MTB news & racing round-up for April 3, 2009
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Edited by Sue George
Talented cast for Swiss series opener
Ralph Näf won the Canberra World Cup last August
Ralph Näf, who finished third in last year's World Cup and won the world marathon championship in 2006, will be joined by Olympic champion Sabine Spitz in the ranks of the favorites for the Swiss national series opener in Schaan on Sunday. Spitz is experienced in Schaan; she won there two years ago.
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
The Swiss series is running under the name of Racer Bikes Cup for 2009; in previous years, it was known as the Swiss Power Cup.
This round will be missing some of the usual stars, including Christoph Sauser, Nino Schurter and Florian Vogel, who are training in South Africa in preparation for next weekend's World Cup opener.
Näf is taking a different approach to his World Cup preparation. "I want to win in Schaan in order to give myself the necessary self-confidence for the World Cup opener in South Africa. Jürg Graf and Martin Gujan are also in good form and it will be a tough race," said Näf, who added that there is something special about racing in him home country in front of his fans.
When the race was last held in Schaan, Julien Absalon defeated Frederik Kessiakoff and Florian Vogel.
In the women's race, Spitz and Petra Henzi will be tough to beat, but some of the younger riders will give it their best.
"I'm looking forward to racing on the fast and exciting track," said Henzi, who last raced here in 2007, although she was then suffering from some health problems.
"It is certainly not just a duel between me and Sabine Spitz," said Henzi. "Also, it's not like the young racers have slept through the winter, so I'm convinced it will be a very interesting race for all of us. For example, two years ago, Sabine Spitz won with just 20 seconds over Russian Irina Kalentieva." Sabrina Enaux was third.
Racer Bikes Cup 2009
April 5: Schaan
April 19: Lugano/Tesserete
May 10: Solothurn
June 7: Winterthur
June 28: Plaffeien
August 23: Muttenz/Basel (finals)
US Cup adds Triple Crown short track
The women racing in the short track at Sea Otter
Photo ©: Sue George
The US Cup partnered with two sponsors to add a triple crown of short track races to the existing cross country racing schedule. TrailWatch.Net and Escape Adventures.Com are backing the new sub-series.
Sea Otter, Windham Mountain and the ProXCT Series finale in Las Vegas will each host a round of the spectator-friendly, short track race.
"I've been getting a lot of input from the pro riders, team mangers and industry insiders to bring short track back in any capacity for 2009," said US Cup marketing director Ty Kady. "The simple truth is the budget was too tapped to offer these male and female pro riders a short track series and prize money, given that we have focused all our energy into legitimizing cross country racing in the US again."
"However, Dave McElwaine of TrailWatch.Net and Jared Fisher of Escape Adventures.com both stepped up to the plate as the naming and presenting sponsors to make this a reality, so I really can't thank them enough. This is the kind of synergy the US Cup series is all about."
"It's our hope to get some more sponsorship dollars for 2010 and run a full blown short track series in conjunction with the PRO XCT tour next year," said Kady.
TrailWatch.Net will pay US$250 at each round for the most aggressive male and female short track riders. This may or may not be the actual race winner, but instead the bonus will go to the rider who instigates the most attacks to prompt the most racing action.
Dave McElwaine provides Cyclingnews with many of the photos posted for US ProXCT and other North American races. To see photos from the most recent round of the USProXCT in Fontana, click here.
Vanthourenhout ambitious for Averbode
Sven Vanthourenhout (Sunweb-Projob)
Cyclo-cross star Sven Vanthourenhout has made the Benelux race in Averbode, Belgium, on Sunday, May 10 his first important goal of the mountain bike season. He intends to focus more on mountain biking this summer and will race the Belgian Championships, the European Championships and the Benlux series.
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
The Sunweb-Projob rider is primarily known for his cyclo-cross racing; however, he's already distinguished himself as a versatile rider in other disciplines. In 2008, he finished second in the Belgian Championships on the road at Knokke-Heist. In March of this year, he won the Beach Mountain Bike Challenge, also in Knokke-Heist.
Vanthourenhout will be tested in Averbode, where he will race against Olympic Champion Julien Absalon, Sven Nys, Bart Brentjens and Roel Paulissen.
Other 'cross stars expected to compete there are Kevin Pauwels, Zdenek Stybar, Sven Nys, Tom Meeusen and Gerben de Knegt.
Torq Allstar works to regain lead in Terra Australis
Sam Bach and Mark Fenner
Photo ©: Elle Shaw
The Torq Allstar team continued its battle to regain the lead in the Terra Australis stage race happening this week in Australia. Torq Allstar had lost time on stage one after an unfortunate mechanical cost them more than 30 minutes.
