MTB news & racing round-up for March 26, 2009
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Edited by Greg Johnson
Sauser, Stander dealt Epic blow
Christoph Sauser after the race
Photo ©: Sportzpics
Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander (Songo.info) have been dealt another
blow at South
Africa's Cape Epic. The pair had a commanding lead on the event until
Stander damaged his bike on stage four, which has led to a 15 minute penalty
After hitting a tree and breaking his rim on the event's most recent
stage, Stander was offered a bike by fellow South African Max Knox. Knox
and teammate Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome) were significantly down on general
classification, so gladly helped Stander by first offering a wheel then
his entire bike when the wheel didn't match Stander's setup.
As a result of the incident, International Cycling Union officials have
penalized both teams. While Sauser and Stander had already lost their
overall lead, the penalty drops them further down the general classification.
"The UCI commissaires decided this evening to give the Songo.info team
of Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander a time penalty of 15 minutes as
they benefitted from the outside assistance given to Max Knox and Brandon
Stewart (DCM Chrome)," read a release from the organisers. "The DCM Chrome
team received a time penalty of 1 hour as they were assisted by day trippers
on the route."
Stander, who has been in the lead since the start of the race with teammate
Sauser, was very upset after the day's stage. "I hit a tree, my wheel
went sideways and the rim broke," he said. "Max Knox wanted to give me
his front wheel, but our forks didn't match. That's why we exchanged bikes.
Perhaps I've risked a bit too much. However, I'm still feeling great although
we were pushing very hard to catch up."
Stewart was simply happy they could help the former race leaders. "It's
pretty cool to be able to help someone," he said. "Yesterday we could
help David George with a cartridge. Burry and Christoph have been racing
so well, they deserve to win. That's why we wanted to help when they were
"We were not competing for top honours and now we're just here to enjoy
it," he added. "We would really help anybody if we can and hopefully that
will pay off one day when we're in need."
Sauser and Stander had dominated the race up until the incident. The
duo claimed the opening prologue then went on to win the following three
Bulls pop into Epic lead
Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt celebrate
Photo ©: Sportzpics
Team Bulls' Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm have claimed the Cape Epic race
lead after Christoph Sauser and Burry Stander (Songo.info) dropped significant
amounts of time on stage
four. The Bulls riders had earlier declared they were riding for second
place, following Sauser and Stander's four consecutive stage wins.
Platt and Sahm's ride wasn't without trouble, however, as Sahm was forced
to take up the role of Platt's physiotherapist in the stage's closing
two kilometres. Platt's shoulder popped out for the second time during
this year's event, with Sahm reducing the dislocation before riding to
the finish together.
"I actually can't show my joy so much right now," said Platt after the
stage. "My shoulder hurts a lot and I'm already thinking about tomorrow.
When I dislocated my shoulder, I first couldn't pop it back in. Then Stefan
helped me - he had secretly asked our physio what to do in such a situation.
Sahm jokingly said that he is now also Platt's physiotherapist, after
seeking advice on what to do after it popped out on the opening prologue.
"He said Karl must relax so that I can reduce the shoulder in again,"
said Sahm. "I'll always do whatever's necessary. We ride together, we'll
The race continue today with the 111 kilometre stage from Greyton - Oak
Valley. If the duo can hold their lead through to Saturday's final stage,
it will be the second time they've won the race together.
Olympic champion to race Pietermaritzburg MTB World Cup
Julien Absalon celebrates his 2008 Olympic win.
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
Frenchman Julien Absalon, currently the biggest name in cross-country mountain bike racing, has confirmed his participation in the opening round of the 2009 UCI World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Absalon joins the current men's cross country world champion, Christoph Sauser, of Switzerland, and the women's cross country world champion, Margarita Fullana, of Spain, on the start list in what will be the most prestigious international cycling event ever held in South Africa.
Absalon has been the dominant cross-country racer at major events over the past few years, having claimed 17 World Cup victories, four consecutive world titles (2004-2007) and the gold medals at both the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games. He has also been the overall winner of the World Cup Series four times in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
The 28-year-old Frenchman, who races for the Orbea international team, has stated that his goals for 2009 are to win a fifth overall World Cup title and a fifth world championship. He is already the record holder for number of victories in both competitions.
The World Cup, which incorporates the cross country, downhill and 4X
disciplines, will take place in Pietermaritzburg from April 10-12.
UCI closes team registration, numbers down slightly
Despite the global financial crisis the International Cycling Union (UCI)
has announced mountain bike team registrations are only down marginally
on last year's figures. Some 90 squads from America, Europe and Oceania
have registered for 2009, down by six on last year's figures.
One breakthrough comes from Ireland having registered a UCI Mountain
Bike Team for the first time, while Australia makes a comeback this year
with two new teams. In all some 18 nations are represented by the 90 squads.
"The Olympic cross-country teams once again make up an important part
of the overall number of UCI Mountain Bike teams: 57 percent compared
with 36 percent for the downhill and 4X teams," read a UCI release. "The
remaining seven percent are mixed teams in which Olympic cross-country
specialists rub shoulders with downhill-4X riders."
