MTB news & racing round-up for October 2, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Belgian legend to Crocodile Trophy
Eric Vanderaerden in the role of
Photo ©: Gerry McManus
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
Photo ©: John Flynn
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
Team Felt International announced its roster for 2009 last weekend at
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
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
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
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',"
Morath crashed after chasing hard
Photo ©: Armin Kuestenbrueck
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.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)