Following stages one and two, the Torq Allstar team of Dan McConnell and Luke Fetch blasted the 72km stage 3. McConnell showed all of his strength by attacking from the drop of the flag at the beginning. His partner Fetch worked hard to stay in contact and they rotated the lead for the duration of the stage.
Total Rush, which includes Mark Fenner and Sam Bach, minimized the damage by allowing Torq Allstar to gain only 6:25, which meant their lead dropped to 22:39 from 34 minutes.
McConnell and Fetch also captured the 116km stage four, with 3,200m of elevation gain. Racers started the stage in the alpine village of Bright before embarking on a circumnavigation of Mt. Buffalo. At the top of the first climb, the Torq Allstar team had opened up a two-minute lead. Behind them Total Rush fixed a puncture which dropped them into third. Team BMC was second over the climb, but Total Rush had chased down Torq Allstar by the feed station.
Out of the first feed station, Torq Allstar once again attacked on a climb and quickly put 90 seconds between them and Total Rush. The climb up Goldie Spur was the middle point of the race in a stage that Fenner described as "massive, massive, massive".
The group rolls out
Photo ©: Elle Shaw
By stage end McConnell and Fetch had pulled back 21:02 minutes on the Total Rush team. That left Total Rush still in the lead, but by a slender 1:37 over Torq Allstar.
Total Rush rider Sam Bach said, "We had expected Lukey (Luke Fetch) would have blown up by now, but the young bloke just keeps powering on. We thought our experience would benefit us through this race format but the young blokes just keep coming. We will give it everything we have over the next three stages. We have the fastest bloke in the country chasing us and with 170kms to peg back such a small difference we have our work cut out.
"We are not going to give an inch. Today was the hardest day I have ever had on a bike. I am hurting but we are ready for whatever they are going to throw at us."
McConnell shared similar sentiments. "We pumped out 360 watts for five and a half hours and tore down the descents. It was a brutal day and we are rapt that we have been able to grab back another 21 minutes."
McConnell and Fetch now have three stage wins to Total Rush's one. Three stages remain.
General Classification after four stages
1 Total Rush (Mark Fenner/Sam Bach) 18:22:03
2 TORQ Allstar (Dan McConnell/Luke Fetch) 00:01:37
3 BMC (Troy Bailey/Joel Donney) 02:38:48
4 TORQ Triplets (Dean Clark/Katherine O'Shea) 02:51:28
5 K.O.M (Zoe King/Warren Burgess) 02:55:02
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
British 4X series kicking off in Dorset
The British National 4X series will kick off this weekend at the UK Bike Park in Dorset on April 5. The series will run through September with eight rounds plus the national championship itself.
British National 4X Series
April 5: Round 1 - UK Bike Park, Dorset
May 23-24: Rounds 2 & 3 - Bridgnorth, Shropshire
June 13-14: Rounds 4 & 5 - South West Extreme, Devon
July 4: Round 6 - Redhill, Gloucestershire
July 5: National Championship - Redhill, Gloucestershire
August 9: Round 7 - PORC, Kent
September 13: Round 8 - Chicksands, Bedforshire
Freedom Riders premiering at Sea Otter
Jackson, Wyoming-based KGB Productions and Gravnetic will premiere of its latest high-definition mountain biking film, Freedom Riders, on Saturday, April 18 at 7:00 pm at the Embassy Suites in Seaside, California, in conjunction with the Sea Otter Classic. The Jackson
The movie will be screened at the IMBA California Benefit Party with proceeds to benefit the advocacy organization. Tickets cost US$10 at the door. A 50-venue nationwide tour will commence after Sea Otter.
"We're excited to have IMBA as a partner for the Freedom Riders project and given all the hard work and advocacy they put into furthering the sport of biking it's truly a natural fit," said KGB co-founder Sam Pope. "The film shows how important trails are to the mountain biking community and how a dedicated group of riders followed their passion to create history."
Freedom Riders is the Dogtown and Z Boys of mountain biking. The film captures the evolution of freeriding from stealth trail building to forging a working relationship with the US Forest Service to establish the first-ever downhill specific trail in Forest Service history in the Teton Pass area of Wyoming. The film showcases the freeriding subculture in North America from where it was to where it is now by highlighting how the sport has obtained its legitimacy in the public eye.
The movie includes old-school footage of Tom Richey and Gary Fisher and documents the time and work it takes to build a trail for hucking and ripping down singletrack. Freedom Riders isn't the typical bike porn film in that it tells a story. The film features an original soundtrack by Grammy Award nominee Luke Reynolds of Astral Kids.
Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick diary: South American adventures
Mary gets ready to head off
Photo ©: Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
Long days of maddening logistics and stressful preparation were the first sign that Mary and I were getting ready to kick off our 2009 race season. Careful planning for our style of racing and travel is critical. It's important to make certain we bring EVERYTHING that we might need for any given race, condition and time period throughout our entire adventure. Time and again this seems to be the toughest part of our tag team program. The longer the travel, the more intense the planning.
