MTB news & racing round-up for January 29, 2009
Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in mountain biking.
Feel free to send feedback, news, & releases to firstname.lastname@example.org
and results, reports & photos to email@example.com.
Edited by Sue George
Jongewaard and Fry collect titles Down Under
Defending national champion Chris
Jongewaard rides consistently
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
Missing out on the Beijing Olympics was far from Chris Jongewaard's mind
as he claimed his fourth Australian national cross country title in Canberra
on Sunday. Jongewaard's win mades it his third consecutive title.
The Adelaide rider dominated from the start, and he posted an impressive
finishing time of one hour and 57.08 seconds over the five-lap event.
The 28-year-old annihilated his opposition from the start, and the race
for second became a tussle between two Canberra riders Ben Henderson and
Dylan Cooper. Henderson claimed second by five seconds over Cooper.
In the elite women's cross country, Launceston's Rowena Fry claimed her
first national title. The 26-year-old faced stiff competition and was
unable to break away from Bendigo's Jo Wall until the fourth and final
"I'm really stoked," said a surprised Fry. "I was going
to be happy with a top five. I've been dreaming about it for a year and
a half now."
Rowena Fry celebrates her win
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
After recent return to training following a bout with chronic fatigue
syndrome, Fry surprised herself with a national jersey in her first race
back. "I haven't raced for quite a long time so I didn't know what
to expect," she said. "I got a break a couple of times. In the
last lap, I managed to get a break and hang onto it."
Wall finished just 35 seconds behind Fry to claim second. Brisbane's
Jodie Willett placed third.
Monday brought more good news for both cross country national champions.
Jongewaard and Fry won the short track titles, too.
National U23 Champion Norris transfers form from road to dirt
Lachlan Norris (TIS)
Photo ©: Dave Bateman Photography
After a hectic start to his season racing the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic
on the road in early January, Lachlan Norris proved that his talent persists
off-road, too. He won the under 23 cross country at the Australian National
Mountain Bike Championships this past weekend, not long after finishing
sixth place in the Australian U23 National Road Championships.
Norris' success on the dirt came despite a nasty crash prior to his race.
The crash left him feeling not at 100% on the big day, yet his persistence
"The last climb was brutal," said Norris. "But my coach,
Chris Clarke, confirmed I was on track for my second National Title as
I headed out for the last half lap, which helped me stay smooth and keep
the throttle open all the way to the line."
He will shift his focus to preparing for the first World Cup round in
April, where as national champion, he'll appear wearing the rings of green
and gold on his jersey.
Hannah back on track
After an 18-month break from competition, Mick Hannah returned to racing
in full style at the Australian National Mountain Bike championships.
The 25-year-old Hannah, older brother of former junior world champion
downhiller Tracey Hannah, won the national downhill title ahead of BMX
Olympian Jared Graves.
Hannah was competing in Canberra as a way to check out the World Championship
course for September's event. "Being the way I am, I can't go into
a race without trying to win," said Hannah to the Cairns Post.
"But I would not have been disappointed if I hadn't won. I came to
see what time I could ride and what I would have to do in training for
the World Championships."
The break was both necessary and good for Hannah. "I'd raced bikes
for 17 years up until then. I didn't touch a bike for 10 months. But by
the end of the year I was starting to watch race results and getting charged
Hannah is already looking toward some other events. He'll race the next
round of the national series in Mt. Bulla and the World Cup opener in
South African in April.
New Zealanders show mixed results at Australian Nationals
New Zealand riders competing in the Australian national mountain bike
Championships earned mixed results in Canberra last weekend. Eleven of
New Zealand's most promising junior and two elite female cross country
athletes competed at Stromlo Forest Park on the outskirts against Australia's
best. All, who were part of the Mountain Bike New Zealand Athlete Development
Programme, enjoyed the chance to race on the same course that will be
used for the 2009 World Mountain Bike Championships in September.
In the Under 19 junior men's race, Adrian Retief raced to a solid plan
within a group of four riders trying to chase down winner Michael Baker.
He was rewarded for his efforts with third place, while Rotorua's Sam
Shaw was two minutes back in fifth. But attrition struck two of NZ's brightest
talents; Patrick Avery withdrew on his second lap due to a possible broken
wrist after a nasty crash while challenging for the race lead and Dirk
Peters gambled on a lightweight set of race tires which punctured on the
first lap and again later on the third lap.
In the Under 19 junior women's race, Sarah-Kate McDonald got her first
taste of international competition when she diced with Queensland's Gillian
Burgess for her entire three-lap race, finishing in third mere seconds
behind Burgess. Her teammate Jesse Loe wasn't as fortunate and withdrew
after two laps following an unplanned excursion off-course.
Nic Leary produced the team's best performance in the elite women's race
with a ninth place.
The athletes returned to New Zealand with plans to contest the South
Island Cross Country Cup, which will kick off this Sunday, February 1
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of Australian
Mountain Bike Nationals.
