MTB news & racing round-up for January 17, 2009
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Edited by Sue George
Craig enjoys a post-Olympic, off-season break
By Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor
Adam Craig racing in Beijing at
the Olympic Games
Photo ©: Rob Jones
US Olympian Adam Craig, who renewed his contract with Team Giant through
2010, has been busy cross training and planning how to squeeze as much
fun into the 2009 season as possible. Craig finished the 2008 season ranked
sixth, as the top American, in the World Cup cross country.
"I rode until about December 15 since we had a super long fall.
Since then, I've been skiing and riding dirt bikes and getting away from
it all," said Craig to Cyclingnews from his home in Bend,
Oregon, after returning from a session of backcountry skiing in the rain.
Life has been a blur since the Olympic Games in Beijing. "I'm not
sure what's been going through my head. The last three or four months
have flown by even though I was not racing 'cross."
2008 was a pressure-filled year devoted to making the US team for the
Olympic Games, at which Craig ended up finishing 29th. On the other hand,
2009 will offer not only plenty of racing, but also more opportunities
to participate in different kinds of events.
"My goal is to have a good time," said Craig," and to
skip a World Cup for the first time in six years." That doesn't mean
he's forgotten the need to chase UCI points for subsequent Olympics. Per
current rules and unlike the last pre-Olympic cycle, nations will score
UCI ranking points during the full four pre-Olympic years to qualify their
teams for the next Games in London in 2012.
As for missing that World Cup, Craig has his sights set on sitting out
the round in Madrid. "I think I'll come back and race in Ashland,
Oregon," he said of his alternate plans.
In addition to some World Cups, Craig will attend "whatever US Cups
work out" according to his schedule. "I'm the US National Champion,
so I'd like to do some racing in the US."
Craig will defend his stars and stripes jersey at US Nationals in Colorado.
"I'm excited to go try and win at altitude," he said. The past
three editions of the US National Championships have been held closer
to sea level, at Mount Snow, Vermont.
Mountain bike nationals are just one of the national championships that
Craig will attend. Although he sat out the 2008 cyclo-cross season, he'll
be back for 2009. "Cyclo-cross nationals will be a mile and a half
from my house," said Craig, explaining his motivation.
He is also hoping to race the Cape Epic with teammate Carl Decker, another
rider who has renewed with Giant for 2009. "It's not set in stone,
but Carl and I want to make it happen. We're also hoping to squeeze the
BC Bike (stage race) in."
His list doesn't stop there. "I went and rode in Downieville, California,
a few weeks ago before it started snowing. Then I realized I have to go
There's so much riding to be done, don't look for Craig on his bike for
another few weeks. "I'm still trying to not ride until the first
nice day in February. I'm skiing and doing other stuff. I might do some
Nordic ski racing."
MTN expands mountain bike sponsorship in South Africa
A field of more than 300 of South
Africa's top cross-country racers at the MTN series opener
Photo ©: Gary Perkin
African cellular network giant MTN expanded its sponsorship of mountain
bike racing in South Africa by taking over as the title sponsor of the
country's National Mountain Bike Series for 2009 and 2010.
In 2008 MTN had joined Mazda as a co-sponsor of the 12-event series,
which had been sponsored solely by Mazda for six years since its inception.
"MTN is proud to build upon its commitment to cycling in South Africa
and the sport of mountain biking through the acquisition of the full title
rights for the Mazda MTN National Mountain Bike Series," said Senior
Manager Anthony Garstang, who hopes to grow the number of participants
in the series.
"Mazda has been a strong supporter of mountain biking in South Africa
and has contributed a great deal to the development of the discipline.
MTN is appreciative of the time and resources that Mazda dedicated to
the series over the past seven years and will endeavor to build upon the
foundation it created as we take the MTN National MTB Series forward."
For the next two years, the National Mountain Bike Series will be known
as the MTN National Mountain Bike Series. It comprises a five-event National
Cup Series of cross-country and downhill events, including the national
championships, and a seven-event National Marathon Series, including the
national championships. With more than 9,000 participants, it is the largest
and most prestigious mountain bike series in Africa.
All the events in the National Cup Series are UCI categorized, which
means the top finishers will earn important international rankings points.
"It is exciting to see a huge corporation like MTN investing in
our sport and seeing the potential," said Fritz Pienaar MTN National
Mountain Bike Series Director. "I believe that their increased commitment
will grow mountain biking in general and the series in particular."
