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MTB news & racing round-up for February 27, 2009

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

Massi presents downhill and cross country teams

Cross Country World Champion Marga Fullana leads the team
Photo ©: Team Massi
(Click for larger image)

The Massi Team presented its 2009 team on Wednesday at the Escoles Velles in the town of Sant Andreu de la Barca. All team members attended, including World Champion Marga Fullana, Bernat Guardia, Jean Christophe Peraud, Darìo Gasco, Anna Villar, Israel Núñez, Xavi Carnicer and Iván Oulego.

Gravity racer Guardia and French cross country star Jean Christophe Peraud are the two new members of the team.

Team Massi's gravity racers
Photo ©: Team Massi
(Click for larger image)

Team director of the cross country squad, Manuel Gómez Ayala, said his team is focusing on top results this season with Fullana, Peraud, Núñez and Carnicer as well as in the future with up an coming riders Villar and Gasco. "That combination means we have a great team for 2009," he said.

Downhill team director Luis Oulego was equally excited about his riders. "Having Bernat Guardia fulfills a personal and professional dream that I had a long time ago, and I believe that 2009 will be a great year, because we have the best mechanic Pau Zamora, and a Spanish championship to defend with Ivan."

The team will make its season debut at the first round of the Superprestigio Massi in the Asturian locality of Avilés.

Cross country racers will compete on the Massi PRO SL Limited Edition whereas the downhillers will race the Massi Toro DH.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Team Massi

Atherton Racing launches new look and sponsors

Gee, Rachel and Dan Atherton
Photo ©: Sven Martin
(Click for larger image)

The Athertons, mountain biking's most famous family, announced details of their new kit and partners for 2009 which include Animal, Commencal, Nissan and Shimano. Siblings Dan, Gee and Rachel Atherton will continue to ride under the name Animal Commencal to reflect its ongoing relationship with the two brands.

"With Animal and Commencal's continuing support we can really start to focus on our main goals for the year," said Team Manager Dan Brown. "The World Championships and World Cup overall remain the main competitive goals but we also aim to get people excited about our sport and in turn get more people on bikes."

Last summer, the Athertons made history at the World Cup in Andorra when all three won events. Gee and Rachel won the downhill while Dan won the 4X. Soon after, Gee and Rachel won their respective world championship downhill titles in Italy.

The team's new look is inspired by Animal's Summer collection which see the lightning bolts of 2008 replaced with Animal's famous check.

The team also picked up a new major off-bike sponsor, Nissan, which already backs the UCI World Cup series.

After recently racing the Mob N Mojave in Nevada, Gee and Dan are aiming for the opening World Cup in South Africa. The timing of Rachel's racing debut is uncertain as she is still recovering from a serious crash with a pick-up truck in California in January that left her with a dislocated shoulder.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Sven Martin

Full Dynamix presented

Team Full Dynamix
Photo ©: Matteo Mucci
(Click for larger image)

The Full Dynamix team presented its team for the 2009 season last Saturday in Italy. The team will begin racing next Sunday at the Maremma Cup in Marina di Massa. Jhonny Cattaneo and Mykahaylo Batsutsa are leading the seven-rider team for 2009. Although Cattaneo attended the ceremony, Batsutsa did not make it from Ukraine after his papers did not arrive in time. Batsutsa will head to Italy this week.

The team also includes 2000 Olympic champion Miguel Martinez, Leo Paez, Marco Bui, Mauro Bettin and Massimo De Bertolis.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Matteo Mucci

German cross country series set for 2009

The start of the women's race in Muensingen.
Photo ©: Armin M. Kuestenbrueck
(Click for larger image)

The German cross country series, MTB-Bundesliga, will open its 2009 season on less than two months at Muensingen with Olympic gold medalists Sabine Spitz and Julien Absalon in attendance. Between April and August, six venues will host the internationally popular series.

This year, highlights include two UCI category HC races: Bike the Rock at Heubach and the GONSO Albstadt MTB Classic in Albstadt. Never before has any one country hosted two HC events in a given season.

