MTB news & racing round-up for September 19, 2008
Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking.
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Edited by Sue George
Australia gets another mountain bike stage race
In 2008, Adrian Jackson won another
popular Australian stage race, the Wildside
Photo ©: Rick Eaves
Another mountain bike stage race has stepped up onto the international
calendar. The inaugural Terra Australis - Great Southern Land Mountain
Bike Epic will be staged from March 29 to April 4, 2009, in Australia.
The 600km event will start in the Alpine Resort of Falls Creek and finish
seven days later on the banks of the Ovens River in Wangaratta. It will
travel through the Alpine Villages of Dinner Plain, Bright and Beechworth
and will be set against the majestic backdrop of Victoria's High Country.
"The event will set the benchmark in the Asia Pacific region
for endurance mountain bike events," predicted Iain Moore, Finish
Line Events Director. "The event's timing is ideal as we work with
our event partners to capitalise on the rise in popularity of recreational
and endurance based Mountain Bike events."
"We have been very conscious of remaining true to the spirit of
similar events in Europe, Canada and South Africa, which have set a very
high standard and are iconic multi stage mountain bike events. Our ultimate
goal is to establish Terra Australis as an international event showcasing
the region and its attributes to mountain bikers from around the globe,"
"We are especially excited to have already gained the support of
Tory Thomas and Kerry Ryan as event ambassadors. Tory is a passionate
North East Victorian local and a highly credentialed endurance rider having
previously claimed the 2005 Australian National Solo 24 Hour Championship,
the Australian MTBA 100K Marathon Championship, and in the same year the
Australian Cross Country Championship and MTBA National Series Championship
Ryan is a former World Masters Champion and along with partner Craig
Peacock won their 50+ age group category in the 2005 Trans Rockies challenge
The event is scheduled just soon after another brand new Australian
stage race, the BMC
Mountains To Beach from March 1-7, 2009.
Estonia hosts biggest Baltic States marathon
The biggest mountain bike marathon in Baltic States, the SEB 11 Tartu
Rattamaraton, will take place on Sunday, September 21 in South-Estonia.
Organizers have prepared 89km and 40km tracks starting from Otepää,
Tehvandi Sport Centre and finishing near Elva in Tartumaa Sport Centre.
According to the latest information 2,844 riders have registered for
the 89km distance and 1,572 for the 40km distance which makes 4,416 starters
in total. This year participants from 11 different countries have signed
Next to the best cyclists of Estonia like Allan Oras and Jaan Kirsipuu,
many strong competitors are coming from Sweden. For example Alexander
Wetterhall, who finished fifth in European Cross Country Championships
2008, and Niklas Gustavsson, who was voted rookie of the year, are set
to make their debuts in Estonia. From Latvia more than 300 riders will
participate including many professional racers.
The day before the marathon, on Saturday, a sprint event will be held
Club Tartu Maraton is hosting the event. They will also run the European
Marathon Championship in 2009.
For more information, visit www.tartumaraton.ee.
Who says Lance can only win on pavement?
By James Huang in Snowmass, Colorado
Lance Armstrong got back to his
Photo ©: James Huang
Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong continued on his comeback
trail by winning the 12
Hours of Snowmass mountain bike endurance event along with teammates
Len Zanni and Max Taam, just about one month after coming in second to
Dave Wiens at the epic Leadville 100. The Texan gave a good public display
of off-road prowess prior to this season during that famous moment in
Stage 9 of the 2003 Tour when he was forced across a rutted field to avoid
a fallen Joseba Beloki. In addition to a previous sixth place appearance
at the US Mountain Bike Nationals in Mount Snow, Vermont nearly ten years
ago, his latest accomplishments only confirm that he's the real deal on
a proper mountain bike, too.
Armstrong's weapon of choice for the Snowmass event was the new
Top Fuel. Much as Trek did with its current-generation Madone road
platform, this latest Top Fuel is a far more daring design than the rather
conservative one it replaced. The OCLV carbon main frame sports a semi-integrated
seatpost more typically seen on the road, the bottom bracket bearings
are directly inserted into a road-width shell, and the head tube now wears
an integrated headset as well.
Out back, the rear end still sticks with a single-pivot axle path but
a host of new features adapted from the Fuel EX trail bike cancel out
many of the design's inherent drawbacks. Lighter ABP Race (Active
Brake Pivot) pivots essentially provide a built-in floating disc mount
for better traction and control under braking, Full Floater's dual
dynamic shock mounts allow for more precise spring rate tuning throughout
the travel range, and a stouter one-piece EVO Link helps to keep everything
In total, Trek estimates that the changes have also dropped about 431g
(0.95lb) from the previous Top Fuel while also making it more predictable
and faster at the same time, too.
