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MTB news & racing round-up for February 13, 2007

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

Edited by Sue George

Bear Naked Cannondale ready for 2007

Bear Naked/Cannondale's Garth Prosser
Photo ©: Liam Doren
(Click for larger image)

The US-based Bear Naked Cannondale mountain-bike team enters the 2007 season with 44 athletes on the roster. With such a large group racing across many disciplines, the team has many chances to podium. Although the team is not overflowing with big names, it takes pride in focusing on developing talented athletes that might not appear on everyone else's radar for another one to two or as sometimes as many as four years into the future. Team director Matt Jewett said, "The real excitement comes from watching each member of our team grow and progress--finding their places in our sport."

Among the team's top riders is Brandon Draugelis, who had an outstanding year in 2006 and upgraded from Expert to Pro classification for 2007. Draugelis finished third at the 24 Hours of Adrenaline World Solo Championships in Georgia - his first 24 hour solo worlds. While most of that race's coverage focused on the epic battle between Craig Gordon and Chris Eatough, Draugelis put in a solid performance. In fact, Draugelis may follow eventually in the steps of Gordon, who raced for the team when it was sponsored by SoBe.

On the women's side, look out for Nina Baum. She's been knocking at the door of a top-five finish for a few years now, and this could be the year she goes big. Jewett also pointed to talented up-and-comers Jenna Zander (2006 U23 National Champion) and Andy Schultz (2005 U23 National Champion). Both have retooled their training and have "that look in their eyes that can be the difference between a top 10 and a top three finish."

"With the amazing support from Bear Naked, Cannondale, and our other sponsors our team is looking to continue its tradition of giving the support that allows athletes to reach their full potential in cycling," said Jewett. "I can honestly say that the potential of this year's team is the best we've seen in our eleven years of running this program." Given the size of the program, the team roster is never "locked"; another rider or two may be picked up throughout the season.

Over on the gravity side of things, the team boasts two top women who can crack the top five on any given day. Amelia Colasurdo and Wendy Reynolds both have good skills, and over the past two years, have learned that they can get to the top of the podium with a well executed run.

Other well known racers include endurance gurus like Matthew Lee and Sue Butler. Whether each will defend their respective Great Divide Race and Trans-Rockies wins remains to be determined.

Perhaps the most inspirational member of the Bear Naked squad is racer Berny Pizarro. Pizarro was involved in a bad crash last year that resulted in a broken femur. Then complications during surgery caused her to slip into a coma for close to a month. Doctors gave little hope, but Berny's indomitable spirit helped her to recover.

Look for Bear Naked team members at all the NMBS series races as well as many other events around the US. The first NMBS race kicks off in Phoenix, Arizona, in late March, as the season-opener for the elite American off-road scene. Some team members have already gathered in Arizona for a month-long informal training camp, where they are logging early-season base miles.

Unlike some squads, the team does not specify which bikes its riders must race. They may choose from carbon Rushes, Taurines, Scalpels, Judges, Prophets, Perps, and even 29'ers based on their racing preferences and terrain.

Amelia Colasurdo (Pro DH/ Super D)
Andy Schulltz (Pro XC)
Becca Blay (Pro XC)
Ben Storrar (Pro DH)
Bernardita (Berny) Pizarro (Pro DH)
Brandon Draugelis (Pro XC)
Brett Morgan (XC Pro)
Bryna Nestor (Pro XC)
Cassandra "Cass" Perkins (Pro XC)
Chenoah Hendershot (Junior XC)
Chris Anderson (Pro XC)
Cully Todd (Expert XC)
Damian Calvert (Pro XC)
David Wood (Ex XC)
Dezmin Wilder (Expert XC)
Emily Van Meter (Pro XC)
Garth Prosser (Pro XC)
Heath Sherratt (Expert DH)
Jenna Zander (Pro XC)
Jorel Hendershot (Pro XC)
Joshua Misevcis (Pro DH)
Julie Lewis Sroka (Expert)
Justin Rhinehart (Semi Pro XC)
Karen DeWolfe (Pro XC)
Ketura Hendershot (Junior XC)
Kevin Smallman (Expert XC)
Kim Eakin (Semi DH)
Matthew Lee (Expert XC)
Michael Nixon (Expert XC)
Mike Bartos (Expert XC)
Nina Baum (Pro XC)
Noah Holcomb (Pro XC)
Paul Hanson (Pro XC)
Paul Clark (Pro XC)
Rob Lichtenwalner (Semi pro XC)
Shawn Altizer (Semi pro XC)
Shey Lindner (Expert XC)
Stephanie Schlaack (Junior XC)
Sue Butler (Expert XC)
Terry Blanchet (Expert XC)
Theresa Richardson (Pro XC)
Thomas Turner (Pro XC)
Tim Dougherty (Semi Pro XC)
Wendy Reynolds (Pro DH/4X)

National champions power away in New Zealand series round three

Clinton Avery (New Zealand)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Two of New Zealand's recently crowned national champions won the third round of their national series in Rotorua this weekend. Clinton Avery won the elite men's race by over seven minutes, and Anja McDonald rode strongly to finish over two minutes ahead of her nearest competitor.