The Sprint Cup, introduced in 2008, will be continued. The competition is similar to cross country skiing and will include five events for which overall points will be awarded.

Under 23 men's award ceremony at Bad Salzdetfurth.
Photo ©: Armin M. Kuestenbrueck
(Click for larger image)

New for 2009 will be an U23-specific classification, and at all but one venue (Goseck), those young riders will compete for UCI points.

MTB-Bundesliga International 2009
April. 5: Goseck (only U23)
April 17-18: Münsingen (1)
May 9-10: Saalhausen (2)
May 16-17: Heubach (HC)
June 13-14: Albstadt (HC)
June 27-28: Wetter/R. (1)
August 15-16: Bad Salzdetfurth (1)

For more information, visit www.rad-net.de.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Armin M. Kuestenbrueck

New US national downhill series unveiled

Gravity racers in the US have a new national-level series of races to contest this year after USA Cycling announced its Pro Mountain Bike Gravity Tour (ProGRT). Five events, including three UCI-sanctioned races, throughout the United States will provide world-class athletes with a consistent stage to showcase their downhill and four cross skills.

Beginning in May, the ProGRT will visit four states and offer series ranking points to top finishers, resulting in overall individual titles for men and women. In addition, competitors will also have the opportunity to accumulate international ranking points as three of the five races are inscripted on the UCI calendar.

The series opens with the downhill contest at the Fluidride Cup in Port Angeles, Washington on May 1-3 and then heads south to the Chile Challenge in New Mexico where both the downhill and four cross contests will be a part of the ProGRT. The tour picks back up on August 8 with both the downhill and four cross at the Blast the Mass in Snowmass, Colorado. The following weekend, the ProGRT moves east to the Yankee Clipper at Windham Mountain, New York, the only race on both the Pro Cross Country Tour (ProXCT) and ProGRT. Wrapping up the tour will be the Whiteface 5K Downhill in Wilmington, New York on August 29.

"The Whiteface Mountain Bike Park is honored to be part of the Pro Gravity Tour. Five of the premier venues in the U.S. have been chosen for this historical series that will surely last for generations," said Downhill Mike, promoter of the Whiteface 5K Downhill. "It is only fitting to be the last race on the tour with our eight-minute downhill track as racers should be in their best condition of the season by late August.

"The Lake Placid - Whiteface region has hosted two Winter Olympics (1932 & 1980) and has attracted numerous top athletes of all kinds ever since. The time has now come to bring a new breed of world class athletes to Whiteface Mountain and Lake Placid. Welcome Pro Gravity Tour."

The objectives of the inaugural USA Cycling Pro GRT are to provide a sequence of international-caliber events for elite gravity racers, to recognize the best gravity athletes competing on American soil, to spotlight America's top races that have made a commitment to host high-level events and ultimately to raise the level of competitive gravity racing in the U.S.

"With the development of the ProGRT we were looking to showcase the country's strongest gravity venues," said USA Cycling Mountain Bike Events and Program Director Kelli Lusk. "We want to bring the elite riders together to compete against the best on the country's top courses and ultimately crown the season's preeminent gravity riders."

2009 USA Cycling Pro Gravity MTB Tour (Pro GRT)
May 1-3: Fluidride Cup - Port Angeles, Washington (DHI) (NE)
May 23-25: Chile Challenge - Angel Fire, New Mexico (DHI/4X)(2)
August 8-9: Blast the Mass - Snowmass, Colorado (DHI/4X)(2)
August 15-16: Yankee Clipper at Windham Mountain, Windham, New York (DHI/4X)(1)
August 29: Whiteface 5K, Wilmington, New York, (DHI) (NE)

Spy photos of SRAM's XX super group

By James Huang

The XX brakes look to be distinctly Elixir-like
Photo ©: WheelGiant
(Click for larger image)

The official launch of SRAM's upcoming XX 2x10 mountain bike is still a solid three months off but a pair of apparent spy photos that have recently surfaced online seemingly provide an early glimpse of what's to come.