This one includes three weeks in Chile , two weeks in South Africa and two-plus months in Europe. It covers a lot of time, crosses seasonal boundaries and necessitates equipment for a wide range of riding conditions. For all these reasons, we were packing some pretty big luggage. The training, sleep and relationship becomes compromised as we shift into travel mode and try to accomplish the most critical things with our time left to live like "pro riders", but somehow we are always pushing it until the last minute.
The final two days, with only eight hours of sleep, were a difficult crunch and by the end, we were literally throwing random piles of our things into storage, leaving bikes and gear in people's attics and once again relying heavily on the goodness and generosity of our friends. Our last-minute style made a last-second testing visit by USADA (the US national anti-doping association - ed.) more inconvenient than the usual quick visit. After a force feeding of coffee and water to help squeeze the necessary 90ml out of Mary, we were in the car and on the road before the doping control officer was done filing away her papers.
Read the complete diary entry.
Team Torq Diary: Going Oceanic
By Dan McConnell
Katherine O'Shea heads out the elite women's field
Photo ©: Tony Fetch
Two weekends ago, the TORQ team was in Thredbo, NSW, for the 2009 Oceania Championships. TORQ Nutrition founder Matt Hart was out from United Kingdom, so everyone was out to show him just how talented and amazing the Australian wing of the TORQ Nutrition team is.
With the Australian National Series complete, the Oceanias were a great excuse to spend the weekend in the high country and have a laugh. There was definitely still a serious side to the weekend, too, with a fair swag of UCI points up for grabs. The brand new cross country course was tough to say the least. The main grass climb was a killer, and by the time you got to the top, you were seeing stars! And if the course itself wasn't hard enough, the snakes that popped out for a look certainly made up for it!
The cross country women were up first on Saturday morning with Katherine [O'Shea], Tory [Thomas] and Jo [Wall] flying the flag for Torq Nutrition. Although expectations were high, as it often happens, not everything went quite to plan.
Read the complete diary entry.
Countdown to New Zealand singlespeed championships
Less than four weeks remain until the 2009 New Zealand Singlespeed Mountain Bike Championship, on Anzac Day, Saturday, April 25. The race will be run on Rotorua's Whakarewarewa Forest trail network.
"One geared mountain biking is tough, but most riders are here for a laugh and a few beers," said event organizer Dean Watson, "However, at the sharp end it's very serious."
A lot of riders from the first event in 2008 are returning, including defending men's champion and Rotorua legend Garth Weinberg; Mark "Cabin" Leishman, who was a close second in 2008 and shocked the spectators with his beige skin suit; Retro Riders women's champion, Rotorua's Sarah Beadel; and Old Buggers women's champion Denise Thorne from Central Otago.
Top Kiwi mountain bikers Brendan Sharratt and Brenda Clapp, who won the first South Island singlespeed championships, last weekend, will also be in the mix. Rotorua local, Anja McDonald, who is the current UK Women's Singlespeed Champion, will be new to the event.
There are four places at the World Singlespeed Championships in Colorado in Durango, in September up for grabs. "Durango is one of the best mountain biking destinations in the US and the world," said Graeme Simpson. "When we asked for a couple of places at this year's Worlds, the organizers up there told me they loved Kiwis and would we like four."
Two of the places will go to the 2009 men's and women's singlespeed champions. "However, they have to accept the winner's official tattoo," said Watson. "No tattoo, no title." The other two places will be random spot prizes. New for 2009 is a best costume and/or decorated bike.
Last year, the New Zealand singlespeed championships attracted over 250 entries from all over New Zealand and from Australia and the US. Any profit from the event will be put into trail building and maintenance.
Renamed US Open MTB Relay set for the weekend
Formerly the US Open MTB Team Relay, the newly renamed VisitPA.com International Intergalactic Global Open Mountain Bike Team Relay Championship of the Universe is returning for its fourth year at the Oesterling Farm in Marysville, Pennsylvania, on April 4.
The race features a unique handicapping points format that awards points based on laps completed and the team members' experience and ability (hence the "Open" bit). The event, which is the first in the Mid-Atlantic Super Series, was renamed so as not to be confused with the US Open downhill event in New Jersey.
For more information, visit www.highspeedcycling.com.
GearJammer registration open
The Squamish GearJammer, scheduled for Saturday, July 25, has opened registration. The seventh annual edition of the race is a 47 km point-to-point cross country race that will start near Alice Lake (5km North of Squamish, British Columbia) and finish in Rose Park near downtown Squamish.
The course features 80% Squamish singletrack including the Middle Power Smart, ReCycle, Pseudo-Tsuga, and The Plunge trails.
For more information, visit www.gearjammer.ca.
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