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MTB news & racing round-up for June 30, 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

Kalentieva and Absalon take home Mont Sainte Anne victories

Irina Kalentieva (Topeak)
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller
(Click for larger image)

Russian mountain bike star Irina Kalentieva took her second World Cup victory of the season and assumed the lead in the overall World Cup standings in a last lap sprint last weekend in Mont Sainte Anne in Canada.

"The course here is one of my favorites," said Kalentieva, who battled the whole race with Sabine Spitz of Germany, and new star and Chinese Olympic favorite Ren Chengyuan. On the last lap, Kalentieva put the hammer down to build a 10-second gap by the finish line, winning her second career World Cup race.

"The next race is also in Canada," continued Kalentieva, referring to the World Cup happening this Sunday, July 1 in Saint Félicien. "I'm planning on not only defending, but extending my lead so that I can become the 2007 World Cup Champion." Kalentieva has won the Russian Championships six times, and has been second and third at the World Championships.

Frenchman Julien Absalon showed his dominance again over the rest of the men's field by taking another World Cup win, but he was challenged along the way by Spain's José Hermida, who was the lone leader for almost the entire race in an attempt to add another World Cup victory to the one he already had earlier this year in Houffalize. However, Hermida could not withstand Absalon's late attack. Canada's Geoff Kabush finished third.

"I've tried my best and rode with full risk. But different than in Houffalize, it was not enough to take the victory," said Hermida afterward.

Hill takes win and moves to top of standings

Samuel Hill (Iron Horse/Monster Energy)
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller/PhotoSport International
(Click for larger image)

21 year-old Australian Sam Hill (Iron Horse/Monster Energy Team) won the downhill at the World Cup round in Monte-Sainte-Anne, Canada, and leapt to the top of the overall standings after three rounds.

The reigning World Champion covered the 3.2km course in a time of 4:29.58 seconds - just over a second faster than South Africa's Greg Minnaar (4:31.27) with Great Britain's Steve Peat third in 4:31.30.

"I would have liked it to rain," said Hill after the final. "I didn't feel as strong on the course, so to come and win is a confidence booster. I've had a few injuries at the start of the season, but I feel stronger as the season goes on."

Minaar's second-place ride was slightly complicated by his trick shoulder, which popped out on the way down the track. "My shoulder came out, dislocated, and I had to cruise for a bit until I could get it back in," said Minaar. "It's been perfect all week and never gave me any trouble. I just came into a section and relaxed my upper body a bit as you do on a long track, and I hit a bump and it pulled my shoulder out.

"It hurt a bit," said Minaar, "but the main thing was that I have no strength when it's out, so I have to get it in to continue. It's obvious this is recurring problem but it needs surgery and that requires a three month recovery period. I have to try and finish off my season. I already have an operation booked for October."

In the overall standings, Hill now leads with 557 points, Peat and Matti Lehikoinen of Finland trail by 32 and 141 points respectively.

In the women's race, defending world champion Sabrina Jonnier (Iron Horse/Monster Energy) took a convincing win at Mont-Sainte-Anne. Jonnier was over two seconds up on second place Tracy Moseley (Kona Les Gets) to claim her second win of the 2007 season.

For Cyclingnews' complete coverage of the World Cup in Mont Sainte Anne, click here.

Berrecloth wins final and overall Qashqai

Darren Berrecloth "The Claw" (Specialized) won the Qashqai overall ahead of Paul Basagoitia (Kona) who confidently scooped up second, just one point behind. The Canadian Berrecloth won the final round in Paris, a Big Air event, with Greg Watts (Gary Fisher) and Cameron McCaul (Trek) in second and third.

Rain kept the riders from putting on a show during the first day of the Big Air event, but day two was packed with action all day long for the Qashqai fans. The riders took advantage of the dry weather to impress the spectators with huge jumps and killer tricks, finalizing the five-event five discipline free ride series.