2009 South African MTN National Cup Series
January 10-11: Round
1 - Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch, Western Cape (XCO/DHI)
February 7-8: Round 2 - Mankele, Mombela, Mpumalanga (XCO/DHI)
March 14-15: Round 3 - South African National Championships, George, Western
April 4-5: Round 4 - Cascades, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal (XCO/DHI)
May 23-24: Round 5 - Fountains, Pretoria, Gauteng (XCO/DHI)
2009 South African MTN National Marathon Series
January 24: Round 1 - Barberton, Mpumalanga (XCM)
April 26: Round 2 - Chandelier, Oudtshoorn, Western Cape
June 13: Round 3 - Induna, Hazyview, Mpumalanga
August 8: Round 4 - National Championships, N3TC Dirty Harry, Harrismith,
August 30: Round 5 - Blockhouse, Walkerville, Gauteng
October 3: Round 6 - Clarens, Free State
November 7: Round 7 - Fifty Miler, Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal
For more information on the MTN National Mountain Bike Series, visit
Rotorua and Wellington next stops for New Zealand MTB Cup
The RaboPlus New Zealand MTB Cup continues this weekend on January 17-18
in Rotorua and Wellington. Rotorua will host round two of the North Island
Downhill Cup in the Whakarewarewa Forest, while cross country racers will
head to Wellington for the third and final round of the North Island Cross
Sam Blenkinsop will make his return to domestic racing at Saturday's
downhill race. He hasn't raced since winning the final round of the 2008
UCI World Cup in Austria in September, opting instead to enjoy a rest
period in his hometown. His return to competition is not only eagerly
anticipated, but welcomed by a high quality elite field.
Round one winner Ben Cathro, seasoned local charger James Dodds, 2007
World Championship bronze medallist Matt Scoles and junior phenoms Aari
Barrett and Brook MacDonald will be looking to best Blenkinsop on the
challenging and technical Whakarewarewa downhill course. Harriett Harper
will make her first appearance of the New Zealand Cup and will square
off against another local Gabby Molloy in the elite women's race.
Sunday's cross country race in Wellington will roll on the Mt. Victoria
circuit. Clinton Avery suffered a nasty knock to the thigh in Rotorua
two weeks ago, but should be well this weekend to challenge current National
Champion Stu Houltham. Local advantage may play into Gavin McCarthy's
hands, while first-time elite racer Edwin Crossling could provide that
"dark horse" component in the men's race.
Jeanette Gerrie and Nic Leary will make their first Cup appearances,
adding real depth to the elite women's field in which Monique Avery will
look to extend her advantage into North Island series win. Samara Sheppard
will be racing on her home turf and will compete with what will no doubt
be a large and vocal Wellington crowd, while aiming to reverse the result
from last week's Auckland race in which Avery pedalled away from her in
the closing stages to take the win.
The U19 racers will be on course along with the elites. Dirk Peters has
been circulating at the elite pace in the previous two rounds but will
have a bunch of other youngsters right on his heels.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews' for coverage of the New Zealand MTB
Barrel plans ultimate Super D
Downhiller Fabien Barrel is the man behind what may be the ultimate Super
D coming to Africa from February 2-9. The Frenchman and ten and nine others
are the "pilots" racing the Urge Kenya as a benefit.
They will take three days to climb up to the start, at 4,985m just under
Lenana Peak on Mount Kenya, while the trip back down is expected to take
three hours. It will finish off at an elevation of 2,000m.
On the way up, riders will meet locals and learn words of the Swali language.
Those who learn the most will get the best starting positions.
"Our goal is to set up the most spectacular super D event to support
a human cause," said Barrel. "All benefits will go to support
a help care association in the country." The event's target is 10,000
euros to go toward ACORD International, a non-governmental organization
working for social justice and development in Africa.
The men joining Barrel include Mark Weir, Wade Simmons, Darren Berrecloth,
Nicolas Vouilloz, Rene Wildhaber, Remy Absalon, Alexandre Balaud, Yvaral
Villier, Sam Peridy.
Rosa firms deal with Giant Italia
Photo ©: Team Giant Italia
Giant Italia officially signed a promising young talent, Diego Rosa,
for three years. With the deal formalized, Rosa will compete beside the
team's star, Spaniard Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez. Rosa, an U23 racer, will
follow a similar calendar to that of Alvarez Gutierrez as he works to
gain national and international racing experience.
"Diego Rosa is a talented cyclist, who has performed well in national
and international races," said the team's Technical Manager Gianfranco
Bechis of the racer based on his performances in 2008.
"I'm so proud of this agreement. I will take part in the most important
races of this season," beamed Rosa.
Rosa will race the Internazionali d'Italia, World Cups, Cross National
Championships, Bundesliga series and Coupe de France VTT events. He'll
join the team for its first camp in Sicily from February 5 to 23.
Czech 4X race calendar packed
The Czech 4X scene is alive and well with the Czech 4X Cup, the Czech
4X League and the Moravian 4X League offering nearly two dozen four cross
and dual slalom events for 2009. The schedule is listed below.
