MTB news & racing round-up for January 15, 2009
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Edited by Sue George
Favorites win South Africa Cup opener
Burry Stander confirmed his world-class
status when he charged to a dominant victory
Photo ©: Gary Perkin
Africa's top cross-country mountain bike racer, Burry Stander (Specialized),
dished out a world-class hiding when he won the first round of the MTN
National Cup Series cross country by more than seven minutes in Stellenbosch,
South Africa on Saturday. On Sunday, the downhillers got their turn, and
Cape Town's Andrew Neethling (Trek) did not disappoint, despite the hometown
pressure he faced en route to winning the opening downhill round.
Resplendent in his new red Specialized team kit, Stander, the 2008 Under
23 World Cup champion, was in no mood for company and took the lead early
on, completing the six laps of the technical 8.2 kilometre course through
Jonkershoek in a quick two hours, 15 minutes and 24 seconds. Renay Goustra
(GT) and Johnny Kritzinger (Schwinn) rounded out the men's pro-elite podium
positions in second and third respectively, but were the first two elite
"I had some pressure on me after having a really good year of international
results in 2008, so I was kind of the guy with a target on his back today.
I wanted to prove a point in my first race and I think I managed that,"
In the women's cross country , local regional champion, Sara Muhl (Jeep)
gave her large home crowd good reason to cheer when she captured a comfortable
victory over Tania Raats (Bell Equipment), with Julia Colvin (Maverick)
a close third.
Neethling, who ended 2008 ranked 14th in the world according to the UCI
and who finished 11th in the 2008 UCI World Cup downhill, clocked a time
of two minutes and 11.34 seconds for the fast, narrow descent through
the forests of Jonkershoek.
Johann Potgieter (Cannondale) secured second place, just less than five
seconds back with Neethling's younger brother, Jonty Neethling (Morewood
Fox), rounding out the top three places in front of a large, enthusiastic
crowd that had braved the hot, dusty conditions.
Rika Olivier's sub-three-minute
time gave her a comfortable win
Photo ©: Gary Perkin
Riding a brand new Trek Session 88, which was only released from customs
last Wednesday, Neethling set out on his first of two runs to get familiar
with the bike with the intention of improving his time with his second
and final run.
"I made a few small mistakes near the top on the first run but was
really pushing hard in what was basically a 'feeler' run, which I felt
was necessary since I was riding not only a new bike, but a new brand
and haven't done a race for quite a while," said Neethling who ended
up clocking his winning time with that run.
"On the second run, I went out a bit harder at the top, overshot
a turn on what is a really narrow course and had a small crash. I thought
I could still rescue the run, but a couple of errors further on left me
well off my first run time.
In the women's downhill, Rika Olivier eclipsed Gina Nixon and Vicky Phillips
to claim the victory.
The next cross country and downhill round of the South African MTN National
Cup will take place in Mankele, Nelspruit, on February 7-8.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the cross
country and downhill
openers of the MTN National Cup.
Houltham and Avery win elite round two races in Auckland
Stuart Houltham and Monique Avery won their respective elite races in
round two of the North Island Cross Country Cup series in Auckland, New
Zealand, last weekend. Houltham captured elite men's race ahead of Mike
Northcott and Gavin McCarthy. The top two riders swapped positions from
round one the week prior.
In the women's race, Monique Avery kept Samara Sheppard right on her
wheel for much of the race. It wasn't until the final stages that Avery
pulled away from Sheppard for a well deserved win at a margin of 55 seconds.
Nicole Swain finished third, five minutes back.
Rotorua rider and U19 men's winner Dirk Peters, who placing first in
the Under 19 men's category, wasn't deterred by the sandy track. "It
was a fun course with some good downhill," said Peters. "I really
enjoyed the sandy sections, but the heat made it a testing race."
Event Organiser and Auckland Mountain Bike Club President Marke Jennings-Temple
was pleased with the turnout of 134 racers.
Round three of the North Island Cross Country Cup will happen in Wellington
on January 18. The weekend will also bring downhill racers to Rotorua
for the second round of the North Island Downhill Cup in the Whakarewarewa
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of round
two of the New Zealand North Island Cross Country Cup.
Sea Otter earns spot on international calendar
Melissa Buhl (KHS) racing at Sea
Photo ©: Sean Walkinshaw
The popular, four-day Sea Otter Classic will host one of the most important
races on the US Mountain Bike Calendar this spring in Monterey, California.
With the highest cash purse and one of less than a dozen UCI-sanctioned
races in the US, Sea Otter's cross country race is expected to draw a
top notch field of elite athletes. The category one race is also part
of the brand new US Cup, a nation-wide series, and the Kenda Cup West,
a western regional-series.