The riders began the day early with a lengthy practice session to get acclimated to the big jumps. The course began with a super-sized roll-in, then a 10 meter jump, followed by another booter with a 7 meter gap. The course ended with a big quarter pipe wall for the riders to blast at the end of their runs.

All eyes were on Basagoitia and the Claw as they climbed to the top of the roll-in tower. Basagoitia was the first out of the two to ride, and he started his run with a back flip over the 10m gap and continued with a table one foot to x-up on the second. Basagoitia blasted the quarter wall super high, over the heads of the cameramen on the deck of the ramp.

Bearclaw was next on the starting ramp and he knew that he would have to come up with something amazing if he was going to edge out Basagoitia for the overall win. He rolled into the Paris course to the sound of thousands of screaming fans and stretched out his trademark indian air on the first gap. He landed it perfect enough to hit the second booter with enough speed and control to spin a 360 one-footed table. Bearclaw wrapped his run by boosting out of the quarter wall with huge air.

The 50,000 Euros overall prize money motivated both riders to perform in Paris. However, although the final round of the last stop of the Qashqai tour attempted to push the level of riding even higher, most of the top riders crashed while trying to one-up their previous runs. Bearclaw attempted to 360 the first double and opposite 360 the next, but he over-rotated the opposite 360 and crashed in the dirt at the end of the course.

Qashqai Final Results – Paris: Big Air      

1 Darren Berrecloth (CAN) Specialized
2 Greg Watts (USA) Gary Fisher
3 Cameron McCaul (USA) Trek
4 Paul Basagoitia (USA) Kona
5 Amir Kabbani (GER) Cannondale

Overall Rankings 

1 Darren Berrecloth (CAN) Specialized   88pts (50,000 Euros)
2 Paul Basagoitia (USA) Kona            87 (25,000 Euros)
3 Lance McDermott (UK) Scott            69 (15,000 Euros)
4 Ben Boyko (CAN) Norco                 56 (6,000  Euros)
5 Andreu Lacondeguy (ESP) Kona          54 (4,000 Euros)

Gordon to defend national marathon title

Craig Gordon
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
(Click for larger image)

Australian marathon champion Craig Gordon will defend his national title in Coffs Harbour this Sunday in a national championship event sanctioned by Mountain Bike Australia (MTBA). Gordon won his title last September when he rode alone over the closing kilometres of the 100 km race to win by three minutes.

The 36 year-old from Wombarra in Wollongong then went on to shock the mountain bike fraternity by winning the World Championship 24 hour solo race held in Georgia in the US in October. Gordon beat six-time champion, Chris Eatough from the USA robbing him of what might otherwise have been his seventh consecutive title.

As a result of his exertion, Gordon spent three days in hospital and is now undecided if he will defend his world title this year. "I would love to have another go." he admitted. "It was hard financially and physically. I put myself in hospital but it was worth winning."

"I feel pretty fit," said Gordon. "It's hard to gauge how I'm going. I've only done a race in New Zealand and the Dirt Works."

Craig Gordon, 24 Hours of Adrenaline World Solo Champion,
Photo ©: Evan Jeffery
(Click for larger image)
This year Gordon will be able to test himself against a more experienced Canberra pair, Sean Lewis and James Williamson, out to improve on their third and sixth placing last year. Williamson has also proven his pedigree in long distance racing after winning the Australian 24 hour Solo Championship in Canberra last October. Victorian rider, Murray Spink is another favourite after taking out the inaugural Otways Odyssey Marathon in February.

New South Wales riders could also put up a challenge with two strong Port Macquarie riders, Jason English and Dennis Van Mill. Local favourite, Coffs Harbour's Daniel Alcock, is also a podium chance after placing second in last year's Coffs Marathon. Alcock is suffering a severe knee problem and is unsure if it will cope with over four hours of racing.

Another contender is Brisbane's Andrew Wilcher after winning the Coffs Marathon last year with a sprint to the finish line but with a national title up for grabs the pace will be on for the full 95 kilometres.

