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MTB news & racing round-up for June 9, 2007

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

Edited by Sue George

Champéry hosting double World Cup

By Rob Jones in Champéry, Switzerland

Marga Fullana (Spiuk-Tau Ceramica)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

For the first time this year, all three disciplines of mountain biking are happening together this weekend at a World Cup. Held on the outskirts of the small town of Champéry, nestled among the Alps along the French border in the southwest corner of Switzerland, the circuits have been drawing praise from cross-country, downhill and 4-cross racers alike.

Saturday morning, Margarita Fullana (Spiuk-Tau Ceramica) took over the lead on the first lap during the third cross country World Cup on a technically challenging course. She held the lead throughout the race to win by a margin of 19 seconds over second World Cup winner Irina Kalentyeva (Topeak-Ergon). Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain / Haywood) rounded out the top three. Besides taking the win for the day, Fullana also assumed the overall World Cup lead after three rounds.

The men are slated to race the 5.7km figure-eight shaped course this afternoon. Julien Absalon (Orbea) described the course as "real mountain biking." The World Cup leader and World Champion is among the favorites for the win. He'll be challenged by round one winner Jose Hermida (Multivan Merida), Christoph Sauser (Specialized), who'll be looking for a win on home soil, and Jean-Christophe Peraud (Orbea) and Kashi Leuchs (Vredestein-Cannondale), both of whom have had consistent seasons so far.

World champion Julien Absalon (Orbea)
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller
(Click for larger image)

12 women and 74 men will tackle the 4X. Favorites include Anneke Beerten (Bikepark.ch) and Jill Kintner (GT) for the women and Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal), Michal Prokop, Cedric Gracia (Commencal), Mickael Deldycke, Greg Minnaar (G-Cross Honda) and Brian Lopes (GT) for the men.

The downhill course features an average grade of 37% over a 581m vertical drop. It's steep and rocky, with many turns, and times are expected to be long -- over five minutes. Rainy conditions have made the course slippery, technical, and challenging, and riders will have to change their setup for tire choice, brakes, and suspension. One potential problem is that the middle section of the course is so steep that every crash and injury which requires evacuation will need a helicopter - forcing lengthy course closures.

For the 32 women, it is expected to be a race between Sabrina Jonnier (Ironhorse-Monster Energy) and Tracy Moseley (Kona). On the men's side (186 for the semi-final), Marc Beaumont (MBUK Santa Cruz) will try to repeat from Vigo, but Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate), Greg Minnaar (G-Cross Honda), Sam Hill (Ironhorse-Monster Energy), Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal), and Mick Hannah (Cannondale - The Cut) should also do well.

Four cross finals are scheduled for Saturday evening, and downhillers get their turn on Sunday with qualifying in the morning and finals in the afternoon.

For complete coverage of the World Cup, click here.

Prokop wins races in two disciplines in one weekend

Michal Prokop
Photo ©: Petr Bures
(Click for larger image)

Two days, two races, two disciplines, and two victories is how Michal Prokop could describe his weekend of podium appearances. The Author factory rider took two Czech National Series in different disciplines this past weekend.

On Saturday Prokop was racing round #3 of Czech BMX Championships in Brno. Technical problems with the gate, a strong rain-shower, event schedule delay could not stop him on his way to success.

Although the delayed finals in Brno caused him to miss Saturday's training session in the first round of the Ruhrbau 4X cup in Prerov, 100km north of Brno, he still made it on time for the pre-event promotional party.

Rain all Saturday night and Sunday morning before the event made for different conditions than the hardpack usually found in BMX. Nonetheless, Prokop qualified second in the four cross event. He then went on to finish first in all the rounds and the final to take his second win of the weekend.

Prokop is slated to race the UCI World Cup in Champéry, Switzerland, on Saturday.

Little Bellas draws young girls to mountain biking

Lea Davidson
Photo ©: Steve Medcroft
(Click for larger image)

Pro racer Lea Davison and her sister Sabra have plenty to do when not racing their bikes. The pair teamed up with Angela Irvine to start Little Bellas, a summer program to draw young Vermont girls to mountain biking.

