Home Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  

Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Dauphiné Libéré
Photo ©: Sirotti

 MTB index page for all MTB content

MTB news & racing round-up for October 2, 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

Belgian legend to Crocodile Trophy

Eric Vanderaerden in the role of team director
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
(Click for larger image)

A former Paris-Roubaix champion, who won the green jersey and wore the yellow jersey of the Tour de France, will headline a thirty-strong Belgian contingent at the 2008 Crocodile Trophy, which begins later this month in the wilds of Australia's Tropical North. At the age of 46, Belgian cycling great Eric Vanderaerden will dust off his cycling shoes to race in the name of the Marc Herremans Foundation, honouring the man behind the greatest single achievement in the race's history.

Last year, Herremans inspired the sporting world when he completed the 1,300 kilometre journey on a hand cycle. One of Belgium's most celebrated sportsmen, the paraplegic Ironman endured suffering beyond the imagination of most athletes and required constant medical attention during a feat which is now the stuff of legend. It was a performance that left an imprint on all involved and obviously inspired his countrymen, who will return en-masse to make the race their own.

Including support crew, a posse of 50 Belgians will venture into the Australian outback in 2008 to test themselves against the extreme elements and fellow competitors from 14 countries.

"Marc Herremans showed us last year, it is the power of mind more than body that drives each of us from within to discover our true strength," said Crocodile Trophy Supremo Gerhard Schoenbacher. "It is no surprise to see so many of his countrymen, including the great sprinter Eric Vanderaerden, return to take part in the race for themselves."

Marc Herremans at the 2007 Crocodile Trophy
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

In his prime two decades ago, Vanderaerden won the classics, Paris Roubaix (1987) and the Ronde Van Vlaanderen (1985). His palmares also include five Tour de France stage wins, five days in the yellow jersey and an overall victory in the Tour's green jersey points competition (1986).

"Eric Vanderaerden has been a long time retired and it is simply not possible to turn back the clock," Schoenbacher said. "But he has worked on the Crocodile Trophy previously (driving a team car) and knows the suffering he is in for. He is Belgian, so no doubt at his age, he will race and ride for the love of cycling."

German Ironman triathlete Kai Hundertmarck, a two-time Crocodile Trophy stage winner, has also signed on for a second tilt at the overall title. In 2005, the former T-Mobile cyclist and Tour de France veteran rode with distinction for the Felt-Shimano Dream Team, winning the Blencoe Falls stage and the Laura-Cooktown "Queen Stage" of Australia's out-back classic. The German livewire was also unanimously voted the winner of the James Grant Memorial Award for "most flamboyant rider" by his fellow competitors.

Mature riders excel at Simpson Desert Bike Challenge

By Su Spencer

After three days and six stages of the 383km Simpson Desert Bike Challenge in Australia, just two riders have thus far been able to complete 100% of the race distance.

Leading the event is first-timer, but experienced enduro rider, Lynton Stretton of Queensland in the 50-59 year category. An hour and 19 minutes behind is race veteran Heinz von Holzen from Bali. Heinz will turn 50 later this year. After the success of the oldest rider in 2007, Bruce Wood, it seems that riding smart and knowing what your body can handle is the secret to success in this arduous adventure race.

In third place, at 355km (93% of race distance completed is another "mature rider" - Warren Quinn from Parkes, NSW. And a very creditable fourth place, at 325km (85% of race distance) is being held by former Crocodile Trophy competitor Roman Petr from Slovakia.

Race conditions have been hot (41 degrees on day three and less than 5% humidity) with sandy, with track conditions similar to the tough 2007 edition. Unfortunately this has caused an existing shoulder injury for Mt Isa adventure rider Ron Whitehead to flare up and force him out of the race. Also suffering under the tough conditions were the father and son pairing of Lawrence and Emerson Reece, both first-time entrants.

Day four will see riders tackling the gibber plains and corrugated tracks from the southern end of the old Birdsville track heading north. The weather is expected to be possibly hotter, the UV will be extreme, and it will be a tough day for all riders and supporters.