The women's field is wide open with defending national marathon champion, Tory Thomas racing overseas. One of the favourites for the event is Katrin Van Der Spiegel from Sydney currently ranked fifth in Australia. Local favourite is Vanessa McDonald who has returned to mountain bike racing after a seven year absence.

The elite women's race will get underway at 7:15 am while the elite men's race starts at 7:45 am. The first full distance marathon riders are expected across the line around 12:15 pm.

In addition to this race, a second event also bills itself as the Australian National Marathon Championship. The VAUDE Highland Fling, an independent event not sanctioned by MTBA, annually awards its own national titles as part of a marathon race geared toward both amateur and elite racers, is scheduled this year for November 11. In 2006, the event drew 1,100 racers.

Klunkerz to premier in Hollywood

Billy Savage's film Klunkerz will premier in Hollywood 5:00 pm Saturday afternoon, June 30 at the Vine Theater as part of the seventh annual Bicycle Film Festival. The documentary film examines the genesis of the sport of mountain biking, tracing it's origins to a small group of friends in Northern California's Marin County in the late 1960's and 1970's. The film includes interviews with many of the sports' pioneers and some of the more obscure characters that influenced them.

Many of the cast members will be present at the screening, including Gary Fisher, Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly, Alan Bonds, The Larkspur Canyon Gang, and more. There will be some historic bicycles on hand, as well. The theater is located at 6321 Hollywood Boulevard, just west of Vine Street.

The seventh annual Bicycle Film Festival will be in Los Angeles from June 28 through July 1, 2007.

MASS stage race returns to Marysville

The fourth annual VisitPA.Com stage race and festival returns to the Oesterling Farm in Marysville, Pennsylvania, this weekend June 29 - July 1.

One highlight of the event is an extra speed event, a night-time individual time trial for those who want to do something a little different or who aren't morning people. Another is the bike toss, in which competitors will awkwardly heave a bike as far as possible. Of course they don't use a nice bike for this event, but instead use one of those department store bikes look like racing mountain bikes but gets bent if actually ridden in the woods.

Mid Atlantic Super Series Media Director Ken Getchell said "the toss" is an event that could only happen at a mountain bike race, "It would never work at a road race. At least the mountain bikers have some upper body development. You look at some of those road racers and it would be like a piece of cooked spaghetti trying to throw a meatball."

For more info, visit www.masuperseries.com.

Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic set for next week

Infineon Raceway will open its world-famous motor sports venue to racers of the human-powered variety for the Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic July 6 - 8 in Sonoma, California.

Saturday's events will include a cross country race on a 7.7 mile course on raceway property and a road criterium that's part of the National Racing Series (NRC) on the lower section of the race track, including hairpin turn #11. Sunday, racers tackle a Super D and a downhill race on Cougar Mountain and a road race, also part of the NRC.

Held in conjunction with the events will also be the Trips for Kids annual bike swap on Saturday and Sunday and a display of vintage bicycles dating back to the 1950s, part of the Brad Wahl Collection from American Cyclery in San Francisco. Bikes on display will include Legnano, Confente, Masi, Olmo, Cinelli, Coppis, Fisher, Specialized, Schwinn and others.

A return to the Wild Side

After a year off in 2007, the Wildside returns to the race calendar from January 19-22, 2008. Entries for this Australian stage race open on July 1.

The race will feature seven stages over 200km and 4 days, from Cradle Mountain to Strahan on Tasmania's rugged and wild west coast. The course will follow much the same route as previous years with some minor variations. AUS$7,000 are on the line, with $1,500 to the fastest man and woman.

Rumor has it that Sid Taberlay is keen to avenge his loss to Chris Jongewaard in the 2006 event which ended his perfect run of victories in the event. Jongewaard has had the edge on Taberlay in recent events, but there is no doubt that Taberlay will be very hard to beat on his home turf come January.

Full event details are available at www.wildsidemtb.com, with entries being accepted beginning July 1.

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