The component spec continued the weight loss theme and, as one would
expect, there was a healthy smattering of Bontrager-labeled gear such
as the Race XXX Lite carbon riser bar, Race X Lite aluminum stem, XXX
Lite carbon seatpost stub and InForm RL saddle. When it came to rolling
stock though, Armstrong apparently decided to reach outside of the company
Read the complete
Inaugural Crank the Shield draws racers to Ontario
Ontario's first point-to-point mountain bike stage race, Crank the Shield,
will kick off on Friday. As an ultimate test of physical and mental endurance,
Crank the Shield has attracted riders of all calibers, from Canadian National
Team racers to weekend warriors, all in search of a personal triumph.
The three stages, ranging from 70 to 85 km, are sure to put riders to
The race will see approximately 280 riders make their way through the
Muskoka Region, the Town of Minden, the Town of Haliburton, and finish
in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands.
The three courses wind through rough ATV trails, secondary roadways,
and cycling specific riding centres including Buckwallow Cycling Centre,
and Haliburton Forest Wildlife Preserve. On the third day, racers will
enjoy a police-escorted 17 km neutral ride. This epic adventure will be
capped off with an awards banquet, at Haliburton Forest.
Crank the Shield 2008
Stage 1 - September 19: Buckwallow to Candalore, 80km
Stage 2 - September 20: Wilderness to Village , 90km
Stage 3 - September 21: Neutral Ride to Hills and Singletrack Thrills,
USA Cycling changes mountain bike categories
Women's racing in the National
Mountain Bike Series
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
USA Cycling announced a new mountain bike category system to take effect
for the 2009 season. The national governing body and the National Off
Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) Board of Trustees analyzed and improved
the changes with the goal of strengthening professional fields and adding
depth to amateur categories at the grass roots level.
The new categories, which closely resemble those used in other disciplines
of competitive cycling, will take effect on December 1, 2008. The previous
license categories will be replaced with a new system which include Category
1, 2, 3 and Pro designations.
The previous structure, which consisted of five categories Beginner,
Sport, Expert, Semi-Pro and Pro has been condensed to include four
categories. Like the categories they're replacing, Categories 1, 2 and
3 will also feature age groups classes.
"This change has been discussed, studied and considered in some
form for the last two years," said Lisa Nye-Salladin, NORBA Board
of Trustees President and race promoter for the Texas Mountain Bike Racing
Association. "Ultimately, the NORBA Board of Trustees spearheaded
this evolution in order to make racing more competitive and create a clear
distinction between amateur and professional athletes. The names of the
categories were also revised to better reflect the new levels of racing.
The terms 'Beginner', 'Sport' and 'Expert' carry little relevance outside
of the mountain bike community, which makes it difficult for sponsors
and the public to relate. The simplicity of using numbered categories
brings with it a universal understanding."
NORBA Board of Trustees member Gary Fisher was a major proponent of the
change in order to create a more competitive environment domestically
and improve the success of riders from the US globally.
"We want bigger pro fields in the National Calendar events so our
racers can better prepare for international competition like World Cups
and World Championships," said Fisher. "Our pro fields are tiny
compared to our European counterparts. We have the numbers in terms of
ridership, but we've been referring to them as Semi-Pros."
Olympian and four-time national cross country champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski,
who also sits on the USA Cycling Board of Directors as the NORBA athlete
representative, sees the change as a positive step forward.
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru/Gary
Photo ©: Jamie Lau
"Throughout the last several years, we've been discussing ways to
improve the quality of races in the US and increase competition,"
said Horgan-Kobelski. "This change will result in deeper pro fields,
but will also produce an extremely competitive atmosphere among amateurs.
The category one designation itself becomes a more prestigious field with
talent indicative of up-and-coming pros. The change also simplifies things
for race organizers who can now offer fewer categories, while at the same
time improving their event."
Marc Gullickson, USA Cycling's National Mountain Bike Development Director,
said the change would be better for rider development. "The Semi-Pro
category was originally created as a place for U23 athletes to compete
before making the jump to the professional level," said Gullickson,
"but now, the elimination of that category will help accelerate the
progression of athletes who should theoretically be competing against
stiffer competition on a more consistent basis. From a development standpoint,
the Semi-Pro category became an unnecessary middle ground that made it
difficult to assess talent."