Felt announces international team for 2009

Kashi Leuchs (New Zealand) at the 2008 Olympic Games
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Team Felt International announced its roster for 2009 last weekend at Gimondibike, in Iseo, Italy. It will be lead by cross country rider Kashi Leuchs of New Zealand. The team will race the World Cups, the Swiss series and some rounds of the German Bundesliga and Internatazionali d'Italia.

In 2008, Leuches rode with Cannondale-Vredestein and finished 24th at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. He is looking forward to the role of team leader.

"I'm confident this is going to be a really great team! I have always enjoyed helping younger riders and with this team I have the chance to be a little bit of a team leader. This will be a new challenge for me and motivate me a lot," said Leuchs.

He will be joined by Swede Emil Lindgren (from Full Dynamix); Swiss Jürg Graf (ex-Swisspower MTB Team), Andreas Kugler (from Fischer-BMC); Italian Andrea Tiberi; and Slovenian Blaza Klemencic.

At 23 years-old, Graf doesn't yet have the international results like the rest of his team-mates, but he has been attracting attention in Switzerland where he's competed with some of the best talent in the world.

"Our objective is to be among the top teams," said Team Manager Antonio Brozzu, "for this all our athletes have signed two-year contracts, except Kashi Leuchs, who has signed for four years, in view of the next Olympic Games of London."

The Felt International Team will also have a second squad of elite and amateur racers that will race primarily in national-level contests.

Killeen and Flueckiger brothers signed to new Trek World Cup Team

Liam Killeen (Great Britain)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Great Britain's Liam Killeen and Swiss brothers Lukas Flueckiger and Matthias Flueckiger will ride for the new cross country World Cup team sponsored by Trek Bicycles for 2009.

At 26 years-old, Liam Killeen is the senior rider of the program. A two-time Olympian, two-time U23 World Cup Champion and reigning Commonwealth Games champion, Killen finished fourth at the 2008 UCI World Championships. After a crash near the start of the Olympic mountain bike race in Beijing put him in last place, Killeen worked his way back up to seventh, logging lap times that would have put him in medal contention.

"I'm really excited to join this new and well supported program as I begin my long term preparation for the London Olympics in 2012," said Killeen. "I'm convinced that my training, coupled with the support of the team, will see my results continue to improve as they have been for the last half of the 2008 season. I'm also excited to have the Flueckiger brothers as teammates, we'll make a strong team."

Lukas Flueckiger, 24, had an impressive 2008 season with no less than three World Cup podium appearances, including a second place in Bromont in round seven, and a fourth place in Schladming at the finals. An injury earlier in the year kept him from a higher overall World Cup standing; he was ninth. Lukas heads into 2009 with the goals of placing more consistently in the top five of the World Cup events. He also hopes to win a World Cup in the next year or two and medal at the Olympics in 2012.

"I'm honoured to ride for this team," said Lukas.

Younger brother Matthias Flueckiger is considered by many to be a real superstar of the future. This 2006 Junior World Champion just turned 20 and already has a medal at the Under 23 World Championships. With another two years in that category, expect Matthias to be picking up more medals and titles in the near future. He has his sights set on the U23 World Cup title for 2009 and a top-15 finish in the World Cup's elite rankings. Matthias logged his first World Cup top 10 with a ninth place at the World Cup finals in Schladming.

"The way to the top of the world best mountain bikers is getting steeper," said Matthias. "Focusing on the details of training and preparation is getting more and more important. I hope to make a step forward to the top rankings of the cross country world."

"We're extremely excited to have these three amazing athletes on board," said Martin Whiteley, Team Manager. "I'm confident that in our first season of racing next year, we'll be challenging the more established teams for the title of number one men's XC team, as well as seeing some regular podium performances. These three riders will work brilliantly as a team."

The cross country team will race Top Fuel 9.9 SSL frames. The downhill squad will be announced later.

