MTB news & racing round-up for October 10, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Australian national series opens in October
Australian MTB Series regular Caroline
Photo ©: Greg Johnson
Just as mountain bike racing is winding down for the season in many parts
of the northern hemisphere, it's just getting going in the southern hemisphere,
especially in Australia.
Mountain Bike Australia will host five national series races this season
between October 2008 and March 2009. The National Championships will again
be on in Canberra over the Australia Day long weekend on January 22 -
26. This year New Zealand and other Oceania competitors will head to Thredbo
for the Oceania Championships in mid-March. To round off the season, National
Marathon Championships will be run in Victoria in late March.
Australia boasts many of the world's best downhillers with most expected
to compete throughout the season. Former two-time World Champion Sam Hill
from Perth is expected to line up alongside world ranked Gold Coast's
Nathan Rennie and Chris Kovarick. Other downhillers moving up the ranks
include Gracetown's Mitchell Delfs and Wollongong's Amiel Cavalier.
In the four cross, expect to see Beijing BMX Olympians Jared Graves from
Toowoomba and Luke Madill from Sydney at the starts. Other World Cup racers
such as Caroline Buchanan from Canberra and Thomas Hubert from Newcastle
will also be competing.
In the cross country, Olympians Dan McConnell and Dellys Starr are possible
contenders, and strong riders like Adelaide's Chris Jongewaard and up
and coming Lachlan Norris from Bendigo are expected to compete. Many of
the women being groomed for the London 2012 Olympic Games as part of Australia's
"Dirt Road to London" program will start to make their mark
this season with riders like Launceston's Rowena Fry, Bendigo's Joe Wall,
Manly's Zoe King and Melbourne's Katherine O'Shea. Former National Champion
Tory Thomas from Mt Beauty and Brisbane's Jodie Willett will also throw
down some challenges this season.
Australian Calendar 2008-2009
18 RED ASS 4X Series #1, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW (Aus) NE 4X
19 RED ASS 4X Series #2, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW (Aus) NE 4X
1 - 2 MBA Series #1, Eagle MTB Park, Adelaide, SA (Aus) NE XCO/XCC/DH
29 - 30 MBA Series #2, Illinbah, Gold Coast, Qld (Aus) NE XCO/4X/XCC/DHI
13 - 14 MBA Series #3, You Yang MTB Park-Geelong, VIC (Aus) NE XCO/XCC/DHI
22 - 26 National Championship, Mt Stromlo-Canberra, ACT (Aus) CN XCO/4X/XCC/DH/OT
31 - 1 MBA Series #4, Mt Buller, Mansfield, VIC (Aus) NE XCO/XCC/DHI
28 - 1 MBA Series #5, Glenorchy MTB Park, Hobart, TAS (Aus) NE XCO/4X/XCC/DH
20 - 22 Oceania Championship, Thredbo, NSW (Aus) CC XCO/4X/XCC/DH
29 National Marathon Championship, Wandong, VIC (Aus) CN XCM
Flight Centre team announced for Croc Trophy
Photo ©: John Flynn
The Merida-Fight Centre team has set itself the ambitious goal of claiming
both the men's and women's titles at the Crocodile Trophy, when it hits
the dusty outback road of Australia's tropical north on October 21. Spearheaded
by Western Australia's Tim Bennett, who last year excelled in reaching
the bottom step of the podium behind Italy's Mauro Bettin and The Czech
Republic's Ondrej Fojtik, the team will return in 2008 with a bolstered
line-up, featuring in-form riders and world class talent.
Joining Bennett once again for the journey will be last year's fellow
debutant Nick Both, whose form of late has been outstanding, including
a second overall placing at the Flight Centre Epic. Bookending the men's
lineup for Merida-Flight Centre is Adrian Jackson, whose credits including
winning the 2004 & 2008 World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships
along with the 2008 editions of Tasmania's Wildside and the Central Australian
Mountain Bike Enduro.
"With Tim, Nick and A.J., we believe we have the right mix of skills
to take a serious tilt at winning the Crocodile Trophy," Team Director
Peter Creagh said. "The 2007 event was an excellent learning experience
and our riders grew in confidence with every day as they realised they
could match it with the Europeans."
But it won't just be the Europeans the Merida-Flight Centre team will
need to worry about in 2008. The start-list features a quality group of
Australians including 2006 World 24 Hour Champion Craig Gordon (Rockstar
Racing) and one of mountain biking's ultimate survivors, the legendary
downhiller turned endurance racer, Johnny Waddell.
"Gordon is a tough competitor and I know the boys will enjoy the
daily dogfight," said Creagh. "But our goal is to win the GC,
and I suspect it's the Czech team (VIG+ Racing) we will need to be most
Merida-Flight Centre won't be focussed solely on winning the men's title
in 2008 with its newest team member lining up in the women's race.
Former Ironwoman Jo Bennett, the wife of Tim, has decided to enter Australia's
outback classic, and is already considered to be one of the favourites
to take home the women's "Saltie". Bennett recently decided
to shift her focus full-time to mountain biking, with The Croc Trophy
her first serious stage-race campaign. It also provides a chance to renew
the rivalry with another of Australias top female mountain bikers,
The Sunshine Coast's Naomi Hansen, after the two shared the honours at
the re-cent Flight Centre Epic.
"Whatever Jo achieves at this race will be a bonus for us as a team,"
Creagh said. "We are looking to Jo as a long-term project and we
know with the Crocodile Trophy that it's a race where results are often
commensurate with experience."
