches, unlike other sports there are
no bench sitters, mountain biking is for everyone," he said.
Open captioning and open description will enable individuals with hearing
and visual impairments, such as McMullen himself, to enjoy the experience
along with everybody else.
The film documents one man's determination to live an active life even
when the path is partially blacked out and completely out of focus. Not
totally blind, McMullen has described his vision as looking through a
long tube with a smeared lens. He lost his eyesight as a result of diabetes
in 1993. Several years later his kidneys began to fail. He can't drive
a car, grocery shop, or read a menu without help. He relies on others
to see and takes 32 pills a day to stay alive. Despite these limitations,
he is on a mission to race the most difficult downhill course in the country.
The schedule of screenings is listed below. For more information, including
advance tickets, visit www.norcalmtb.org.
December 2, 7:00 pm: Sundance Kabuki Theater in San Francisco
December 4, 7:30 pm: Cinema West Theater in Livermore
December 9, 7:30 pm: Rialto Cinema in Santa Rosa
December 10, 7:30 pm: Grand Lake Theater in Oakland
December 11, 8:00 pm: The Lark Theater in Larkspur
Filipino race to include "Expat" category
Organizers of the Puerto Princesa Mountain Bike XC Challenge to be held
on January 29-31, 2009, in the Philippines, are considering the addition
of a new "Expat" category, for foreigners participating in the
event according to balita.ph.
Race Director Joey Mirasol said the event was created for the citizens
of the Phillipines, but foreigners would also be welcome. Mirasol has
been fielding inquiries from citizens of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Thailand and Hong Kong.
He consulted with the only UCI-accredited Mountain Bike Commissaire in
the country about how to handle foreign competitors. According to the
current plan, the race will host an "Expat-Am" category for
amateur foreigners to compete with each other. However, licensed elite
racers will instead contest the race's elite category open to all genders,
ages and nationalities.
The race will be run at the Magarwak Integrated Recreation & Nature
Park of Puerto Princesa City.
Colorado's trails organization awarded
A Durango, Colorado-based trails organization was recently recognized
by the US Forest Service. The Rocky Mountain Regional Forester presented
the Recreation Partner of the Year award to the Trails 2000 group according
The non-profit volunteer organization has worked for two decades to engage
the public in the planning of trail proposals on federal lands in southwestern
Colorado. Since 1990, the group has provided annually up to 3,000 hours
of volunteer work for trail maintenance and public involvement, valued
at more than US$500,000.
"This award recognizes all of the work our volunteers have contributed
to our trails for the past 20 years and the importance of volunteer work
on public lands," said Mary Monroe, Trails 2000 executive director.
"We are honored to receive such a prestigious award on behalf of
Intermontane Challenge drawing top talent
The inaugural Intermontane Challenge, set for July 27-31, 2009 in British
Columbia, Canada, has been drawing some high profile entrants to compete
for a top prize of CAN$10,000 for the overall win in the men's and women's
Former Olympian David "Tinker" Juarez confirmed his participation
in the solo category along with former Kamloops native Chris Sheppard.
They will race the cloverleaf style course, with all racers staying in
the same place throughout the event as each stage heads out in a different
The Intermontane Challenge is 25% filled and offering 300 total spots
for solo or team entrants.
For more information, visit www.intermontanechallenge.com.
TransAndes race set for February
The TransAndes, held in the Patagonian Andes Mountains between Chile
and Argentina, will be held February 3-8, 2009. A maximum of 400 teams
will race singletrack, jeep roads and technical terrain starting and finishing
in Pucón, Chile. Racers will cover six stages ranging from 60 to
90km each and will pass six volcanoes and 10 lakes en route.
Organizers likened the race's format to that of the TransAlp Challenge
and the TransRockies Challenge. For more information, visit www.transandeschallenge.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.
Time is almost up to enter Cyclingnews' contest to win an autographed
copy of the Cyclepassion calendar.
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!
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)