"Sea Otter is the shining star of the US Cup," said Tom Spiegel,
director of west coast operations for the US Cup. "Its high-caliber
racing has been making it one of the most important events on the calendar
for years. We are thrilled that we can include it in this new national
series. With higher stakes, it makes the competition better and a podium
spot more valuable."
The four-day event from April 16-19 will feature cross country, short
track, super D, four cross and downhill events as well as a tech expo,
bike demo area, free ride skills practice area, road races and fun rides
- on and off the dirt.
Racers like Manual Prado, who won the semi-pro cross country race in
2007 and was California state champion in 2008, and pro downhiller Kathy
Pruitt are among those expected to compete.
Bootleg Canyon's Thompson suffers heart attack
Quadruple bypass surgery scheduled
Brent Thomson, Godfather and Trail Master of Bootleg Canyon suffered
a heart attack last Saturday while riding the trails that he has famously
cut into the mountains surrounding Boulder City, a stone's throw from
Las Vegas, Nevada.
"I try to stay in reasonable shape, and was even riding when I started
to feel chest pain and severe shortness of breath," said Thomson
while awaiting surgery. "My assistant Andrew helped me out and my
son Barret got me to the hospital pretty quickly. Now I'm just waiting
to go under the knife."
Thomson was scheduled to undergo the second quadruple bypass of his life
on Wednesday. Sixteen years ago he had the same surgery performed due
to an unusually high hereditary cholesterol build-up.
Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park consists of an extensive network of
downhill and cross country mountain bike trails located in Boulder City,
Nevada. The area draws riders from as far away as Japan and Germany. The
International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has certified one of the
cross country trails as an Epic Ride, a title given out only 18 times
Bootleg Canyon has also hosted the popular Outdoor Demo Day associated
with the Interbike Trade Show, held annually in September.
Thomson's dedication to creating, maintaining and promoting the trails
of Bootleg Canyon has created one of the most lauded riding areas in the
Southwest. Unfortunately his position comes without a health insurance
policy and his expenses are expected to total several hundred thousand
dollars. Those wishing to donate to help Thomson can be do so via Paypal
(to firstname.lastname@example.org). Well wishers may send messages of support
to St. Rose Dominican Hospital - San Martin ER c/o Brent Thomson, 8280
West Warm Springs Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89113 USA.
Dutch officials show support for European championship
By Marcel Slagman
Dutch Federation's Harjan van Dam,
Race Organizer Martin Pieterse and Frans Muijzers of Zoetermeer
Photo ©: Marcel Slagman
The Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) is supporting the organization of
the European cross country and trials championships in Zoetermeer. On
Tuesday, KNWU director Harjan van Dam, race organizer Martin Pieterse
and alderman of the town of Zoetermeer Frans Muijzers signed an agreement
putting that support in writing. The European Championships will be held
in Het Buytenpark, near the big indoor ski center Snowworld, from July
"Our federation needs this kind of initiative," Van Dam said.
,"Sport exists thanks to people who organize good events. For us,
it is important that mountain biking develops more in The Netherlands,
and we are focusing on that."
"When riders like the Belgium champion Sven Nys or the Olympic champions
Sabine Spitz and Julien Absalon come to Zoetermeer, it will give mountain
biking as a sport in our country good exposure. And we need that.''
Pieterse of Stichting Wielerpromotion Het Groene Hart said that his
organization will be ready to do the job in July. "People are excited.
The course is 5.1km long. But certainly not flat, which is what many foreign
riders maybe will expect.''
New dates for US 24 hour nationals & Ultra-endurance calendar
The USA Cycling 24 hour national championships, originally scheduled
for September 19-20 have been moved to October 24-25 and a new venue.
They will be held in Phoenix, Arizona, under the guidance of promoter
The event remains part of the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendar
- Ultra Endurance (MBNC-UE). An updated calendar of the events in the
series is below.
USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Calendar - Ultra-endurance
February 14: Mas o Menos 100km (Texas) (XCM)
February 21: 12 hours of Santos (Florida) (12h)
March 7-8: Spa City Extreme (Arkansas) (XCM)
May 9: Dirt, Sweat & Gears (Tennessee) (12h)
June 20: Cowbell Challenge (North Carolina) (12h)
July 4: US Marathon National Championships (Colorado) (XCM)
October 16-18: National MTB Oktoberfest (North Carolina) (8h)
October 24-25: US 24 hour national championships (Arizona) (24h)
La Ruta course unaffected by earthquake
Trudging across at La Ruta
Photo ©: Rob Jones
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Costa Rica's Central-North area last
Thursday did not affect the course for the La Ruta de los Conquistadores
stage race. The Pacific, Central-South and Caribbean areas of the country,
which host the traditional course, were not damaged.
The quake, with an epicenter located some 50 kilometers north of San
José, destroyed more than 20 kilometers of roads and more than
400 houses, but most of the tourist interest points and tour operations
across the nation are still working normally. 20 people have been found
dead thus far and more than 40 others are missing at "ground zero"
where the quake took place.