Kupfernagel to Stevens Bikes
Photo ©: AFP
Hanka Kupfernagel and her partner Mike Kluge are changing their team
name to Itera Stevens to reflect their new bike supplier, and will concentrate
on women's mountain biking and 'cross.
Kupfernagel, the 2007 time trial World Champion, decided not to extend
her contract with Focus Bikes, but is now with Stevens Bikes, a German
manufacturer according to the German Cycling Federation. The new team
will concentrate not only on cross and mountain biking, but also on time
trial riding. It will combine young upcoming racers and experienced racers,
who will "help make women's cycling more attractive and help it to
a stronger media presence," according to the Stevens website.
Stevens sees the sponsorship as a logical step. "We look forward
to working with the two exceptional athletes," said Stevens production
manager Volker Dohrmann. "Simply the number of world titles that
Hanka and Mike have won shows a concentration of talent and spirit. Plus,
Hanka and Mike have been a good symbol of German cycling for years and
so are perfect advertising partners for us."
For the 'cross season, the company will provide its Carbon Team machine
with Shimano Dura Ace components and Scorpo Carbon Wheels. For road racing,
the team will ride Stevens SLC Team bikes and for mountain bike races,
the Stevens SMC 1.
Brentjens Challenge this weekend
The Bart Brentjens Challenge in the Netherlands will wrap up the racing
season for many racers on Sunday, October 12. In addition, the race will
served as the last unofficial race of mountain bike legend Bart Brentjens
of the Dolphin Trek team.
Brentjens, who turns 40 years-old this week, won gold in the 1996 Olympic
Games and bronze at the 2004 Olympic Games. He was also the 1995 World
Champion in cross country.
For more information, visit www.bartbrentjenschallenge.com.
Stander returns for Asishove Challenge
Burry Stander will complete his
Photo ©: Jon Ivins
This time last year South African Burry Stander was a promising international
racer using the Asishove Mountain Bike Race as a podium-topping bookend
to his 2007 season. Now, he's the Under 23 World Cup champion and World
Championship silver medallist and he confirmed on Wednesday that he'll
be on the start line of the 2008 Asishove.
Ever the competitor, Stander, who won the inaugural event last year,
will return to the Asishove just outside Durban on October 18 not only
to try and win the 45km event again, but also to bid farewell to his longtime
bike sponsor and thank his home-province fans. The 21 year-old Port Shepstonite
has signed a contract to race alongside World Champion Christoph Sauser
on the European-based Specialized team in 2009.
"It will be one of my last races with GT Bicycles, who have helped
me achieve the success I have over the past three years. As a professional,
having a supportive sponsor is essential and they've been just great.
I have also enjoyed amazing support from fellow KwaZulu-Natalians while
racing abroad this year and I feel it's only right to show my appreciation
by doing some of my favourite local races like the Asishove," said
"Actually, while it's lots of fun, the Asishove is a deceivingly
tough event and it suits me well because there are steep climbs, lots
of singletrack and fast descents, which is what I'm accustomed to in the
World Cup cross-country races I do. It's a great event for anyone looking
for a race with a bit of everything in it and I would love to see it grow
The event will take place at Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park, Pinetown
and is open to all mountain bikers, with a 20km option for the less fit
or beginners and youngsters. Both routes start and finish inside Giba
Gorge and also incorporate sections of rolling countryside in the Shongweni
area with ocean views.
For more information, visit www.amashova.co.za.
Pekatch back on form before Israel championship
By Yaron Michali
Dror Pekatch riding
Photo ©: Idan Peled & Itzik Dgamin
Just two weeks before his country's national championship, Israel's Dror
Pekatch (Subaru / Gary Fisher) showed he is back in form with a win at
the Bet Schemesh 70km marathon race at home in Kdoshim Forest last Friday.
Pekatch finished in 2:23:48 with Israeli National Team member Eyal Rehat
in second at 2:23:48 and three-time Israeli champion Dor Dviri in third
"The race was tactical and fast on a non-selective course,"
said Pekatch. "I tried to separate my two closest rivals, as they
are on the same team, in order to avoid any cooperation against me,"
said Pekatch. "I am glad it worked, but for the national championship,
this approach will not work."
In two weeks, the Israeli National Championship will close the 2008
season. Defending champion Rotem Yishay and Oded Danon are among the favorites.
"Rotem is coming after a successful season, and there are many
other strong riders, but I am eager to race, we'll see what happens,"
said Pekatch, who then offered an explanation for his own recent results
and four other top-two placings recently following a training camp in
the Italian Alps.
"The results are the outcome of hard work with my new coach,"
said Pekatch, who recently began working with French coach Benoit Nave.
"It is a privilege to work with Benoit Nave, but a lot of work has
to be done, I am still not close to my best form and I have a lot to improve."
Pekatch is recovering from a thigh surgery to remove a benign tumor.
This summer, he also suffered a broken rib.
Test of Series announces race dates
The Test of Series announced the 2009 race dates for its three-race
series: The OreCrusher, The Test of Metal, and the GearJammer.
"Each of these Squamish races has its own character and each poses
a unique challenge for riders," said promoter Cliff Miller.
The OreCrusher, which will take place on May 9, is a classic cross-country
lap race through the gnarly "dump trails" in Brackendale. The
second in the series is the Test of Metal on June 20. The series then
ends with the 47km GearJammer on July 25.
"It's the Canadian Epic," said Miller of the Test of Metal
event, "and it's a good opportunity to race against some future Canadian
Olympians." Three of the four members of the 2008 Canadian Olympic
team, Geoff Kabush, Seamus McGrath and Catherine Pendrel have raced the
The non-profit Test of Metal, Inc. has donated more than CAN$75,000 in
race proceeds to community organizations.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)