"It's a fantastic track, one I know quite well, felt quite good out there and didn't have any crashes," said McDonald, riding for Santa Cruz.

Riders were greeted with sunshine and blue skies for the first time this season and took the opportunity to post some fast times. The 7.8km course at the world famous Redwoods, one of the more extensive trial networks in New Zealand, incorporated classic mountain bike trails including some of the very first trials purpose built in New Zealand. Over NZ$50,000 a year is spent annually on maintaining and upgrading the tracks, with the help of the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club.

For a full report and results, click here.

X-Fusion sponsors Turpen and Sawicki

Evan Turpen
Photo ©: X-Fusion
(Click for larger image)

X-Fusion Performance Suspension announced it will sponsor ultra-endurance racer Monique "Pua" Sawicki (Team Ergon/Ellsworth) and downhiller Evan Turpen (Iron Horse) for 2007.

A few weeks ago Sawicki kicked off 2007 on a strong note. She won not only the pro women's event at the 12 Hours of Temecula, but also the overall. She beat the pro men's winner by five minutes, even after helping a crashed rider and a rider whose light had stopped working.

New to the race scene in 2004, Hawaiian Sawicki won the marathon NORBA series that year and in 2005, when she also took the 24 Hour Solo National Championships and finished second in the 24 Hours of Adrenaline Solo World Championships. 2006 started well with a win at Vision Quest and a top 20 at Sea Otter, but a bad crash in June at the Mont Ste. Anne World Cup resulted in a month off the bike. Pua bounced back quickly to finish third at the nationals.

Up and coming Turpen has set his sights on becoming the top American downhill racer. His best season so far was 2006, and despite a three-week layoff due to a knee injury he finished in the top 10 at Crankworx and the National Championships, top 20 in almost every major American event entered, as well as fourth at the US Open. Evan represented the US at world championships in Rotorua, New Zealand, where he was the fifth American, finishing 33rd overall.

"I was fortunate to have worked with Evan previously, and am stoked to do so again," said Alex Wheeler, US Marketing Manager for X-Fusion, "Not only is he an extremely talented rider who will certainly earn podiums and victories, but he also understands suspension and is able to clearly communicate where a product excels and where improvement is needed."

Sawicki will race on X-Fusion O2 PVA and O2 RC rear shocks and the new Velvet PVA fork. Turpen will campaign on the X-Fusion Vector DH2 rear shock with Ti Spring and the Delta 8 Pro downhill fork.

Race Face recruiting for Ultimate XC Challenge

Building on past Ultimate XC Challenge (UXC) contests held in conjunction with the Trans Rockies race in Canada, Race Face announced that the 2007 UXC will head to the Trans Germany and TransAlp races in Europe.

Race Face is recruiting two teams of "riders who have chain lube and fork oil in their blood, the unsung heroes of the singletrack, the guys without contracts who grind it out at their day jobs to ride on the weekends for the pure love of the sport." Riders who believe they are up to the challenge should have a strong race resume, and "a really good story" as to why they should be chosen. The story should come in the form of a 90 second video explaining why they want to take part in one of two epic, multi-day cross country stage races.

Top team submissions will be posted online for voting in May 2007. Winners heading to the Trans Germany will be announced May 18 while winners destined for TransAlp will be announced June 2. Winning teams will be flown to the races with all entry fees paid by Race Face. They will be outfitted with the company's components and clothing and receive free tech support throughout the races.

For more information and to download an application form, visit www.raceface.com/uxc. Applications are due by April 27, 2007.

Race under the sun

Start of Race under the Sun 2006
Photo ©: Mike Hadjioannou
(Click for larger image)

Cyprus will host a UCI Category 1 cross country event "Race Under the Sun - Cypress 2007" on March 11. The event is organized in the area of Yermasogia near the town of Limassol. In April 2005, Yermasogia hosted the first-ever mountain bike marathon World Cup.

Following on the success of that event, the Cyprus Cycling Federation decided to organize the Race Under the Sun, which is expected to draw elite mountain bikers looking for a sunny place to undertake early season preparations and test their racing legs.