While this year's figures are marginally down on last year, the sport
has maintained its phenomenal growth from the past decade. The number
of registered squads is three times higher than those which registered
in 2000, the first year of UCI Mountain Bike Teams.
See the full
list of registered squads at the UCI's website.
Plaxton joins Sho-Air/Specialized
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
The Sho-Air/Specialized cross-country team has signed 2006 Under 23 World
Championship bronze medalist Max Plaxton for 2009. Plaxton joins the squad
which includes five time Australian national champion and Athens Olympian
Sid Taberlay and former Under 23 United States National Champion Sammy
"The guys at Sho-Air have been unbelievable," said Plaxton. "2008 was
a hard year in terms of getting the door slammed in my face by the industry.
I really considered going back to school and hanging my cleats up until
Scott Tedro threw me a life line.
"From what I have seen, this team is like family and I look forward to
racing and hanging with a great group of people," he added.
Plaxton will ride a select schedule with the team for 2009, including
the U.S. Cup series and two Canadian World Cup rounds before an increased
program for 2010.
"I had a long conversation with Max, and I liked the feedback I got from
Sid and Sam," said team owner Scott Tedro. "He's a phenomenal talent and
has a lot of potential, so were excited to have him onboard."
Former 4X rider Llanes aiming for Ironman success
By James Costley-White, BikeRadar.com
Photo ©: Sue George
Tara Llanes has set her sights on winning a gruelling Ironman challenge
despite the spinal injuries that ended her successful mountain bike racing
career. The former United States of America 4X champion, who now has to
use a wheelchair, announced the news on her MySpace page.
"One word. Ironman... I am finally saying it out loud," she wrote. "I
am going to try and qualify for the Ironman."
She goes on to say that she not only wants to take part, but wants to
win the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. "I met up with my
friend Ricky James months ago and his dad told me that no female in a
chair has ever completed the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii, let along won it,
so that pretty much made the decision for me," she said. "I want to not
only finish the damn thing, I want to win it!
"I am very much at a time in my life that I need a goal and I figure
this is a good one. Now there is A LOT of training and preparation involved,
and I have been talking to David Bailey a bunch and will be riding with
him as well in order to get ready for this. David was hurt 22 years ago
and had competed in the Ironman three times. He knows what it takes and
knows where I need to be and by when."
Llanes, a Giant for Women Ride Society Leader, also reveals that she
has been invited by the US Paraplegic Team to train at the Paralympic
Training Camp at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California.
"I was never invited [to the Olympic Training Center] when I raced mountain
bikes, but I am now! Weird how things work, huh?!," she wrote. "Anyway,
Aaron [Baker] and I will be able to put in some good training miles while
we're there and learn a few things, hopefully."
Llanes suffered a spinal cord injury at the Jeep King of the Mountain
race in Beaver Creek, Colorado, in September 2007. She was racing against
Jill Kintner in the semi-final when she crashed, breaking her seventh
She required seven hours of surgery in Denver Health Hospital to stabilise
her, and has undergone further surgery since then.
During her mountain biking and BMX careers she won two US national championships,
four World Championship medals and four ESPN X-Games medals.
First US PRO XCT – Kabush undefeated in Fontana
By Dave McElwaine in Fontana, California, USA
Riders will have quite a view to
enjoy while racing
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
The second stop on the Kenda Cup West Series, part of the U.S. Cup presented
by Specialized, will take place at a familiar venue this weekend in Fontana,
California. It will also be the scene of the first Pro XCT racing ever.
For most of the pro racers, this will be their fourth time racing at Fontana
as it was the site of previous NMBS races. In addition to cross country,
the weekend will include Super D, Downhill, and 4X racing for both amateurs
For much of this past winter, it appeared that there may not be a national
pro series in 2009. Thanks to the efforts of Sho Air's Scott Tedro and
USA Cycling, the Pro XCT series was born. The series consists of six races
that piggyback onto selected US Cup venues, plus a series finale in Las
Vegas to take place at the conclusion of Interbike.
Attendance at the Fontana venue has grown every year, particularly in
2008 when the number of spectators seemed to explode. This year is expected
to be even busier as the Fontana City race has been included in the Kenda
Cup West series.
For three consecutive years, Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis) has dominated
the men's race. In 2007 he admittedly did not have the best legs in the
race but the challengers kept letting him back on the train. Typically
he has won on the final climb, just before some downhill singletrack where
passing is nearly impossible. U.S. Champion Adam Craig (Giant), Ryan Trebon
(Kona), Jeremy Horgan Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Subaru), Olympian Todd Wells
(Specialized), Barry Wicks (Kona), Carl Decker (Giant), and Jeremiah Bishop
(Cannondale/Monavie) typically can be counted on to battle for the podium
However, there are also a crop of young riders who are determined to
knock off some of the favorites. Last year, both Sam Jurecovic and Max
Plaxton made the podium. This season, along with wily veteran Sid Taberlay
and endurance specialist Manny Prado, they are team-mates on the newly
beefed up Sho-Air Team. As a foursome, they can be expected to do some
major damage. Sam Schultz (Gary Fisher/Subaru) who took second place last
weekend at the Pan Am Continental Championships certainly will be a threat.
