MTB news & racing round-up for November 14, 2007
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Edited by Sue George
Riders gear up for La Ruta
Race favourite Thomas Dietsch (Bianchi)
Photo ©: La Ruta
The La Ruta de los
Conquistadores 15th Anniversary event begins today at the warm beach
town of Jacó, a surf and nightlife paradise in Costa Rica's Pacific coast.
During a press conference held yesterday afternoon, the organizers officially
introduced the race to local and international media, while both local
and foreign professional riders answered questions from the press about
what they think of this year's special event.
"I think this is a hard race," said France's Thomas Dietsch (Bianchi).
"I've spoke to several European riders that have came in the past and
they all told me this is a great experience, but is also a great challenge.
"I've been training hard but this is really different of what I'm used
to do in Europe," he added. "Let's see how I end tomorrow's stage and
then I'll be able to tell you if I can win or not!"
Dietsch is probably the favourite to take out this year's edition, being
the current XCM World's ranking leader and having also won the 2007 World
Cup. Another racer that was present at the meeting was Canadian Andreas
Hestler (Rockymountain), who is back in La Ruta after his seventh place
"Hydration is the key, for sure," explained Hestler. "I will drink lots
of Cristal water and Gatorade, and then Imperial (local beer) at night,
with beer nuts to replace salt...
Some of this year's top men and
Photo ©: La Ruta
"It is difficult in Canada to train hard this time of year [but] this
is my second year, so the preparation is easier because you have more
knowledge of what to expect," he added. "But 15,000 feet of climbing in
the first day...it's the most I've ever done, and it is brutally hard."
Among the women contenders, there are two that stand out from the rest.
Louise Kobin (Sho Air) and Susan Haywood (Trek Volkswagen) will be fighting
each other to win this year's trophy. Haywood's bicycle didn't make it
to the airport in San José last night so the Trek dealer in Costa Rica,
Motos Pazos, took care of the situation and put her on an 'Elite' frame
for the first day.
"That's the beauty of this family, you have friends everywhere ready
to help out when you need," said Haywood. "I know the race conditions,
the terrain and the rivals are the main challenges, I don't see how riding
an 'unknown' bike can be the worst thing."
"My bike is still...to be decided at this point," she added. "I normally
ride a pretty stock Trek, with no special equipment or setup, but I will
miss my saddle. It's great to have Trek family all over the world, and
they will be helping out as much as they can. But this (missing bike)
is a small obstacle for this race, compared to the mental challenge. I've
been hearing from everyone how hard it is, so I will just pace myself
and do the best I can."
This year's La Ruta will have a total field of 517 riders, most of them
foreigners coming from 28 different countries. The first day will start
this morning at an early 5:10 AM, in front of the Best Western Jacó Beach
For a start list and other preview information, click
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
The long haul for the O'Deas
By Sue George
Namrita and Eddie O'Dea (Vassago
Cycles) enjoy a busy schedule
Photo ©: Namrita and Eddie O'Dea
Married for just over a year, Eddie and Namrita O'Dea are two American
racers balancing the demands of professional racing and training for and
even the promoting of endurance races. While many couples have their hands
full with just one member racing professionally in the time-consuming
endurance mountain bike discipline, Eddie and Namrita O'Dea have to juggle
the racing and training needs for two. On top of that, Namrita is a full-time
masters student of nutrition at Georgia State University.
"We're both concentrating on endurance racing - mostly 24 hour solos,
but 100 milers and 12 hours, too," said Namrita, who turned 31 in October.
"We train together quite a bit," added 32 year-old Eddie, who finished
fourth at the 2007 US 24 hour solo nationals and has also won the 12 hours
of Dauset and the Cowbell Challenge. "During the week in heavy training
sessions, we may go to same place, but we'll ride different stuff. We
ride together more during our weekends."
"We get to spend a lot of time together," he continued. "One of us is
not off training, so there is no stress on the relationship due to time
apart. We also both understand what are goals are and why. There's no
explaining why I want to go ride in circles for 24 hours."
However, two serious racers in one household does place stresses on family
resources. "It's a lot of equipment, time and money," noted Eddie. "Sometimes,
the laundry doesn't get done."
"When we travel, neither of us is working and we're spending twice as
much money," added Namrita, before adding sincerely, "I'd much rather
have it like this than only one of us racing."
The couple from Atlanta, Georgia will both ride for Vassago Cycles in
2008, with Eddie joining the team for which Namrita raced in 2007. With
a relationship that centres so heavily around mountain biking, it's only
natural that it was in the forests that the pair first met. "I was training
for my first 24 hour and crashed two weeks before and couldn't race,"
said Namrita. "I volunteered to help a solo racer to learn more. That's
how we met in 2004. I supported him."
The pair has a comfortable rapport on and off the bikes, but when it
comes to the competitive aspect Namrita knows who's faster. "There's no
contest," she noted. "Eddie's definitely faster. I'm just happy to keep
up; my goal isn't to be faster."
