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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

MTB news & racing round-up for February 8, 2006

Edited by Steve Medcroft

Welcome to our regular roundup of what's happening in MTB and Cyclo-cross. Feel free to send feedback, news and gossip to mtb@cyclingnews.com

Sawicki gets her MTB season started

By Steve Medcroft

Endurance phenom Monique Sawicki is getting an aggressive start to her 2006 season - she's already won her first race of the year. At the 12 Hours of Temecula in Vail Lake, California, Sawicki won in 11 laps; 24 minutes ahead of 2005 La Ruta de los Conquistadores winner Louise Kobin. On the way to the win, Sawicki posted a 49 minute opening lap that stood as one of the fastest laps of the day of any competitor.

Later this month, the two-time NORBA Marathon National Series winner and 2005 U.S. 24 Hours Solo National Champion will be giving a clinic at the site of the Vision Quest MTB race (in Lake Forest, California). Sawicki will be talking to racers about nutrition, training and the equipment required to make the most out of endurance mountain biking. After the clinic, Ellsworth will be on hand with their travelling demo trailer to offer free demo rides to the clinics attendees.

The 56.5-mile, 11,000 feet of climbing Vision Quest is scheduled for Saturday March 4th.

2008 MTB Marathon World Championships in Tyrol

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has appointed Villabassa/Alta Pusteria in South Tyrol, Italy, as the venue for the 2008 Marathon World Championships. During the Cyclo-cross World Championships in Zeddam, Netherlands, in January, the organizing committee of the World Cup event "Südtirol Dolomiti Superbike" was chosen from the other candidates like Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy, Kirchzarten, Germany, and Madrid, Spain.

The course and the landscape of the Dolomites mountains of the Dolomiti Superbike attracts the largest number of competitors in Italy, with around 3,000 participants each year. This year's race, which features a new course measured by GPS, will be held on July 9, 2006.

More information can be found at www.dolomitisuperbike.com.

Gran Canaria Open on its way

While Northern Europe shivers with temperatures below zero, Europe's mountain bikers are planning to warmer regions: to Gran Canaria for instance, where the preparations for the Gran Canaria Open, the island's second mountain bike marathon on March 18, are up to speed.

Race organiser Petra Wonisch says she already has five times as many entries as this time last year and is thrilled about the positive response from around the world. "Norwegian and Swedish pro teams have entered the race as well as riders from Belgium, France, the UK and even the United States," Wonisch said. "That people are travelling so far to participate in our event makes us proud. But we also have a lot of mountain bikers from Bavaria and Austria who want to capitalise on the early opener of their local marathon series."

Courses for the event are reportedly tough but doable. Trek rider Katrin Schwing says she likes the route because it's "technically very demanding," while course designer and MTB guide Philipp Foltz (Atlantic Cycling) describes the 38km short course as "easy to accomplish."

The long course will be harder though. "Those who take the turn for the big round will face a 15 minute hike a bike section before they get to a tough uphill," says Foltz. "The technical single trail eventually passes into a gravel road which leads to the highest point at 1300 metres. The descent is a great mix of challenging trails, tar sections, gravel roads and sharp counter slopes on which the race will most likely be decided. To win the Gran Canaria Open you have to be a complete rider who has enough reserves to master the many counter slopes in the end."

For more information see www.canary-bike.com.

Australian Commonwealth Games team named

By David Olle in Melbourne

By the banks of the Yarra river and a bend in the Commonwealth Games Road course, the 33-strong Australian Cycling Team to contest the 2006 Commonwealth Games was officially announced last Friday afternoon. Four athletes were present to share in the limelight of the presentation: Alexis Rhodes, Katherine Bates, Chris Jongewaard and Ben Kersten.

Chris Jongewaard, who won the first of two auto-selection races for the MTB team, was clearly pleased with the black and white selection policy, after being nominated for Athens in 2004, before being stood down after a challenge was upheld. Sid Taberlay won the second auto-selection race with 2004 Olympian Josh Fleming making up the three man squad. The three women selected for MTB are all fresh to the role, with Dellys Starr (nee Franke), Emma Colson and Claire Baxter all having their first Games outing.

Mountain Biking Team roster

Women
Claire Baxter (24, Vic)
Emma Colson (37, Vic)
Dellys Starr (26, Vic)

Men
Josh Fleming (30, NSW)
Chris Jongewaard (26, SA)
Sid Taberlay (26, Tas)

On test: Rotor RSX4 MTB (Go-faster rings)

The intricacies of Rotor's crank mechanism are initially daunting, but in the field and on the trail, it really does seem to deliver on the claims, as James Huang finds.

The Rotor RSX4 MTB
(Click for larger image)

In a world of superlight carbon fibre cranks, a Rotor crankset sticks out like a sore thumb with its somewhat awkward-looking assortment of additional hardware and appendages. Rotor has replaced their old configuration with the new RSX4, which consists of a semi-integrated two-piece crank and bottom bracket arrangement with a splined spindle. The new setup, however, still does not use the dual-outboard bearing construction that people have now gotten used to and the new splined spindle isn't much larger in diameter than the old square tapered one. At 1310g (2.89 lbs), our RSX4 MTB steel test crankset is also not only over a full pound heavier than a current-generation XTR crankset, but with a suggested retail price of US$729, it's also nearly US$270 more expensive. Oh, right, plus it's kind of funny looking. So… tell me again why someone should buy these?

The concept

Well, clearly Rotor would have gone under years ago if there were no performance benefits to this thing and Rotor makes some rather heady claims, such as a 16% increase in power output, a 15% reduction in lactic acid production, and a 5% reduction in heart rate as compared to a standard crankset. These benefits are allegedly the result of their unique system which constantly varies the angle of the crankarms relative to each other to eliminate the dead spot from your pedal stroke.

Read James Huang's entire review of the Rotor MTB Crank here.

New in MTB Tech News

Several interesting news items popped up over in the Cyclingnews Tech News section this week.

Bike manufacturer Orbea, best known as the equipment sponsor of the Euskaltel-Euskadi team, has just announced what to the best of our knowledge is a unique machine: a monocoque carbon fibre mountain bike with "29in" (700C) wheels. Orbea claims the Alma 29 frame will weigh just 1300g (2.9lb) thanks to its one-piece front triangle and high modulus carbon fibre. The bike is supposed Shimano XT and XTR or SRAM XO equipment, starting from US3,000 and is to be unveiled at at Sea Otter, April 6-9.

Suspension bike maker Slingshot has announced what it says is a long-awaited new model: an aluminium mountain bike frame featuring its novel SPT (Sling Power Technology) suspension design. The system uses a composite flex board, stainless cable down tube and spring to provide a low-weight suspension design. The Ripper features a flex board that can be repaired in the field. Shaped like a "dogbone" the board is easily installed without the use of glue (as on older models) allowing the owner to service the bike if board replacement is required.

Finally, Van Dessel announced a sponsorship deal with NORBA Series winner Geoff Kabush will ride their bikes for his the road 2006. Kabush will ride a Van Dessel Kermis.

Read the full news entries over at the Tech News section.

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