The race will take place in the surrounding hills of Yermasogia Village, on a 6.1km long course specially designed for the event. The course climbs 245 meters every lap and features steep uphills and downhills. A concert and pasta dinner for all participants will follow the award ceremony.

USA Cycling announces rule changes

USA Cycling announced a collection of rule changes for mountain biking. The changes were voted upon and passed by the Board of Trustees. Many of the rule changes explain and expand how men can upgrade from expert to semi-pro and semi-pro to pro and how women can upgrade from expert to pro.

On the junior side, those under 14 and under will now race in age categories rather than ability categories. If the young racers chose to race with older juniors or seniors, they must stick to the beginner or sport categories.

Finally, the rules change some age and gender-based categories for national championships, clarify that riders warming up on the course cannot interfere with ongoing races, and address the issue of when riders are lapped and should yield to passing riders. For complete details on rule changes, see www.usacycling.org.

Cape Epic Diary by Myriam Saugy: Winter motivation

Winter preparation
Photo ©: Myriam Saugy
Click for larger image

Switzerland in winter: for the ones who like to play in the snow that's one of the place to be!

Switzerland winter 2006-07 is still a paradise, but for skiers, not for bikers! Can you believe that on January 10th, I was riding my race bike for over three hours until my feet got cold and numb. The outside temperature was 15°C. This had never happened to me before in January. Usually I fight against the cold and last two hours max unless I am on my cross country skis.

This winter is different and not only because the snow doesn't want to show up. I got a quite serious injury last summer, which kept me away from my bikes for over two months; secondly I am training for the Cape Epic which be held in South Africa at the end of March. Therefore, I not only feel the need to ride, but I have top motivation. I have to ride in order to be ready for that week-long event.

My preparation has been quite good so far. To read the complete diary entry, click here.

Slovenia picks national team

The Slovenian national mountain bike team announced its roster and sponsorship for 2007. The team will receive continued sponsorship support from national Merida dealer Trgoavto. With the exception of stolen bikes in Italy, the team reported a successful year logging several national championships, one European championship, and a world cross country title. The team looks forward to the final round of the World Cup, which will be held in Maribor, Slovenia.

Roster - Cross Country
Tanja Zakelj (U23 Women)
Nina Homovec (U23 Women)
Blaz Znidarsic (Junior Men)
Luka Mezgec (U23 Men)
Luka Homovec (U23 Men)
Luka Kodra (U23 Men)
Nejc Rutar (Junior men)

Kasprick re-signs with Iron Horse

Iron Horse Bicycles and Monster Energy re-signed Ryder Kasprick for 2007. He will race slopestyles, dirt jump competitions, and jams throughout North America and Europe. His season will kick off at Ray's Three-ride Indoor Invitation.

"I'm super stoked to be back on Iron Horse for 2007 and I'm looking forward to rockin' the M-claw logo for Monster Energy," said Kasprick.

Iron Horse also sponsors downhill racers Sam Hill and Sabrina Jonnier, both reigning downhill world champions.

Topeak-Ergon signs two Americans

Jeff Kerkove
Photo ©: Team Topeak-Ergon
(Click for larger image)

By signing two new American endurance riders, Topeak-Ergon has set its sights on the American mountain bike market.

29-year-old Jeff Kerkove and 35-year-old Sloane Anderson have proven themselves in the solo categories at 12 and 24-hour races in the US. Kerkove's list of successes includes several podiums and top tens, plus four wins in both disciplines. Anderson also has two wins and three podiums to his name.

Sloane Anderson
Photo ©: Team Topeak-Ergon
(Click for larger image)

The two riders will debut in Europe as part of the team's 24-hour squad. They will also tackle the Transalp Challenge.

"Racing in Europe is a new challenge for us. It is particularly motivating," said Anderson, who will train with Kerkove and the rest of the team on Majorca in mid-February. Including the two Americans, there are nine total riders signed to the Topeak-Ergon team for 2007.

Trail Care Crew sets spring schedule

IMBA announced the spring 2007 schedule for its Trail Care Crew. The program's sponsorship was recently renewed by Subaru through 2009.

"Subaru is pleased to extend its decade-long partnership with IMBA," said Tim Mahoney, senior vice president and CMO, Subaru of America, Inc. on IMBA's website. "We are extremely proud of what this innovative program has accomplished and look forward to supporting this educational and worthwhile program going forward."

Now entering its eleventh year, the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew program includes two full-time, professional teams of trail experts who travel North America in specially outfitted Subaru vehicles. The Crews lead IMBA Trailbuilding Schools, meet with government officials and land managers, and work with IMBA-affiliated groups to improve mountain biking opportunities.