The Burlington Free Press reported on the program, which started after Lea and her fellow competitors noted a lack of young girls participating in races.

To program caters to girls between the ages of eight and 12, bringing them to mountain biking and focusing on promoting active lifestyles to build self-confidence in the girls. 14 girls are enrolled in the program. The group has met three times so far for 90 minutes per session.

"We still have room for more," Lea said. "We'd hate to turn anybody away."

The Little Bellas will undertake two major events this summer. They will work a lemonade social at the USA Cycling nationals in Vermont in July as well as participate in the Ride Across Vermont in August.

The key to the program is mentors who participate and ride with the girls.

"It's all pretty exciting," Sabra said to the Burlington Free Press. "We've developed a female camaraderie on bikes that is pretty much nonexistent in such an individual sport. We're creating a team atmosphere that's pretty exciting. You get to ride with people that are great role models. It pushes certain girls outside their comfort zones and gives them a certain sense of female empowerment."

Landis brings attention to Teva Games

Landis negotiates some singletrack
Photo ©: Beth Schneider
(Click for larger image)

Only two weeks after his doping arbitration hearing at Pepperdine University in California, Floyd Landis returned to competition. Although he awaits a verdict in his hearing and on whether he gets to keep his 2006 Tour de France title, Landis was able to compete at the Teva Mountain Games in Colorado because it was not a UCI sanctioned event.

Landis' first event was the mountain bike race on Saturday, in which he participated to raise money for charity. Despite being an accomplished mountain biker before his road career, Landis finished 49th. He was caught and passed by women's winner Shonny Vanlandingham. According to the Associated Press, Landis said the race wasn't about results, but was about getting away from the stress of fighting doping allegations and remember how fun racing can be.

Ned Overend (Specialized)
Photo ©: Beth Schneider
(Click for larger image)

"I haven't suffered in a while," he said according to the Associated Press afterward. It was his first mountain bike race finish in nearly nine years. "I figured this was a good place to start," said Landis, who is preparing to contest the Leadville 100 later this season on August 11.

"There were quite a few weeks when I rode a reasonable amount, 200-300 miles a week," he said to the Denver Post. "Then that hearing. It was almost 10 days. I didn't ride at all. You're sitting there. The next thing you know, you're eating doughnuts and you don't even care. It was awful." He said his new, surgically repaired hip was performing at 100%.

Local Jay Henry won the race ahead of Ross Schnell and another Vail local Jimmy Mortenson. Mountain bike legend Ned Overend, at 52 years-old, showed the younger guys who's boss and won the hill climb event held at nearly 10,000 feet altitude.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Beth Schneider/www.bethschneider.com

Images by Petr Bures/www.MTBS.cz

McDermott tops at Qashqai - Cologne

British rider Lance McDermott took top honors over Canadian Darren Berrecloth and American Paul Basagoitia at the fourth round of the Qashqui Challenge in Cologne, Germany. The competition is now on hiatus. The final round wraps up in Paris June 22-23.

Basagoitia started his first run with a 360 off the starting drop, then tabletopped on his way to the top of the roll-in for the box jump. He dropped in and as he went upside down, decided that this fifteen-foot box would be perfect for a flipwhip. Basagoitia kept his run going with a 360 over the spine, footplant over the hitching post, and at the end of his run, another flair.

Berrecloth was the next rider to go, and he followed Basagoitia with a 360-table off the starting drop. Bearclaw landed a stretched out indian air superman on the box jump and proceeded to make his way back to the top of the Qashqai wallride. He took a deep breath and dropped into the roll-in, pedaling as hard as he possibly could towards the big quarter next to the starting drop. Bearclaw boosted the big quarter into a one handed table across the ramps, into a banked ramp. After landing his big gap, The Claw capped his run with an opposite 360 from the spine to the take off of the box jump.