When not racing or promoting races Eddie, who originally hails from Connecticut,
works for the company they founded, 55nineperformance, which provides
bike fitting and coaching. Namrita, originally from Troy, Michigan, will
add nutritional counselling to the company's range of expertise when she
completes her degree.
The Vassago team races on 29ers, but Namrita also rides and races exclusively
on a singlespeed. In 2007, she won both the solo women's category and
the solo singlespeed (men's and women's) category the 12 hours of Dauset.
She also took the women's singlespeed and overall wins at the six hours
of Conyers and eighth place at 24 hour solo nationals.
Eddie has no plans to follow his wife's lead into the singlespeed arena.
"I don't race on a singlespeed," he said. "I don't because I feel I am
at a disadvantage with the guys I'm competing against. The reason she
started in the first place was because she had many mechanical issues
during races. She dropped out of the Shenandoah Mountain 100 twice with
To read the complete feature on the O'Deas, click
British National Series gets new organizers
British Cycling selected Frank Jaworski and Paul Hore from Thetford MTB
Racing to run the British National Cross Country and Marathon Mountain
Bike Series. For 2008, the National Point Series will comprise five events,
and a one-day stand-alone National Championship event will also be held.
No significant format changes are expected; however the 25km Sunday enduro
will be replaced with a 75km enduro. Cross country events will still happen
Referring to Thetford, British Cycling's Mountain Bike Coordinator Roger
Wilbraham said, "Their pedigree, as organisers of the excellent Dusk
Til Dawn events and the Marin winter series, speaks for itself and British
Cycling is confident the new team will run the national series with enthusiasm
Jaworski and Hore said, "Our goal is to take advantage of this momentum
and continue to improve where necessary to bring you the most professional
events possible. We're fortunate to be assuming a series that's seen very
good attendance in the last year. We will continue to try and reach out
to new riders and draw the very best talent the UK has to offer."
A firm schedule was not yet released, but the series will open in April
with round one at Thetford. "With the limited planning time we've
had, it made sense for us to stick to a venue we know well for the first
round this year," said organizers. "We easily accommodated over
800 riders this year at Dusk 'til Dawn from the Mayday Meadow area of
the forest, and we will use this recently expanded area again for the
opening round of the NPS.
"Other locations we're currently researching include Wales, Scotland,
Yorkshire, Lake District, Forest of Dean, and Margam Park. Some of the
criticism we've seen about the recent series was that it wasn't a truly
'National' series. We're trying to spread the events out to cover a larger
Four picked for Spanish Olympic mountain bike team
Photo ©: www.lejarreta-inaki.com
Four mountain bikers were chosen Wednesday to represent Spain at the
2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Based on the 2007 UCI rankings, selector
Cristóbal Sanchez summoned three men and one woman: Jose Antonio
Hermida, Iñaki Lejarreta, Carlos Coloma and Marga Fullana. Ruben
Ruzafa and Rocío Gamonal were picked as alternates "in case some
exceptional event takes place, like an injury or a disease."
Final nations' rankings from 2006 and 2007 will be used to determine
how many athletes each country can send, and while those standings aren't
finalized yet, as of October 18, 2007, Spain was sitting third in the
rankings for the men, but did not make the top five for the women.
To send the maximum team of three men or two women to Beijing, a nation
must have a top-five ranking in the men's standings or a top-eight ranking
for the women.
"If I give the selection with this much time in advance [of the
Games], the athletes will be as prepared as possible for Beijing,"
said Sanchez, who was also pleased about the Spanish men earning three
spots. "Our immediate goal was to obtain the third [men's] Olympic
seat, something we never had and finally we have done so. The quest to
do so was very positive for the riders, who have given it everything.
I want to publicly thank the cyclists and their teams for their collaboration
After hearing the news of his selection, team leader Jose Antonio Hermida
said, "I am satisfied, I cannot deny it. Though I was waiting for
it, I didn't stop from worrying that some last minute thing might influence
the national team coach to select another rider. Now that I know, there
is less pressure, so I can have more tranquility to prepare for the 2008
season which will be focused on the Olympic Games."
Lejarreta, who suffered illness in 2005 and 2006, but returned for strong
2007 season, was also happy and said, "For me today is a great day,
because I know that I will be in the most important competition for a
sportsman. Now I have almost a year to prepare for this appointment and
to repay all the confidence that has been shown in me. I want to thank
for my family, to my fiancée and all around me who supported me
in the bad moments. Just a year ago, I was thinking about leaving the
cycling, and now I am preparing for the Olympic Games. Without them, it
would not have been possible."
The Olympic mountain bike races are set for August 22 and 23, 2008 in
Barel leaves Kona
After five years, two World Championships and several World Cup victories,
Frenchman Fabien Barel is leaving Team Kona.