Organizers said they appreciated the concern and messages of support
following the quake. "It is very sad to see what is happening to
our country and our people. It has been a disaster at the zone that was
directly hit by the earthquake," said La Ruta's PR Director Luis
"Nevertheless, the line that crosses the Costa Rican territory from
the Pacific to the Caribbean through the center of the country fortunately
was unaffected," said Rueda.
The next edition of the race is scheduled for November 11-14.
TransRockies kicks off Ambassador Program
Chris Sheppard and Andreas Hestler
The TransRockies stage race has added a new kind of support to help the
majority of racers who come each year with the primary goal of finishing.
While riders come to the start line with ample physical and logistical preparation,
the singularly wild and rugged nature of the TransRockies means that there
are always unexpected obstacles to overcome along the way to the finish
Photo ©: Dan Hudson
In 2009, with the help of some dedicated members of the race's family,
organizers are launching the TransRockies Ambassador program, a new on-course
rider support program unique among epic events.
The TransRockies Ambassadors are a team of two riders who will ride the
course each day from start to finish providing additional mechanical support
as needed to help riders fix mechanical issues and get to the finish line.
They will start at the back of the field and gradually work their way
forward as the stage progresses. Ambassadors will carry an extensive selection
of tool and spares and be easily identifiable on course with specific
number plates and backpack markings.
The TransRockies Bike Sweep program was initiated in 2008 to make sure
the race adhered to the leave no trace ethic after it had passed through.
While the bike sweeps carried spares and offered emergency rider support,
they were often hours behind the bulk of the field. The Ambassadors will
offer this same support from within the field.
To keep racers from skipping out on carrying necessary equipment, a nominal
time penalty will be imposed for those needing Ambassador assistance to
complete a stage. The program is intended to help riders overcome the
worst mechanical issues and provide assistance, advice and encouragement
as needed to get everyone to the finish line.
The two riders who will inaugurate this program are five-time finishers
Simon Parker and Jim Seethram. "There's really nothing worse for
a TransRockies participant than getting evacuated off course to the finish
line," said Parker. "The Ambassador Program will hopefully build
upon the TransRockies camaraderie and spirit of cooperation and will help
some riders avoid the sweep and have the great TransRockies experience
they imagined when they signed up."
For more information on the TransRockies, visit www.transrockies.com.
Torq team diary: Breaking the curse
By Tory Thomas & Katherine O'Shea
Katherine O'Shea rode well from
Photo ©: Tony Fetch
For most of the Torq team, the start of the 2008-2009 Australian mountain
bike season has been really hectic. It's been an awesome experience flying
and driving around Australia attending races as a team; however as is
the experience of most athletes, I think most of the team has found it
really tricky to cram so much racing and travel (and all the other bits
of life) in to such a small time frame!
We recently had a team training camp in Mount Beauty, Victoria, after
Christmas, and after such a hectic start to the Australian race season,
it was sheer bliss to spend a week in my hometown with friends just riding,
swimming in the river, hanging out at BBQs, and more riding!
During this time of year, Mount Beauty (and nearby Bright) is the ideal
training area for mountain bikers - there are beautiful alpine climbs
for long road rides, endless fireroad trails for off-road adventures,
awesome flowing and technical singletrack, and lots of rivers and swimming
holes to cool off burning leg muscles! So long as you're armed with some
good sunscreen, fly repellent, and a good eye for dodging snoozing snakes
on the roads and trails, Mount Beauty is training Nirvana.
Read the complete diary
El Reto del Quetzal race registration to open
The start of the El Reto Del Quetzal
Photo ©: Netzer Quan
The El Reto del Quetzal race is getting some new dates and more singletrack
for 2009. The Guatemalan event will happen next on October 9-11.
"The route for this year will have some changes. We have found more
singletrack," said race's Netzer Quan, who is expecting the event
to sell out again.
Registration for up to 100 teams will open on January 19. For more information,
Tahune MTB Marathon
Set in the beautiful Huon Valley of Southern Tasmania and featuring some
new trails, the Tahune MTB Marathon will cover a one lap, 100km loop that
starts and finishes at the world-renowned Tahune Airwalk. The February
7 event will also feature a 50km option.
The event is regarded as one of the tougher marathon events in Australia;
it will also double as the Tasmanian Mountain Bike Marathon Championships,
marking the first time that an Australian state has held its own championships
in the marathon discipline.
Sid Taberlay (Team Sho-Air), an Australian now based in California, will
race in preparation for the upcoming American mountain bike season. He'll
take on dual Olympic silver medallist (rowing lightweight in Sydney and
Athens) Simon Burgess.
For more information, visit www.tahunemtbmarathon.com.au
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2009)