The pressure was on for McDermott, who qualified first and was the last rider to ride in the first round of finals. He flipped the first drop and pedaled across the top of the monster wall to get speed for the box jump. He continued his run with a perfect front flip over the huge box, into a backflip over the spine. McDermott came back to the other spine and 360 tailtapped it on his way to the big quarter, which he tailwhipped. He handplanted the hitching post on his way back from that, then ended his amazing run with a 360-handplant on the spine.

The riders went right into the second round of finals, but most were quite happy with their first round, so they used their second run to dial in their lines or try some tricks that they didn't do in their first run. For example, Bearclaw stuck a perfect 360-tailtap on the hitching post of the spine during his second round and Benny Korthaus landed the flair that he was attempting all weekend.

Basgoitia's second round was the most remarkable, as he began his run as normal on the top of the starting drop. The starting area was perched approximately forty feet above the ground, and he decided that he would try a new line from the start ramp. He skipped the step-down ramp altogether and bunnyhopped from the very top of the starting area into the transition of the big quarter that was next to the starting area. After landing it clean and riding away to continue a run filled with flairs, tailwhips, and 360's.

At the end of the second round, the riders were quite curious to see if Basgoitia's crazy start was enough to take the win from riders like McDermott and Bearclaw, who both put in some incredible runs. The final runs from all twelve riders were spectacular, but it was clear that all three are hungry for the overall win which comes with a prize of 50,000 Euros.

The judges deliberated for quite some time while the riders discussed their runs and high-fived each other, but Basagoitia would come out on top. Each of the top three riders has one win under their belt now, which brings the overall standings even closer.

Results from Cologne

1 Lance McDermott (GBr)       
2 Darren Berrecloth (Can)     
3 Paul Basagoitia (USA)       
4 Adam Hauck (USA)            
5 Ben Boyko (Can)             
Overall standings
1 Paul Basagoitia (USA)     72 pts
2 Darren Berrecloth(Can)    68
3 Lance McDermott (GBr)     60
4 Ben Boyko (Can)           45
5 Andreu Lacondeguy (Spa)   42 

Commit to the Line to screen Saturday

Commit to the Line will be screened for free on Saturday at 7 PM at Carrol College's Simperman Hall in Wisconsin. The film takes place at the Spokeswomen Mountain Biking Camp at Whistler resort in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was shot one year after film-maker Rachelle A. Dermer had attended the camp as a participant.

Dermer, based in Boston, is a cancer survivor. After two surgeries and subsequent radiation treatments, Dermer found herself without the strength, confidence, and commitment to riding she had had for 19 years.

"It was terrible," she said to the Helena Independent Record. "I could not bike and I could not stand the thought of being weak and helpless."

"After the cancer, I realized I'd lost my old self forever," Dermer said. "I used to be fearless, easygoing, and strong. After cancer, I became anxious and realized I was frightened all the time. I thought about the cancer every day and whether it would return. I needed to do something positive, so I decided to attend the Spokeswomen Mountain Bike Camp."

The sense of strength and accomplishment Dermer experienced at the camp gave her the idea to make a film about the camp and other women who find empowerment through mountain biking.

Pre-Test approaches quickly

Those looking to cram before the Test of Metal might consider tackling on June 9 the Pre-Test XC race, which benefits the Don Ross Secondary School Outdoor Leadership program while also providing winners a chance to win an entry into the Test of Metal.

"We're proud to be able to help a valuable curricular program at Don Ross that helps kids learn many valuable leadership qualities that will benefit them for the rest of their lives," said Pre-Test race director Jim Douglas. "It's a program that reflects the value of life-long recreational pursuit."

Since getting an entry into the Test of Metal has become so competitive, organizers are offering each adult category winner an entry into next weekend's Test of Metal. Second place in the adult categories will earn a spot in the 2007 Gearjammer and third place gets an entry to the new Grass Roots Mountain Bike Association (GRMBA) championship to be held in Squamish this September.

The classic-style multi-lap event XC event takes place in Brackendale at 11AM. For more information, visit www.testofmetal.com.

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