Andy Schultz (Kenda/Tomac), and Kris Sneddon (Kona) can be added to the
young riders who will be vying for top finishes.
full preview for this weekend's event.
Iron Horse sale negotiations still underway
By James Costley-White, BikeRadar.com
United Kingdom Iron Horse importers Jim Walker say negotiations are still
underway for the sale of the brand after its parent company became a victim
of the recession in America. In a statement, the firm said the problems
in the US would have little impact on Iron Horse's UK range, as this year's
bikes have already been delivered.
They said UK distribution was continuing with back-up stock, and any
service issues should be directed to Jim Walker as usual. Jim Walker said
that, despite the difficulties with Iron Horse, they had enjoyed record
levels of trading in the first quarter of 2009.
"Its a shame when the owners of such a strong, desirable
brand as Iron Horse fall victim of the recession in America," said
company CEO Ian Wilson. "Particularly when it's so different to our
experience here in the UK, where our results are not only at record levels,
parts of our business have doubled in the first part of this year and
we have some incredible new opportunities.
"Naturally any change of ownership of a brand takes time to sort
out so, unfortunately we all have to be a little patient at the moment
to see where it ends up. But from what we have been told, we are confident
of a strong ownership for the brand in the future."
Walker said they had agreed new distribution arrangements for a number
of very desirable brands, details of which will be announced soon. Last
week, reports suggested three Asian factories had filed an involuntary
petition for bankruptcy against Iron Horse in an effort to recoup more
than $5 million in back debt.
Olympian takes Oceania cross country title
Daniel McConnell on his way to
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
Beijing Olympian Dan McConnell dominated the Oceania
Mountain Bike Championships in Thredbo at the weekend. McConnell took
over the lead in the third of seven laps Tasmania's Rowena Fry won the
Under 23 national champion Lachlan Norris was the early leader until
McConnell made his move. "I didn't want anyone getting too far away. It's
always hard to peg someone back when they're in the front so I tried to
keep it a minimum gap.'
The seven laps took their toll as many riders were lapped in the final
stages. McConnell also admitted that he found the going tough. "It was
long, I won't say it wasn't. The last few laps were tough. I was glad
it was bell lap," he admitted.
McConnell was emotional after the race as his thoughts turned to his
grandmother who had sadly passed away earlier in the week. "That race
was for her," he said. "She was very supportive of what I did."
Norris finished in second place and convincingly wins the Under 23 Oceania
title. Canberra representatives, Dylan Cooper and Ben Henderson were second
and third respectively in elite men.
full coverage of the Oceania championships.
BMXer claims Oceania men's downhill win
Another BMXer beaten to women's title
BMX Olympian Jared Graves showed another side to his bike skills by winning
the Downhill Oceania Mountain Bike Championships in Thredbo. The 26-year-old
Queenslander held off New Zealand's hot favourite Wyn Masters to take
Having swapped his BMX bike for his Yeti prototype Graves admits the
transition was not easy. "The cross over back isn't that hard as I've
been riding downhill for ten years. It's a different kind of fitness though
and that definitely is an issue," said Graves.
Australian downhill champion Claire Whiteman claimed the women's Oceania
title in a close race beating fellow Canberra rider Caroline Buchanan.
Just four seconds separated the pair but Whiteman hopes the win will help
her get to the World Championships later this year.
"It's been the best year yet," said an excited Whiteman. "It was tough.
Generally I don't do well in the wet. This time down I decided to relax
from the top."
Third place went to New Zealand's national silver medallist, Amy Laird.
full coverage of the Oceania championships.
Meet Vouilloz at Glentress Demo Day
Nicolas Vouilloz, 10-time world downhill champion and winner of 16 World
Cup races, is heading to Scotland for BikeRadar.com's Glentress Demo Day
on Sunday 5 April. The Mountain Biking UK crew will be there too,
joining riders on the demo loop, answering questions and meeting their
adoring fans (ahem).
After retiring from mountain biking competition in 2003, Vouilloz started
car rallying. He went on to win last year's Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
At the start of 2008 he joined suspension guru Olivier Bossard at Bos
Engineering to help develop and test the company's new fork and shock
Vouilloz has also been working closely with Lapierre on the design of
their new bikes - a range which has proved popular at previous Demo Days.
At Glentress, he will help set the bikes up on the Lapierre stand and
will be available for autographs.
Head over to the Demo
Day website now to book your demo rides from Trek, KHS, Cotic, Scott,
Gary Fisher, Norco, Raleigh, Santa Cruz, Niner, Lapierre, Diamond Back,
Pronghorn, Yeti, Ibis, Pace and Bionicon.
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