Members currently categorized as Experts will automatically become a
Category 1; Sport members will automatically be converted to a Category
2; and Beginners will automatically become a Category 3. Members currently
categorized as Semi-Pro may choose either Category 1 or Pro designation
for the 2009 racing season. When renewing their license, Semi-Pro members
will be offered an automatic upgrade to Pro throughout the 2009 licensing
period which runs from December 1, 2008 to November 30, 2009. If a current
Semi-Pro member does not purchase a 2009 racing license, he will automatically
default to Category 1 status beginning on December 1, 2009 for the 2010
racing season. At that point, regular upgrade procedures will apply.
To go along with the new system, USA Cycling has developed detailed Pro
upgrade requirements and transition for Semi-Pro's in Endurance, Gravity
and Ultra-Endurance disciplines.
Jeep 48STRAIGHT heads to Utah
Greg Minnaar will be at the Jeep
48Straight round two
Photo ©: Luke Weber
Heading into the first race of the Jeep 48STRAIGHT Series last month
in New Jersey, fellow Californians Cody Warren and Kathy Pruitt were not
favorites to bring home the title. After taking down one renowned racer
after another to earn wins, the pair will no longer have the element of
surprise on their side heading into the second leg of the series on September
19-20 at The Canyons in Park City, Utah.
For Warren, the challengers will be arriving from near and far, led by
Eric Carter and Rich Houseman, as well as 2008 Crankworx Champion J.D.
Swanguen of San Diego. Also in the mix from the American contingent are
Kyle Strait, a Sea Otter Classic titlist with several Red Bull cycling
wins and a World Junior Downhill Championship podium under his belt, and
Cam Zink, a member of the US National Team who has been racing for more
than half his life and dominating for most of it, including a win at Crankworx.
No one will be overlooking local favorite Chris Van Dine of Park City,
a rider with over 20 titles spanning all disciplines of mountain bike
The foreign contingent is equally as daunting, with commitments to attend
from Great Britain's Steve Peat, Australia's Nathan Rennie and South Africa's
Greg Minnaar. Peat is a three-time World Cup Champion, with 15 World Cup
titles, eight British National Championships and two European Championships
to his name. Rennie, the 2008 Australian National Champion, is a former
overall World Cup Champion and Junior World Champion. Then there's Minnaar,
with an astounding 35 World Cup titles, a World Championship and three
World Cup Championships.
Pruitt will have her work cut out for her as well, led by reigning World
Champion and US National Champion Melissa Buhl, who lost to Pruitt in
the finals in New Jersey, but will be seeking to turn the tables in Utah.
Another top name to keep an eye on is Fionn Griffiths of Great Britain,
a three-time World Cup winner who can bring home a title on any given
As was the case during round one, Jeep 48STRAIGHT will hold an Open Qualifier
for local professionals and semi-professionals, with the racers battling
against the clock to try and earn a coveted spot in the dual slalom championship.
The Open Qualifier, which will be capped at 75 men and 25 women, will
take place on Friday, September 19.
The 48STRAIGHT Cyclo-cross, presented by Scott USA, has been added to
the schedule for Utah. There will be two categories of racing, including
the more advanced Group A with a 60-minute race and $400 guaranteed cash
payout, and the more recreational Group B, with a 45-minute race and $250
guaranteed cash payout.
For more information, visit www.48straight.com.
British NPS Round #5 changes venue
Round five of the British downhill National Points Series (NPS) has found
a new venue. Instead of being held at Carlton Bank, it will be held in
Innerleithen in Scotland on Saturday and Sunday, September 20-21. With
the North East seeing over a month's rainfall in one day, the finishing
field at the original site was looking more like a lake than a race village.
The Innerleithen course is littered with rocks, exposed roots and ruts
to challenge the best of the racers. Tighthly packed trees and steep,
twisting corners only add to the mix.
Practice is open Saturday. Seeding is set for Sunday morning with final
race runs on Sunday afternoon.
For more information, visit www.NPSDH.com.
Full house for El Reto
In only its second year, the El Reto del Quetzal stage race in Guatemala
has found itself with a full house. With 100 teams already registered,
the race is drawing riders from France, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia,
El Salvador, Mexico, USA and of course, Guatemala.
In addition to beautiful scenery, the country boasts singletrack made
by humans from the conquering period of over 500 years ago. The race will
run from October 3 to 5 and include three stages.
For more information, visit www.elretodelquetzal.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)