Assuming the images are real, here's what we can tell:

Shifters

SRAM has been experimenting with a mountain bike version of its DoubleTap single-lever shifter for some time now: a road version is already commercially available and we spotted a prototype dedicated MTB edition on a bike belonging to SRAM test honch Greg Herbold two years ago.

XX looks to finally bring the idea to fruition on dirt with a single lever that appears to incorporate a carbon paddle co-molded around an aluminum base. We can see no mechanism for adjusting the position of the lever a la X.0 but we'd be quite surprised if it really weren't included.

Otherwise, the body is distinctly X.0-like from what we can see (the top isn't visible) and the XX shifter apparently retains the familiar two-position aluminum clamp - and thus, the same MatchMaker compatibility.

Read the complete article.

Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick diary: On track in Northern California

The colors were stunning
Photo ©: Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
(Click for larger image)

Hello!

Mike and I spent the better part of the late fall and early winter out at Mike's family's home in Massachusetts. Can't think of many places that can match the beauty and where we feel so much at home. It's always great to return to this special place when we can ride tight, narrow, singletrack through a kaleidoscope of changing forests and color and still jump in the ocean for a quick swim. This is a brief and super sweet period since any appreciation of the nice days is magnified greatly by what is sure to lay ahead.

We quickly got into the season when the balaclava, tire studs and indoor trainer sessions started to become too much of a daily threat. On days like these, we were motivated to get out in those "nice" 30 degree (Fahrenheit) spitting grey moments as it just might turn out to be the best training opportunity for the day.

Mike plays around back East
Photo ©: Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
(Click for larger image)

Once the wood splitting and cold, sun-starved days started to become more of a feature than the quiet recuperation for which we had come, we decided it was time to head to Northern California. We came for the holidays, but our love for this place was rekindled as soon as we stepped into the lush, wet NorCal winter, and it dawned on us that this would certainly be the area we would choose for an extended winter training ground.

Read the complete diary entry.

World-class designer unveils new trails at Mt Buller

Five new intermediate loops have been added to Mt. Buller's cross country trail network. The trails were built by Glen Jacobs of the mountain bike course design company World Trail. Jacobs officially signed off on the new track, meaning it is ready for riders. Mt. Buller recently hosted round four of the Australian National Mountain Bike Series.

This development, the first in a three-stage plan, adds five new intermediate loops to Mt Buller's cross country network. Stretching out from the Buller Village to the Corn Hill area, these loops can be tackled individually or grouped together to form a longer 14.2km ride, and are easily navigated with new directional signage and updated trail maps available at outlets across the resort.

The new trails have been designed to be low maintenance, sustainable and with blend seamlessly with the spectacular alpine environment. They have also been constructed so as to take full advantage of the features and vistas of Mt Buller and give visitors an experience unique to a summer resort.

Jacobs and his team have been responsible for local and foreign projects, including the mountain bike course at the Sydney Olympic Games, Australia's largest mountain bike park at Mt Stromlo in Canberra as well as working with the UCI on World Championship and World Cup events across the globe.

"The facility at Buller is just fantastic, there's really nothing like it here or anywhere else in the world. There are cool temperatures, 360 degree views, abundant wildlife and excellent terrain that give riders an exhilaration like no other," said Jacobs.

"We're all excited about seeing stages two and three come to life to help make Mt Buller Australia's premier mountain biking destination," said Phil Nunn, CEO of the Mt. Buller and Mt. Stirling Alpine Resort Management Board. "Stage two of the trail development, which includes a range of beginner trails, is currently underway and set for completion by the end of the year."

Catskills stage race proposed

A group of enthusiasts want to create a four-day, 150-mile stage race called the Wildcat Epic in the Catskill Mountains of New York this summer. The race would visit Minnewaska State Park, Mohonk Preserve and the Hunter Mountain and Cortina ski areas.

"It's going to be one of the biggest mountain biking events of the Northeast," said co-organizer Gunter Stilhaus to the timesunion.com. Stillhaus owns a local outdoor website and is a South Africa native and professional race organizer. He is partnering with Genesis Adventures, a Connecticut-based company which produces triathlons and other endurances races.