Czech 4X Cup 2009
May 31: Round #1 - Prague Polis.13
July 5: Round #2 - Sumperk
August 22: Round #3 - Tosovice
October 4: Round #4 -Litomerice
Czech 4X League 2009
May 16: Round #1 - Kraslice (DS)
May 17: Round #2 - Kraslice (4X)
May 30: Round #3 - Prague Polis.13 (4X)
June 6: Round #4 - Utery (DS)
June 7: Round #5 - Utery (4X)
July 18: Round #6 - Mlada Boleslav (DS)
July 19: Round #7 - Mlada Boleslav (4X)
August 1: Round #8 - As (DS)
August 2: Round #9 - As (4X)
August 8: Round #10 -Kraslice (DS)
August 9: Round #11 - Kraslice (4X)
September 28: Round #12 - Pec pod Snezkou (to be confirmed)
Moravian 4X League 2009
April 11: Round #1 - Mankovice
May 3: Round #2 - Moravka
June 13: Round #3 - Tosovice
June 20: Round #4 - Dolni Morava
July 4: Round #5 - Sumperk
August 8: Round #6 - Prerov
October 10: Round #7 - Znojmo
Other Czech events 2009
August 9: Grand Prix of Prerov, Prerov
August 23: Czech 4X National Championships, Tosovice (Czech licensed racers
Gunn Rita Dahle Flessja diary: Looking back and forward
Elvis makes an appearance
Photo ©: Gunn Rita Dahle Flesjaa
The Christmas steak is finished and the presents have all been opened.
It's been lovely for us to take part in a more "normal" form
of Christmas celebration this year. Now we're looking forward to an exciting
and action-packed New Year, both on and off our bikes.
We tend to spend the last days of the old year thinking through what
2008 has given us of both good and bad experiences, what it's taught us,
and which challenges we've come up against. For me, I can summarize last
year as an unforgettable year which gave me everything I had hoped for.
Read the complete
Frischknecht launches Maremma Cup
Two cross country stars, Swiss champion Thomas Frischknecht and Italian
Martino Fruet, helped launch the Maremma Cup to be held in the hilly landscape
of Maremma's Metalliferous Hills in Tuscany, Italy over the first two
weekends of March.
The Maremma Cup includes two UCI category two events. It will feature
a cross country race starting from Massa Marittima, Grosseto, and going
through the upper part of this municipality, along the paths and hills
of the Poggio park and surrounding forests, with a 5km circular route
and a height difference of 120 metres, lap after lap.
The technical and demanding track will give cyclists the opportunity
to test their conditions at the beginning of the season among views of
the Follonica Gulf, the island of Elba and old settlements, villages and
castles and a rich century-old cultural heritage.
Olympic Champion Julien Absalon, Jose Antonio Hermida, Florian Vogel,
Miguel Martinez, Nino Schurter, Ral Naef, Roel Paulissen, Emil Lindgren,
Marco Fontana, Kaschi Leuchs, Blaza Klemencic and Eva Lechner are among
those already committed to start.
The programme includes a demonstration race on Saturday, February 28
along a circular, 500m track through the medieval streets of Massa Marittima
as well as workshops and a mountain bike school for young riders in between
the race weekends.
For more information, visit www.maremmacup.com.
Moots Cycles partners with Dirt Sweat & Gears
Dirt Sweat & Gears (DSG), a 12-hour endurance race that is part of
the USA Cycling 2009 Mountain Bike National Ultra-Endurance Calendar,
got a sponsorship boost Wednesday when Moots Cycles signed a two-year
commitment to back the event in Fayetteville, Tennessee. Moots crew members
will travel 1,402 miles from their high altitude home in Steamboat Springs,
Colorado, to the oxygen-rich race venue to partake both as partners and
racers in the popular southeastern US mountain bike event.
"Moots' pledge allows us to enhance the overall event for 2009 and
2010," said Clay Higgins, DSG event promoter.
Last year's Dirt Sweat & Gears drew 300 racers from 31 states and
Canada including Nat Ross, Tinker Juarez, Josh Tostado, Rebecca Rusch
and Pua Sawicki. This year's event is scheduled for May 9.
Festivities will also include a bike-lovers film and a 20 inch wheel
night time trial in the infield of the race course. The main event will
see racers cover laps of a 10-mile course with 1,500 feet of elevation
gain per lap.
Professional men, women and singlespeeders will race for US$11,000 in
cash with equal payouts to the men and women. Proceeds will benefit the
Southern Off Road Bicycle Alliance (SORBA) to help in their continuing
efforts to provide trail accessibility for the Southeast US mountain biking
For more information, visit www.dirtsweatandgears.com.
Great Singapore Carnival returns
The Great Singapore Mountain Bike Carnival is returning to Tampines Bike
Park for a weekend of fat tire action. Saturday, February 28 will feature
an action-packed day, including short track, Super D qualifying and finals,
and marathon events. Approximately 900 national and 100 foreign racers,
including American Tinker Juarez, are expected to compete. For more information,
Fight Cancer, Win a Superfly Singlespeed
The winner's Superfly Singlespeed
Photo ©: Elden Nelson
Singlespeeders have the chance to win one of the ultra-rare Gary Fisher
Superfly singlespeeds by donating money to fight cancer. Elden Nelson,
also known as "Fatty" of the popular FatCyclist.com blog, has
a wife who is battling cancer, so he's making a point of joining in the
Nelson, Gary Fisher Bicycles and SLC Bicycles have partnered to give
away a complete Superfly frameset along with components to build it up.
All proceeds will go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. To enter the
raffle, donate to Elden's LiveStrong Challenge page. For every US$5.00
donated, a person is automatically awarded a virtual raffle ticket, with
the raffle being held February 1. For more information or to enter, visit
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