MTB news & racing round-up for October 11, 2007
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Edited by Sue George
Spitz's best is yet to come
By Bjorn Haake
Sabine Spitz (Germany) on her way
to second at the World Championships in Fort William, Scotland
Photo ©: Didier Weemaels
Sabine Spitz is Germany's top female mountain biker. Winning the German
championships from 2001 to 2006 without interruption showed her domination
of the German race scene and in fact, 2007 was the first year she had
to settle for silver, behind current time trial road time trial and former
cyclo-cross world champion Hanka Kupfernagel. However, overall her 2007
season was very successful. She called 2007 "one of the best years
It is hard to argue with two European Championships titles, one in cross
country, obtained in Turkey in July, and one in the marathon, at the end
of the season on home soil in St. Wendel, Germany. Throw in a silver medal
at the World Championships in Fort William, Scotland, and it is easy to
see why the 35 year-old does not give any thought to retirement. But how
did she get where she is today?
Spitz's career got jump-started in the early 1990s. Her boyfriend (and
now husband and manager) Ralf Schäuble was a runner, but had to switch
to mountain biking due to an injury. It didn't kill his competitive spirit
and so he entered some local races. Spitz didn't want to stay behind and
decided to also give mountain bike racing a shot. The rest, as they say,
Spitz's experienced some success right away, but most of the races were,
of course, smaller, with few spectators. Then 1995 rolled around and the
World Championships were almost in her backyard, in Kirchzarten, Germany.
At the time, individuals were able to participate. The German federation
still required certain placings, but Spitz was able to satisfy those with
some top ten places in national races.
Sabine Spitz (Germany)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
"I got eighth in two races in the Grundig Top Ten races, the predecessor
to the Bundesliga races we have now in Germany." Her starting position
on the big day wasn't so great, "There were 160 starters and I was
in the last row," Spitz laughed. But she managed to pass many competitors
to end up in 35th. That day changed her whole outlook on the sport.
"The masses of spectators were incredible 30,000 people.
It was so different than what I was used to from the other races."
It made her go out and look for a ... coach. Until then she hadn't trained
with any structure. Steadily, she moved up to the top ranks and also started
to race more internationally.
"The first time I went to the US, I did the Cactus Cup in Arizona,
then Sea Otter [Monterey, California] and the World Cup in Napa. We stayed
with a friend in San Francisco for three weeks. A nice city I can
imagine why people want to live there," she recalled her experiences
across the pond. Unfortunately, she discovered things weren't always as
they seemed. "The weather in California wasn't quite as we had expected.
We had a different image in our head. The races were in the spring, and
it still can get pretty cold there. One year it was raining like crazy."
But she did enjoy the courses. "The Americans have a different attitude
when they put the courses together. The loops are much longer [Sea Otter
is around 30km]," Spitz was happy for the change. "It makes
it much more interesting for the racers, but is of course less spectator-friendly
and it is also not great for the team helpers."
To read the complete feature, click
Kenda USA takes over Pedro's Festival
New England's most well-known mountain bike festival saw a changing of
the guard in recent weeks with the departure of long-time sponsor Pedro's
and the signing of new sponsors Kenda USA and Dirt Rag.
The annual festival is held in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, although
the first edition of the event was held in the fall of 1995 in Randolph,
Vermont. It draws racers primarily from all over New England.
Pedro's cited flat growth in attendance as one reason for the move. Jason
Elhardt of Pedro's said to Cyclingnews, "I don't think the
lack of growth reflects the state of mountain biking." He also indicated
it was time for a change in the direction Pedro's pointed its marketing
efforts. "I've only been with Pedro's a few years, but many of us
here have fond memories of the festival. Pedro's is now supporting three
travelling vans, two in the US and one in Europe. They'll be travelling
around and maybe will find our next big event to sponsor."
"It was the right time to move to a new sponsor," said Renee
Hicks, Director of Sponsorship & Expo for the festival to Cyclingnews.
"We're excited about the new energy that brings."
"The festival is a festival only, with no racing. It is family friendly.
Going into its 14th year, many attendees are back with their children,"
added Hicks, who also said there will be more trails for its second year
at the current venue coming up next summer.
The Kenda Bike Festival will next be held at the Apple Tree Hill Organic
Farm in Hancock, Massachusetts July 25-27, 2008 - one week following the
US National Mountain Bike Championship in Mount Snow, Vermont. In addition
to mountain biking, the festival hosts a full slate of road rides.