Good weekend for Naaf

Last weekend, Ralf Näf took home not just one, but two victories in the Czech Republic. The Swiss racer won both mountain bike races in Nove Mesto. On Saturday he won a sprint race against Jaroslav Kulhavy, Yader Zoli and his teammate José Hermida. One day later, he dominated the cross country race, leading from the start. Just before the end, his Hermida caught him and the two crossed the finish line together.

Platt earns German marathon title at last while Brandau surprises

Men's winner Karl Platt
Photo ©: Armin Kuestenbrueck
(Click for larger image)

Karl Platt and Elisabeth Brandau won the German national marathon titles. In Singen, near Lake Constance, Platt won his first national title ahead of his Bulls Racing teammate Stefan Sahm and of two-time champion Hannes Genze. In the women's competition Brandau earned the title by beating Adelheid Morath and Anja Gradl. Olympic champion Sabine Spitz left the race after 40 km.

Karl Platt (Bulls Racing) waited a long time for a medal in a championship. For many years he was named a co-favorite but the medals always were dedicated to the others. So after crossing the finish line, he was full of euphoric. One minute and 35 seconds later, his team-mate, friend and Cape-Epic companion Stefan Sahm (Bulls Racing) earned the silver medal ahead of Hannes Genze (Alb-Gold).

Platt went with an attack that formed a 30-man lead group after 30km. Eventually, only five men remained and at 70km, while racing through the beautiful Hegau landscape, title defender Jochen Kaess (Alb-Gold) couldn't follow and dropped off the pace. A short time later Moritz Milatz (Multivan-Merida) also dropped. With about 20 kilometers to go, Platt launched the next attack. Sahm hesitated a moment too long and then decided to stay with Alb-Gold biker Hannes Genze to secure the gap of Platt, who at 30 years-old, went on to a solo win.

"It's unbelievable, a dream come true. I felt really well, and before the last attack, I thought, 'okay boy, you are strong, you can do it'," said Platt.

Morath crashed after chasing hard

Elisabeth Brandau
Photo ©: Armin Kuestenbrueck
(Click for larger image)

The women's competition unfolded in a strange way. Some minutes after the licensed women, the male hobby category racers started. Soon the best of them caught the women. When they moved to the front of women's bunch, Elisabeth Brandau (Team Haibike best parts), decided to go with them, while Sabine Spitz (Central Ghost) and all the other women decided to do their own race. So Brandau got benefit of slipstream from the men and soon had 40 seconds' lead.

Spitz followed solo but had no chance to close the gap without slipstream. "This kind of race was frustrating, it was not fair. I lost my motivation and decided to stop," Spitz said after quitting the race while in second position, about 1'30" behind Brandau.

Meanwhile Adelheid Morath (Rothaus-Cube) and Anja Gradl (Central-Ghost) worked together but at one time they had a five-minute deficit on Brandau. After 60 kilometers Gradl was struggling and Morath was chasing alone. With 10 kilometers to go, she only had 30 seconds to Brandau but then Morath crashed badly and lost the chance to get her first national title.

22 year-old Brandau, a former junior road racer for the German national team, was suffering in the last part of the race. When she passed the finish line, she was completely exhausted. "The last 20 kilometers I had to fight really hard. I never expected to win the title. When I went with the men, I was surprised that the other women didn't do the same," Brandau said.

See Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the German National Marathon Championships.

Copa Chile heads to La Serena for round two

The city of La Serena, in Northern Chile, will host round two of the Copa Chile Jeep series on October 4-5. La Serena is a special venue in that is considered one of the most difficult race circuits in Chile.

"This circuit will test the physical and technical capacity for all the riders," said Pan-American Champion and Olympian Cristóbal Silva of the cross country course where Saturday's event will be run.

On the other hand, the downhill course, full of rocks, jumps and loose dirt, is expected to take about five minutes when raced on Sunday. National Champion and round one winner Antonio Leiva will be back to race again. "This course is physically exhausting and technical which is why it challenges," said Leiva.

Olympian Francisca Campos will also be among the locals ready to win on home ground.

For more information, visit www.copachilemtb.cl.

Previous News     Next News

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)