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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

MTB news & racing round-up for February 16, 2006

Edited by Steve Medcroft

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

Last race on home soil for Commonwealth Games MTBers

Chris Jongewaard (L) and Sid Taberlay
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Click for larger image

Australia's Commonwealth Games mountain bike riders will have their final Australian race at Mt Buller this weekend (February 18 and 19) in the fourth and final race in the National Series. Five members of the Australian Cross Country team will line up on Saturday in one of the highest quality cross country fields to grace the slopes. The Commonwealth Games team will use the tough Mt Buller circuit as preparation for the Oceania Championships in Rotorua on March 3 - 5.

After winning on the Commonwealth Games course in December, both Chris Jongewaard (Adelaide) and Claire Baxter (Melbourne) confirmed their spots on the team. The second Games spots were secured by Sid Taberlay (Hobart) and Dellys Franke (Melbourne) after they took out the National Championships at Mt Beauty in January. Emma Colson (Melbourne) and Josh Fleming (Sydney) were the best ranked Australians, and they secured the final third places when selectors named the six rider team on February 3. Athens Olympian, Josh Fleming will be the only team member not in attendance at Mt Buller or the Oceania race, instead preferring to do his training in and around Sydney to prepare for the Commonwealth Games.

After Mt Buller, the other team riders head off to Rotorua to race against their New Zealand opponents and other riders wishing to check out the course which will also be the same for the World Championships in August this year. The team then returns home in time for the Commonwealth Games Cross Country race on Thursday, March 23.

Emma Colson was slightly emotional on hearing the announcement of her Games spot. "It was because it was the culmination of all those years of effort," said Colson after setting her sights on the Games back in October 2004. Leading the elite women's series by 68 points, Colson is looking to securing her second consecutive National Series title. "I'm looking forward to putting a score on the board for the national series." Colson is hoping to turn the tables on the misfortune in her last race at Mt Buller. "Last year at Oceania's (Championships) three of us took a wrong turn, hopefully we won't do that this time," she said.

Elite men's series leader Chris Jongewaard is not expected to lose his commanding 86 point lead, however, Athens Olympian Sid Taberlay has done his maths and wants to take second in the series. "I just want to beat Murray (Spink); he's only four points in front of me at the moment," he said. The experienced Taberlay could be difficult for Spink to outride, however, Taberlay has never ridden the challenging Mt Buller loop before. "I've always been overseas," he stated.

The elite women's race starts at 11.30 am while the elite men's race starts at 11.00 am. Downhill practice continues on Saturday with racing starting at 1pm on Sunday.

Nothin' to do but hit the dirt

Road riders found lurking at MTB race

Three former riders of the Belgium-based Team Cyclingnews.com found themselves on the same parcours last weekend, but this time it was the heat and dust of an eight-hour endurance MTB race in Lithgow, 150km west of Sydney, Australia. Gerard Knapp caught up with the trio to find out why they were there.

No more secret training
Photo ©: Gerard Knapp
(Click for larger image)

Nathan 'Chookman' Russell, Cody Stevenson and Josh Fleming were all racing in the first round of the RaceTech Working Week Series of endurance events held throughout NSW. For Fleming, it's not such a surprise given his credentials as a mountain bike racer - he's part of Australia's MTB squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games - but it was a first-time experience for both Russell and Stevenson. Further, neither of the former team-mates knew they'd be racing in the same event - so much for any secret training.

And how did these experienced roadies find it? Well, harder than they thought it would be, particularly for Russell and Stevenson, who raced in the 'solo' category. But still, Stevenson finished sixth in the hardest men's group, while 'Chookman' came in 10th.

Ironically, the more experienced MTB rider - Fleming - teamed up with Ken McMillan and Julien Redmond to take out first place in the 'mixed three' category. Fleming said he used the event as a kind of interval training; this approach was confirmed by his 'lap' times - he knocked off each technical, 11km circuit in 32 minutes and took a break while his two team-mates rode their laps before returning to ride another 32-minute circuit. By comparison, the fastest lap time of the solo male category winner - Dennis van Mill - was over 35 minutes (see full results).

Click here for the full feature

Giant MTB squad has giant goals for 2006

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Giant recently presented its 2006 MTB squad in Aschau, Germany. The international squad from the Taiwan bicycle colossus is an important part of not only their marketing program, but also a valuable source of research and development for Giant mountain bikes. Giant global sport marketing manager Tom Davies explained, "As we've been doing for more than a decade now, Giant is delighted to continue backing a MTB team of such great quality. This clearly enables us to remain at the cutting edge of MTB technology and racing."

Davies told Cyclingnews that the Giant MTB team will be using both the reliable hardtail and the new dual suspension Anthem racing bikes. "We're really excited about the way the new Anthem combines the same kind of efficiency in power transfer we've worked so hard to get, together with added comfort," declared Davies

Giant MTB Team directeur sportif Sven Zeppel explained the squad's sporting goals in Aschau. "For us, a primary objective is to get a rainbow jersey from a World Championships," he said. "No matter what event it comes in, that's initially our main goal for the Giant MTB team this year."