Last summer, Windham Mountain, in the Catskills, hosted a stop on the National Mountain Bike Series. The US Cup and ProXCT will return this summer.

The race would run June 18 - 21 and would feature some singletrack built by the local Fats in the Cats mountain bike club.

BMC Mountains to the Sea kicking off soon

Top International contender American John Nobile is looking forward to spending some time in the Australian bush on the back of his bike as he competes in the inaugural BMC Mountains to Beach from March 2 to 6. Nobile, who has won the longest mountain bike race in the world, the Great Divide Race from Canada to Mexico, finished second in the 2008 MTB Himachal race, India's race through the Himalaya. He is keen to add Australia to his list of conquests.

Nobile is up against some tough competition though including current Australian Solo 24-hour Champion Jason English and Crocodile Trophy racer Dennis Van Mill. Apart from his national title, English finished second at the 2009 24 Hours of Adrenalin World Solo Championships and won the 2008 Scott 24-hour race. He was second behind Van Mill in the 100 Mile Highland Fling last November.

In the pairs category, Troy Bailey & Joel Donney are expected to be the front runners. Baily won his 35-39 age group at the 24-hour world solo championships last year and Donney is a regular podium placer in endurance events across Australia. He was the 24-hour world solo Under 25 champion in 2007.

The 375km Mountains to Beach will take racers from Mount Kosciuszko, Australia's highest mountain, to the surf and sand of the South Coast of NSW. Riders will ride the whole distance from the mountains to the beach with the exception of 6km - a ride up the Ski Tube underground railway ascending 600metres from the Thredbo Valley to Perisher Blue Ski Resort.

BMC Mountains to the Sea Stage Race
Day 1, Stages 1-3, March 2: Threadbo, 50km
Day 2, Stages 4-6, March 3: Berghaus Mountain, 86km
Day 3, Stages 7-8, March 4: Buckenderra Resort, 67km
Day 4, Stages 9-10, March 5: Visit Cooma, 123km
Day 5, Stage 11, March 6: Eurobodalla Nature Coast, 45km

MTBA meets donation target for Victoria Bush Fire appeal

Mountain Bike clubs from all over Australia responded to the offer from Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA) to donate AUS$10 each for the first 1,000 riders at any MTBA event so well that the target of AUS$10,000 has already been met. The money has been sent to the Red Cross to help those affected by the Bush fires.

MTBA thanked Brisbane South MTB Club, Canberra Off Road Cyclists, Western Sydney MTB Club, Rocky Trails Events, Launceston MTB Club, Coomella-Mildura Mountainless MTB Club and all the clubs and participants at the You Yangs 6-hour enduro.

Northern California series

The Northern California series, including cross country, downhill and super D races, will kick off on March 22 and culminate with the crowning of the series champions at the LaGrange Fall Classic in Weaversville.

Northern California Series
March 22: CCCX Toro Park (XCO, DHI, Super D), Salinas, www.cccx.org
April 5: Napa Valley Dirt Classic (XCO), Angwin, www.puc.edu/Pioneers/NVDC/
April 25: Shasta Lemurian (XCO), Whiskeytown Lake, www.shastalemurian.org/
May 2: CCCX, Toro Park (XCO), Salinas, www.cccx.org
May 24: Gravity Day (DHI, Super D), Weaverville, www.teambigfoot.net
June 9: Skyline Park (XCO), Napa, www.eaglecyclingclub.org/mtbike.htm
June 21: CCCX, Toro Park (DHI, Super D), www.cccx.org
June 28: CCCX, Fort Ord (XCO), www.cccx.org
August 9: Howell Mountain Challenge (XCO), Angwin, www.puc.edu/Pioneers/HMC
September 26: Whiskeytown Classic (XCO), Whiskeytown Lake, www.teambigfoot.net 
September 27, Whiskeytown Classic (Super D), Whiskeytown Lake, www.teambigfoot.net
October 17: Lagrange Fall Classic (XCO, DHI, Super D), Weaverville, www.teambigfoot.net  

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Northern California Series

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