Knox & De Villiers win tough season-opener
Max Knox conserved his energy early
Photo ©: MTN National Marathon Series
Max Knox, 21, proved he's maturing into one of South Africa's new endurance
sport stars when he won the tough first round of the MTN National Marathon
Mountain Bike Series in Barberton on Saturday.
Clocking a time of five hours, 11 minutes and 28 seconds for the gruelling
120km race, which included almost 4,000 metres of ascent, Knox (DCM Chrome)
led his team in a top-three sweep across the finish line with Jacques
Janse van Rensburg finishing second and Brandon Stewart in third.
However, Stewart was later disqualified for an incident involving South
African marathon champion Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) out on the course.
Evans crossed the finish line fourth, but was promoted to third following
"It was a pretty brutal race today but a good one to win. We had
quite a fast pace early on so it ended up being a matter of who had the
most left at The end. My teammates were strong today. Any one of us could
have won. I just happened to be the least tired at the end," said
a typically modest Knox.
Yolande de Villiers had reason
Photo ©: MTN National Marathon Series
Knox, Stewart and Janse van Rensburg were in the small select lead group
that formed early on along with defending champion Burry Stander (Mr Price
Specialized) and 2007 winner, Evans. Stander, the current Under 23 World
Cup cross-country champion, crashed in the muddy conditions just before
halfway, sustaining a knee injury. For fear of aggravating the injury,
Stander opted to withdraw, leaving Evans to contend with the DCM Chrome
trio on his own.
In the women's 75km event, Yolande de Villiers (Cycle Lab Supercycling
Toyota) made a triumphant return to racing following a disappointing 2008,
most of which saw her sidelined by a lengthy recovery from shoulder surgery.
The 35-year-old former national marathon champion took an early lead
and finished in a respectable time of three hours, 43 minutes and 20 seconds,
almost 20 minutes ahead of runner-up Ischen Stopforth, who ran her bike
across the finish line as a result of a mechanical problem late in the
race. Chrissie Viljoen (MTN Energade) completed the top three.
"I was a bit apprehensive for the long, fast downhill so I pushed
hard at the start to try and build up as much of a lead as I could. That
way I could be a bit cautious on the downhill," said an elated De
Villiers, who was virtually unchallenged throughout the race.
"There were a lot of river crossings late in the race and by the
end, my arm and hand had gone numb. But it was a case of putting mind
over matter since I was very motivated to defend my title. I am so happy
to win my first big race back!"
The next event in the MTN National Marathon series, Chandelier, will
take place in Oudtshoorn on Sunday, April 26.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Barberton
round of the South African National Marathon Series.
Blenkinsop & Harper win North Island Cup downhill final
Photo ©: Bike NZ
Levin hosted the third and final North Island downhill round of the Raboplus
MTB Cups. World Cup round winner and world-ranked number seven Sam Blenkinsop
won the elite men's race, making him the first New Zealander to be at
the top of the podium during this series after Scottish rider Ben Cathro
had won rounds one and two.
James Dodds made a welcome return to the podium in second with Edward
Masters also ending a long dry spell by claiming third.
Cathro, who has been thoroughly enjoying a summer of high-quality racing
in New Zealand, had an unfortunate crash in the top section of the course
after being the top qualifier. Despite his crash, he said optimistically,
"It was loose and the jumps were radical. I am looking forward to
the South Island series." There is he expected to make more trips
to the podium.
Harriet Harper headed the elite women's category with little competition.
Her fellow racers were either injured or did not finish their run. North
Island Downhill Cup leader and Frenchwoman Emmeline Ragot, who won rounds
one and two, was not at Levin as she was racing in Canberra at the Australian
National Championships this weekend.
The series will cross to the South Island for three downhill rounds in
Dunedin, Queenstown and Blenheim and three cross country races in Dunedin,
Queenstown and Timaru before the New Zealand National Championships wrap
things up in Nelson February 26 to March 1.
See Cyclingnews' full coverage of round
three of the North Island Downhill Cup.
McConneloug and Broderick renew sponsorship for custom program
Mary McConneloug & Mike Broderick
Photo ©: Mary McConneloug
US National Champion Mary McConneloug and teammate Michael Broderick
will continue managing their custom-tailored 2009 race program racing
under the name Team Kenda-Seven-NoTubes.
"Kenda Tires has stood with us through a vast transition from our
pure grassroots to the program that we have come into today," said
McConneloug, who represented the US at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China,
last summer. "Mike and I are thrilled to be signing an unprecedented
second four-year contract with Kenda that will see us through the 2012
season." The two have spent many years travelling the globe and racing
at an elite level.
Kenda has also given its support to the US national mountain bike scene.
It is backing the US Kenda Cup, a series of races on the East and West
Coast throughout 2009.
While American bicycle manufacturer Seven Cycles is a familiar sponsor
for the two Americans, No Tubes is new to the title sponsorship role.
"We have a long history of working alongside NoTubes and it is a
great honor to have them with us as a core supporter."
"We are happy to be able to develop a program with companies that
are so well equipped to offer us the tools we need for ultimate race performance,"
said McConneloug. She and Broderick will focus on an international competition
schedule including the World Cups, World Championships, Continental Championships
and domestic races throughout Europe and other places abroad.