Looking at team cross-country top dog Bart Brentjens, Zeppel said "Bart is the man of experience of the team, and has won virtually everything there is, so we know we can rely on him."

For his part, 37 year old Sir Bart is positive about the coming season with Giant. "The marathon rainbow jersey is the only one that's missing in my collection and that's the one I want the most in 2006," he said. "But I won't just be limiting myself to the World Championships, because there are plenty of other races, like World Cups, where I want to show the fans what I'm capable of doing."

Giant will also have off-road talent, World Championship podium finisher and World Cup winner Roel Paulissen of Belgium. The 29 year old is a solid rider and Zeppel says, "Roel can benefit from the knowledge that Bart is so experienced at mountain bike racing and at the same time, we see Roel is more open to different goals, with World Cups one key specialty."

British rider Oli Beckinsdale, Austrian Martin Kraler and German Stefan Sahm round out the five-man Giant MTB squad for 2006. Team director Zeppel says, "Martin, Stefan and Oliver will all have their own objectives throughout the season as well, with national champions' jerseys one key 2006 goal. But there will be other goals; I know Oliver is training hard and focusing on the Commonwealth Games MTB event in March."

Next up for the Giant MTB riders is some early season racing in Cyprus with their national teams, then Giant will launch the entire team at the Liquigas Cup in Brescia, Italy on March 18. Giant MTB then head to Curaçao for the first World Cup event of the season on April 1.

Sea Otter Classic brings $28 million to local economy

Adam Craig at Sea Otter '05
Photo ©: Colin Meagher
Click for larger image

According to an economic impact report recently released by the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Sea Otter Classic brings in an estimated revenue of $28.6 million for the local community. "With 69% of the audience coming from outside our local market, it not only brings in new revenue but helps in the marketing exposure of our destination," said Julie Armstrong, a spokesperson for the bureau.

Prepared by Fredric Kropp & Associates to assess the economic impact the 2005 Sea Otter Classic had on the greater Monterey/Salinas area, local businesses saw a large increase in revenue during the period that was directly linked to the Classic itself. Findings of the report include:

-When indirect multiplier effects are included, the total estimated impact on the Monterey/Salinas area is $21.51-$28.68 million, based on multipliers of 1.5 to 2.0.

-The direct estimate of the economic impact of the 2005 Sea Otter Classic on the greater Monterey/Salinas area is approximately $14.34 million. This consists of spectator spending of $10.51 million, athlete spending of $2.87 million, and vendor and sponsor spending of $0.92 million.

-In general, spectators were highly satisfied with the Sea Otter Classic - 89% of the respondents agreed that they would recommend the Sea Otter Classic to a friend; 87% agreed that the overall quality is good; and 82% plan to return within the next three years.

-In general, athletes were highly satisfied with the Sea Otter Classic - 96% of the respondents agreed that they would recommend the Sea Otter Classic to a friend, 91% said that their overall Sea Otter Classic experience was either good or excellent, and 95% plan to return within the next three years.

WORS turns 15

The Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) celebrates it's fifteenth anniversary in 2006. Founded by three individual race directors in 1992 with a mission of expanding and encouraging recreational mountain bike racing in Wisconsin and the surrounding states, WORS quickly grew into America's largest state mountain bike racing series.

in 2006, the series is made up of twelve individually-run events with category scoring in everything from pure beginning racer to professional men and women.

WORS also plans to expand the number of 'Learn to Race' clinics at its events in 2006. These clinics include instruction in bike fit and set-up, basic bike maintenance, technical riding skills, race preparation, and the basics of mountain race strategy. In 2005 WORS began a programme it calls WORS-JDT (Junior Development Team). JDT is a program for young mountain bike riders (10-16 years old) with limited or no racing experience interested in participating in WORS. The individuals selected for this programme receive a racer-loan Gary Fisher bike and entry into WORS races.

For more information, or to register for 2006 WORS races, click here.

Race day weapon; Giant Anthem LE on test

When Giant launched its Maestro range of mountain bikes in late 2004 bikes like the Trance trail bike and Reign freeride rig were well-received, but cross-country racers asked "Where's ours?" The wait is over as Giant's Anthem range arrives in your friendly neighbourhood bike shop. Dave Hughes hits the race track on the top-line Anthem LE to find out if the new machine lives up to the promise of its longer-travel brethren.

Giant Anthem LE
(Click for larger image)

Giant introduced its Anthem short travel cross country bike at last year's Interbike show. It was the logical completion of the Maestro range; a lightweight, short-travel bike for cross-country racers to replace the aging NRS design in Giant's range. At the time we were given a few test rides, but we wanted a longer term test on trails we knew so we could really see how Giant's claims stacked up.

In late December our White Christmas arrived - a shiny new Australian-edition Anthem LE with a gorgeous white paint job, thoroughly decorated with top shelf components including XTR brakes and drivetrain and Mavic Crossmax SLs. The Cyclingnews team thought we'd done a very good job of making Santa think we'd been good, until Giant told us we'd have to give it back after our testing. Darn.

Given that I was racing a short course cross country (aka Dirt Crits) event the next day, I was the lucky reviewer who got to take it home.

Read the entire Giant Anthem LE review here.

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