"It has been a pleasure to be a part of the downhill racing team
and to help that image grow. I wish everyone were as fortunate to work
as closely together as we have," said Barel according to Kona's website
www.konaworld.com. I have worked with Kona longer than any other
brand and the Kona groove will keep spreading for me, whatever I do. I
intensely thank Kona for the support and for accepting me as part of their
Kona's Jacob Heilbron had nothing but kind words for the departing rider.
"When you see Fabien race in a World Cup event, you see a rider who's
completely in tune with himself, his bike and the terrain. It is a standard
of riding that very few cyclists achieve in their career."
In honor of Barel's career at Kona, the bike manufacturer is developing
the Special Edition Fabien Barel signature Stab Supreme. 178 of the bikes,
complete with world champion stripes and Fabien Barel's name on the top
tube, will be made.
Barel has not yet announced his plans for the future.
USA Cycling releases 2008 MTB calendar
USA Cycling announced Thursday the 2008 American Mountain Bike Challenge
(AMBC) calendar. The 26-race calendar features three new events and again
provides off-road cyclists with the opportunity to qualify for the 2008
USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in July at Mount Snow
Resort in Vermont. With events in 17 states, the AMBC also provides entry-level
racing opportunities for competitors interested in participating in the
sport of competitive mountain biking in a local or regional setting.
Beginning March 8 with the Spa City Extreme Six-Hour Mountain Bike Race,
a marathon event in Hot Springs, Ark., the 2008 AMBC stretches seven months
before concluding with the Piney Hills Classic XV in Ruston, La. for the
third consecutive year, October 25-26. The first cross country event on
the AMBC Calendar will again be the Southeastern Regional Championship
Series opener in Gainesville, Fla. on March 16, while the initial gravity
contest will be the 20th-annual Keyesville Classic in Lake Isabella, Calif.,
March 15-16. Created in 1996, the AMBC primarily features Olympic-style
cross-country racing, but also features gravity racing and other disciplines
of competitive mountain biking.
2008 USA Cycling American Mountain Bike Challenge:
March 8: Spa City Extreme 6-Hour MTB Race – Hot Springs, Arkansas
March 16: SERC #1 – Gainesville, Florida
March 15-16: 20th Annual Keyesville Classic – Lake Isabella, California
March 30: Chickasaw Trace Classic – Columbia, Tennessee
April 6: SERC #2 – Bryson City, North Carolina
April 20: Tiger Rag 2008 – Clemson, South Carolina
April 27: Greenbrier Challenge – Frederick, Maryland
April 27: SERC #3 – Winder, Georgia
May 3-4: Idyllwild Spring Challenge – Idyllwild, California
May 4: SERC #4 – Ducktown, Tennessee
May 4: 6th Annual Coyote Classic at Avimor – Boise, Idaho
May 18: Stump Jump 2008 – Spartanburg, South Carolina
May 25: SERC #5 – Athens, Georgia
June 1: 14th Annual Bump & Grind – Pelham, Alabama
June 14-15: Subaru Cup – Mt. Morris, Wisconsin
June 15: SERC #6 – Clemson, South Carolina
June 22: Dawg Dayz MTB Classic – North Little Rock, Arkansas
June 29: Campmor H2H 13th Annual Bulldog Rump – Andover, New Jersey
June 29: SERC #7 – Chattanooga, Tennessee
July 6: DINO Challenge AMBC – North Vernon, Indiana
July 13: SERC #8 – Anniston, Alabama
July 25-26: SERC #9 – Fontana, North Carolina
August 29-31: Camp Eagle Classic MTB Festival – Rock Springs, Texas
August 30-31: Laddies Loppet – Callaway, Minnesota
October 4: Road Apple Rally – Farmington, New Mexico
October 25-26: Piney Hills Classic XV – Ruston, Louisiana
2008 Alpine Bikes winter downhill series set
The Alpine Bikes Winter Series dates have been confirmed for 2008 in
Innerleithen, Scotland. Events are scheduled for January 26-27, February
23-24 and March 22-23. Practice times are Saturday all day and Sunday
morning, and racers will get one run on Sunday afternoons.
iXS Dirt Masters Festival to celebrate second year
The second annual iXS Dirt Masters Festival has been scheduled for May
23-25, 2008, in Winterberg, Germany. The free-riding festival will include
The Cut Slopestyle Contest, the iXS Germany Downhill Cup and the Scott
4X Challenge. Bands and a product expo zone will accompany the festival.
Over 20,000 spectators and 1,000 competitors from 20 nations are expected.
For more information, visit www.dirtmasters-festival.de.
24 hour racing spreads to Dubai
Organizers announced the first-ever 24 hour race in Dubai in the United
Arab Emirates in mid-March 2008. The four kilometer course will run through
Mamzar Parc with a backdrop of azure seas, a sandy beach and palms. Up
to 200 racers can expect a flat and technically undemanding course; some
challenges will include sandy passages and stairs into an ampitheatre
in the park. Solo riders or teams of two or four are welcome. For more
information, visit www.24h-of-dubai.com.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)