On the domestic side, the team will defend McConneloug's national title
at the US National Championships as well as attend several races in the
ProXCT and Kenda Cups.
Rocky Mountain Bicycles launches Factory XC-Epic Racing team
Rocky Mountain won the women's
Cape Epic in 2008 with Pia Sundstedt and Alison Sydor
Photo ©: Karin Schermbrucker / SPORTZPICS
Rocky Mountain Bicycles has announced its new Factory XC-Epic Racing
Team, creating a team dedicated to non-World Cup events. The new squad
will be attending epic stage races, all-mountain events, enduros and festivals.
Alison Sydor, Mountain Bike Hall of Fame member, three-time World Champion,
and Olympic silver medalist is returning to the Rocky Mountain team in
2009. She had an extremely successful season in 2008, winning both the
Cape Epic Challenge and the Trans Alp Challenge. In 2009, she will be
looking for more stage racing domination with confirmed starts at Cape
Epic, TransGermany and TransAlp.
Sydor is joined by Andreas Hestler, a Canadian Olympian and three-time
winner of the Trans Rockies. Hestler had a successful 2008 season, winning
a stage at both the BC Bike Race and the Trans Rockies. For 2009, he will
be targeting various other races and epic single day events, such as the
Downieville Classic and the Fruita Fat Tire Festival.
New to the factory team are Stefan Widmer and Marty Lazarski, formerly
of the Rocky Mountain-Different Bikes squad. Both have several Canada
Cup podium finishes to their credit and together finished third overall
in the 2008 TransRockies stage race.
Rounding out the team is Evan Guthrie, the 2008 Canadian Junior cross
country and cyclo-cross Champion. Still with a year left in the junior
category, Evan is poised for another stellar season.
Cross-country star Marie-Hélène Prémont, a member
of the team since 2004, took two gold medals at Fort William and Mont-Sainte-Anne,
three silver and three bronze medals and claimed first place overall after
eight of the nine races of the 2008 World Cup season. At the 2008 Beijing
Games, she was forced to retire from the race due to hyperventilation,
but she will continue racing the World Cup circuit in 2009.
Rocky Mountain Bicycles Factory XC-Epic Racing Team: Alison Sydor,
Andreas Hestler, Stefan Widmer, Marty Lazarski, Evan Guthrie.
La Ruta delays big changes until 2010
Organizers of the La Ruta de los Conquistadores have decided to maintain
the four-day format and all courses for this year's event, the 17th edition,
to be held on November 11-14. A
fifth day was to be added to the race in 2009, including some new
courses; however, after a preliminary exploration, organizers determined
that more coordination and resources would be necessary for such purpose.
"We have analyzed the current situation and our options, so we decided
to stay on the same configuration for one more year," said Race Director
Diego Viquez. "2009 will represent the opportunity for making the
proper arrangements, designing the best race and having the necessary
time for the staff and potential participants to prepare themselves for
big changes that will be introduced for next year's La Ruta".
"We want to do it right and the current situation would not allow
us to do it that way. We postponed these major changes until the 2010
event. Nevertheless, we still promise a great adventure and the coolest
experience for this year's entrants," said Viquez.
Organizers are still planning to improve the lodging and services by
using better hotels and by including mechanical care.
GT Bicycles recruiting for grassroots racing program
GT Bicycles is recruiting 35 mountain bike racers across the US for
its new grassroots program: the GT Dirt Coalition. Each member will race
and represent GT Bicycles and the International Mountain Biking Association
(IMBA) at a minimum of six mountain bike races during the 2009 season.
"Amateurs are the unsung heroes of mountain bike racing," said
Jenni Cathcart, Director of Marketing for GT Bicycles. "The GT Dirt
Coalition rewards their competitive spirit and commitment to cycling."
Each GT Dirt Coalition member will receive a high-end race machine: GT's
Zaskar Pro hardtail (US$3,499.99) with its signature triple triangle frame
design or the Marathon Pro ($4299.99), GT's lightweight full suspension
bike utilizing its Independent Drivetrain suspension system. Both models
feature a monocoque carbon fiber frame and XT components. Members will
also receive a 10x10 Dirt Coalition tent, two race kits and GT swag. The
total sponsorship package is valued at $4,200-$5000.
Dirt Coalition members will be selected based upon their leadership in
the cycling community, involvement in advocacy, local bike shop affiliations,
proposed 2009 race schedule and past race results. Applications are being
accepted between January 23 and February 5 at http://amgteams.activecm.net/Page66.aspx.
Riders who are under 18, paid to race or hold a professional license are
Memorial established for two young downhillers
After two rising stars of the UK Downhill Race Scene, Tom Rodgers and
Ben Ineson, tragically lost their lives in a car crash on January 14,
a memorial fund was started to honor their memory with the intention of
sponsoring future events and up and coming riders. A Book of Condolences
has also been established to pass messages on to the parents of both racers.
To contribute to one or both, visit www.allterraincycles.co.uk.
Cyclingnews offers it condolences to friends and family members
of Rodgers and Ineson.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2009)