Nys wins Hondsrug Classic on a 'cross bike
Cyclo-cross rider Sven Nys won the Netherlands' Hondsrug
Classic last weekend. Nys often participates and excels at mountain
bike racing; however, his win this time was noteworthy because he accomplished
it on a 'cross bike. He finished ahead of Peter Riis Andersen (who was
riding on a normal mountain bike). In third and fourth came two more racers
on cyclo-cross bikes: Gerben de Knegt and Thijs Al.
The discussion of what bikes for what races is a recurring one in the
"lower" countries like The Netherlands. In the UCI's regulations,
only three lines are devoted to what is a mountain bike. Often the discussion
is about wheel-size (limited to no larger than 29 inches) and since it's
not otherwise prohibited, racers are allowed to compete in mountain bike
races on 'cross bikes.
"You can't blame the cyclo-cross riders; they are entitled to use
their bikes and since it is allowed by the UCI there is simply nothing
we can do then just sit, wait and watch!" said managers from Team
Dolphin. "The only thing that could be done is the organizer specifying
which bikes a rider may use, but that's not up to us."
Roc d'Azur opened mid-week
You know the season is near its end when the Roc d'Azur rolls around.
The French race in Fréjus, on the Mediterranean Coast, is open
to professionals, amateurs and beginners among others. The action kicked
off Wednesday morning, but a complete schedule is below. Nearly 14,000
participants will take part in 18 races during the course of the several-day
Wednesday, October 10
Generation Roc: free event organized in collaboration with the UNSS for
students in the academy of Nice
Thursday, October 11
Friday, October 12
Roc Marathon 83
Masters Roc, Subaru Roc Pro (for journalists and exhibitors)
UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Qualifications
Roc Ruelles de Fréjus / 70 teams of 2
Saturday, October 13
Roc d'Azur Elite Women and Young Ladies
Rando Roc Noire
UCI BMX Supercross World Cup Finals Women and Men
Kid Roc 8km for boys and girls born in 1993 and 1994
Kid Roc 4.2km for boys and girls born in 1996 and 1998
Kid Roc 6.5 km for boys and girls born in 1994 and 1995
Rando Roc Rouge
Kid Roc 2.3 km for boys and girls born in 2000 and 2001
Sunday, October 14
Roc d'Azur Boys U-16
Roc d'Azur Girls under 16 and 18
Race 17 - Roc d'Azur Boys U-18
Race 18 - Roc d'Azur (first start)
Cannondale seeking a few good men and women
Cannondale is looking for a few more good men and women to fill its roster
for the 2008 Bear Naked Cannondale Mountain Bike Team. The American bike
manufacturer has long supported grassroots and regional mountain bike
racing, but experience and winning aren't the only qualities sought in
the new team members; Cannondale looks for racers who are involved in
their local racing and riding scene and have an outgoing personality.
Over the years, Cannondale's teams have served as the career launching
pad for top racers like Shonny Vanlandingham, Amber Neben, Tom Danielson,
Aaron Chase, Kerry Barnholt, and Paul Rowney, just to name a few.
Applications are being accepted for another few weeks. For more information
on the application process, visit www.cannondale.com/racing/sponsorship.html.
Bikin' Cyprus and others participate in charity ride
Bikin' Cyprus riders Christof Bischof, Michi Weiss and Marios Athanasiades
participated in a 100km charity race sponsored by Vereinigte Volksbank
in Weil der Stadt in Germany on October 3. Money raised from the event
will be donated to children with disabilities.
Some German national road team riders also joined the mix including
Stefan Schumacher, who recently finished third at the UCI Road World Championships
in Stuttgart, Jens Voigt, two time winner of the Tour of Deutschland and
Andreas Klöden who finished (after the disqualification of Floyd Landis)
second in the 2006 Tour de France.
"It's great that through our sport we can offer some help to the
children that need it," Bischof said after the race. "I hope
I will have the chance to help more in the future." The team will
participate in another charity event scheduled for Cyprus in the coming
Crater Cruise draws talented field for weekend race
The annual Colorpress Crater Cruise will take place in Parys, South Africa,
on Saturday, October 13. The race traditionally shapes up as a battle
between road and mountain bikers.
Last year's race was won by mountain biker Ben-Melt Swanepoel (MTN/Microsoft)
but less than four minutes separated the first four places, and Jock Green
(second), the late Ryan Cox (third) and Nic White (fourth) were roadies
who were not far behind.