2007 Spring/Summer Schedule
February 1-4: Gallup, NM
February 8-11: Las Cruces, NM
February 15-18: Tucson, AZ
February 22-25: Houston, TX
March 1-4: Tucson, AZ
March 8-11: Grenada, MS
March 8-11: Prescott, AZ
March 15-18: La Grange, GA
March 15-18: Orange County, CA
March 22-25: Ocala, FL
March 22-25: San Fernando, CA
March 29-April 1: Gainesville, GA
March 29-April 1: Fremont, CA
April 12-15: Chattanooga, TN
April 12-15: Redding, CA
April 19-22: Nashville, TN
April 19-22: Price, UT
April 26-29: Louisville, KY
April 26-29: Durango, CO
May 3-6: Peoria, IL
May 3-6 Jefferson City, MO
May 10-13: Eau Claire, WI
May 10-13: Comlara, IL
May 17-20: Hazelhurst, WI
May 17-20: Ohiopyle, PA
May 24-27: Rapid City, SD
May 24-27: Harrisonburg, VA
May 31-June 3: Tsali, NC
June 7-10: Butte, MT
June 14-17: Cedar City, UT
June 14-17: State College, PA
June 21-24: Show Low, AZ
June 20-24: Hopewell Furnace, PA
June 27-July 1: Crested Butte, CO
June 28-July 1: South Mountain, NJ
July 11-15: Lanesboro, MA
July 20-22: Killington, VT
July 26-29: Killington, VT

IMBA hiring development director

IMBA is looking for a Development Director to be based at the national office in Boulder, Colorado. The director will be responsible for executing fundraising plans and leading the development team to secure contributed income from individuals, foundations, and corporations. The Development Director will report to the Executive Director and will work closely with board members and local affiliates as a member of IMBA's management team. The successful candidate will have at least six years of fundraising experience, with proven success in the areas of corporate development, sponsorship and major gift campaigns.

For a complete description of responsibilities and qualifications, see www.imba.com. Qualified candidates should send a cover letter with salary expectations and a resume to Mike Van Abel, Executive Director, IMBA, P.O. Box 7578, Boulder, Colorado, 80306 or mike@imba.com. The deadline for application is February 16.

Dirt Works 100km increases field size

Based in St. Albans in the Hawkesbury Valley, the Dirt Works 100km endurance race is scheduled for May 6. Its course follows the historic Great North Road through the Dharug and Yengo National Parks, located two hours northwest of Sydney. The 100km course has 32% singletrack, 44% fire trail, 16% dirt road, and 8% tarmac, although one infamous hike-a-bike has been replaced with a more ride-able climb up Webbs creek hill. A shorter 50km course is also an option.

The event was so popular in 2006 that organizers compiled a waiting list of over 100 riders after race entries sold out one month before race day. To accommodate increased demand, the field size has been increased 25% for 2007 to 1000 participants. However, 30% of the race entries were already sold within one week of registration opening for 2007.

The race weekend's events also include live music, an expo, test riding, and camping. For more info, visit www.maxadventure.com.au.

WVMBA series set for 2007

The West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA) announced its point series for 2007. The winners will be determined based on results from their best six races and the championship race. A new Pay Dirt Trail Maintenance program has been added to reward racers who also participate in trail maintenance. For more information, see http://www.wvmba.com.

Cross-Country Series
#1 Sunday, April 15: Challenge at Mountwood (OMBC #2)
#2 Sunday, April 22: Big Bear Lake Mountain Bike Classic
#3 Sunday, May 6: Henry Clay 30K
#4 Sunday, May 20: Tour de Lake
#5 Sunday, May 27: Race the Trace
#6 Sunday, June 17: Appalachian Classic
#7 Sunday, July 1: Blackwater Bikes State Championships
#8 Sunday, July 22: White Oak Challenge
#9 Sunday, July 29: Little Beaver Chainring Challenge
#10 Sunday, August 5: Race to the Hills (OMBC #7)
#11 Sunday, August 12: Black Bear
#12 Sunday, August 26: ACE New River Bike Fest
#13 Sunday, September 9: The Dirt Derby/XC Series Championship

2007 West Virginia/Virginia Ultra Series
#1 Sunday, June 3: Massanutten HooHa XXC
#2 Saturday, August 18: Wild 100
#3 Sunday, September 2: Shenandoah Mountain 100
#4 Saturday, September 15: Cheat Mountain 100
#5 Saturday, September 22: Big Bear Lake MTB Ultra
#6 Saturday, September 29: Revenge of the Rattlesnake/Ultra Series Championship

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