This year some of the favorites are Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Jaco
Venter (both Neotel), White (MTN/Microsoft), Green, Christoff van Heerden,
Chris Froome (all Konica-Minolta) and David George. Venter finished third
this year in the Mazda Series race in Harrismith while Froome is a young
Kenyan who has consistently been winning races in Africa, Europe and Japan.
Froome, who has signed with Barloworld for next year, won the fifth stage
of the Giro Della Regioni (which is part of the Nations Cup series) in
Italy, a stage in the Tour of Japan and the best young rider classification
at the Giro del Capo.
Mannie Heymans (MTN/Microsoft) predicted a fast pace that will eliminate
riders. "Because the Crater Cruise-route is so flat I think the pace
is going to be high from the start. I also think team tactics will play
a significant role in the outcome. Fortunately for us we've got four riders
in the MTN/Microsoft team who can counter and attack," Heymans said.
Heymans won the first Crater Cruise event and maybe he would have won
the second edition if a farmer hadn't locked his gate during the second
event. Heymans was away with the final selection of the day, the locked
gate meant there was no official winner that year.
"This hasn't been one of my best years. I have been battling. Don't
ask me why, because I really don't have the answers," the 36 year-old
said. "In hindsight I perhaps should have taken things a bit easier
after the Cape Epic and allowed my body to recover. But I didn't and ever
since I have been paying the price. That's why I see my role as that of
'super' domestique. I will be the guy who counters the early attacks or
makes the pace hard in the beginning of the race to try and eliminate
some contenders early on.
Friday, October 12
85km Colorpress Road Master Blaster (a road cycling event for 50 plussers
Saturday, October 13
100km Colorpress Crater Cruise
25km Dirt Flirt number 1
Sunday, October 14
56km Colorpress Crater Cruise and
25km Dirt Flirt number 2
Mike & Mary diary: Autumn Greetings from Chilmark!
Photo ©: Some Bloke
Mike and I recently returned from a solid travelling and racing trip
to Europe, although we were technically in Europe for a full three weeks,
it was segmented into two separate continental excursions: Great Britain
and mainland Europe. This added an extra element of travel and planning
to what could easily be considered the two biggest races of the year
the World Championships and the World Cup finals.
Fresh off the red eye flight, we downed big Americanos to help recall
the finer points of left-hand driving and bolster an attempt at the traffic
circles that ensnare the Glasgow airport. We ended up making an unscheduled
stop for a Scottish supper and soon after the upright night caught up
to us, and we were compelled for safety reasons to stop at the first pricey
B & B that we could find right in the town of Arrochar. It was seeming
like a good thing to have planned to arrive a week before our competitions.
This early fall in Scotland seemed incredibly wet fluctuating
from a continual mist to drizzle with brief moments when the sun forced
its way through the drizzle. Though there was still evidence of summer
with the amazing variety of greens hills covered by dark pine,
grasses, and blooming pink heather amongst the ever present confused bare
patches of forest service tree harvest.
Photo ©: Some Bloke
Mike and I have always enjoyed visiting Scotland and in our six years
attending this venue have found Fort William and its low elevation ski
area style race course to be one of our favorites. The course itself has
morphed year to year but seemingly always in the direction of a more rideable,
faster and less technical. this year at worlds it was no exception. This
year we had to climb once up once and then go down six kilometer plus
loop of pavement of hard-bermed blue stone excavated into the hills at
the foot of the highest point in Great Britain. To our dismay, almost
every nasty technical section from years past had been reshaped, smoothed
out or taken away all together.
Ok it might have not been a true rugged to mountain bike style cross
country course, but it is worth mentioning the effort of the Ben Nevis
resort to develop a network of trails that can be ridden 12 months a year
and would be a boggy mess for 11 and a half months of the year if not
for big development and maintenance. Places like Ben Nevis play a key
role in the future of the sport by expanding riding terrain. What we were
riding was clearly 100% contrived and the starkest contrast to what the
natural environment would have dished up for riding here in the wet.
To read the complete diary entry, click
Gold Coast races set for weekend
Gold Coast mountain bike club will host MTNX, cross country, and downhill
races on October 13 - 14 in Illinbah, Australia. The MTNX track was built
for an Australia National Series Round that will be hosted there in November.
In the event of wet weather, the track may be closed. Call the club mobile
0407 753 327 for more information or visit www.gcmtb.org.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing (Overseas) Limited 2007)