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MTB news & racing round-up for August 14, 2008

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

New Essex venue confirmed for the London 2012 Games

Olympic racing at the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece.
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

The 2008 Olympic mountain bike race hasn't happened yet, but more details were revealed Monday about the venue for the 2012 Olympic mountain bike course in Great Britain. The London Organising Committee confirmed that subject to final contract negotiations, the venue for the Mountain Biking events will be at Hadleigh Farm, Essex.

The alternative site was chosen following the decision in January 2008 to move the competition away from The Weald Country Park in Essex after a change in requirements for the sport that resulted in the need to identify a more technical and challenging course.

This venue change for the Games has been approved by the International Cycling Union (UCI), British Cycling (BC), the International Olympic Committee, and the British Olympic Association.

The new venue covers a 550 acre site situated close to the village of Hadleigh, near Benfleet in Essex. The site encompasses grassland and woodland of Hadleigh Farm, land owned by the Salvation Army, and the surrounding countryside of Hadleigh Castle Country Park.

There are two major hill areas, separated by a valley which will create the technical climbs for the course to challenge the competitors from around the world in less than four years' time. The course will be set against the stunning backdrop of the 700 year-old ruins of Hadleigh Castle.

"It is testament to the hard work of everyone in involved that we have been able to confirm an alternative venue for the mountain biking competition only seven months after the venue change was announced," said Sebastian Coe, Chair of the Organizing Committee.

"In Hadleigh Farm we have a world class venue for Games time with the potential for an excellent facility for elite and community use post Games."

"The UCI is delighted with Hadleigh Farm and believe it will be a spectacular mountain biking venue for London 2012," said UCI President Pat McQuaid, who complimented the terrain and spectator opportunities.

"Our technical experts believe it meets all the requirements of an Olympic course with a range of elevations that will provide a challenging course for competitors."

Peter King, British Cycling CEO, pointed out another advantage, saying that the venue will be just 45 minutes from the Olympic Park.

Next steps for the London 2012 Organising Committee and Essex County Council include a four month period of detailed planning on the course layout and the temporary facilities required to host the event; securing contractual agreements between all parties; working with the local community on an engagement programme and the announcement in the autumn of the Cycling Competition Manager.

Trek & 23 Degrees partner for new team in 2009

Trek Bicycles, which now sponsors World Cup-level cross country racers through the Trek / VW team, will partner with 23 Degrees Sports Management to sponsor a World Cup level gravity and cross country racing team for 2009.

"We're extremely excited to be part of Trek's ambitions for top level World Cup racing and results in 2009 onwards, and we're doubly excited to be returning to the race scene, one that has served our company well over the past 8 years," said 23 Degrees Founder and CEO Martin Whiteley.

23 Degrees has won previous World Cup titles through its teams: Global Racing and more recent Team G Cross Honda.

The new team plans to release further details, including a rider line-up, after they are confirmed.

Lakata and Starr win French Tour VTT

Alban Lakata and Dellys Starr won the L'Hexagonal VTT, the Tour de France VTT on Tuesday. Several Olympic contenders including Moritz Milatz, Jean Christophe Peraud, Christoph Sauser and Laurence Leboucher made appearances at the race to fine-tune their form in the final two weeks before the big day in Beijing.

Milatz, Peraud, Catriel Soto, Sauser, Leboucher and Starr all won stages, but in the end Lakata and Starr triumphed. Leboucher was leading the women's race, but a mechanical on the final stage five cost her 15 minutes and the lead.

Soto took the best young rider's classification.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the L'Hexagonal VTT.

Beer & Pugin successful in Châtel

Nick Beer won
Photo ©: Christian Lubosch
(Click for larger image)

At the iXS European Downhill Cup's third stop in Châtel, France, Nick Beer and Floriane Pugin rode to not entirely surprising victories.

For Saturday's seeding run, the conditions were almost perfect. The course that had been wet in the morning was drying quickly in most places, which promised times around three minutes. Once again German Andreas Sieber (Solid A-Class Factory Team) proved his class, being the sole rider to slip under the three minutes barrier. Nick Beer crashed and decided to roll to the finish. His brother Marcel (both from Switzerland and competing for the iXS Sports Division team) on the other hand placed second, closely followed by Swiss Samuel Zbinden (Argentina Bike). Being considered as a pre-race favorite by many, New Zealand's Nathan Rankin (Iron Horse) did not take many risks and finished in eighth.

On Sunday, the weather was splendid and sunny for the final. Due to his crash in the seeding run, Beer was one of the first elite men's riders on the course. Nevertheless he posted a blazingly fast time with 2:53.297, thus occupying the hot seat for a long time. It was not until Rankin missed the fastest time by two seconds that Beer's ride showed its true quality. All the riders that followed could not touch the fastest time either, and even Sieber who had posted the fastest seeding run had to admit defeat, finishing in third behind Rankin.

The women's race was won by Frenchwoman Pugin (Playbiker/Ironhorse), who put more than seven seconds on Switzerland's Miriam Ruchti (Sport Promotion), who still felt the effects of surgery on a wisdom tooth, and France's Caroline Sax (Sport Promotion).

After three of the five rounds, Marcel Beer leads the men's overall by a margin of twenty points over his brother Nick, who has only competed in two races thus far due to his participation at the World Cup races in Canada. In the women's standings, Miriam Ruchti kept her lead, followed by Sax and Harriet Rücknagel.

The next round is scheduled for August 23-24, 2008 in Ilmenau, Germany.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the iXS Downhill in Châtel, France.

Armstrong shows fitness in Leadville

By Gary Boulanger, BikeRadar.com

Lance Armstrong
Photo ©: Rob O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

Former mountain bike cross country pro Dave Wiens won his sixth consecutive Leadville 100 off road race in Colorado Saturday, setting a new course record of 6:45.47, with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong finishing second in 6:47.41.

With more than 1,000 racers participating in the annual event, the pressure was on from the beginning. Wiens, 43, took his place in the first row of the start line minutes before the race began. Wiens and Armstrong broke away from a lead group of 10 at the halfway point, and worked like roadie team-mates to increase their lead.

Armstrong, who splits his saddle time 50/50 with road and dirt, was yo-yoing with Wiens on the climbs and descents before acquiescing victory with 10 miles remaining. Wiens is married to Susan DeMattei, bronze medalist in the women's cross country at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Floyd Landis pushed Wiens to set a course record in 2007, finishing second.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Leadville 100.

Näf extends with the Multivan Merida

Before stepping on the plane to Beijing's Olympic games, Ralph Näf renewed his contract with the Multivan Merida Biking Team for two additional years. Therefore, Näf, who hails from Switzerland's Thurgau region will compete in the familiar colors of his race team until at least 2010.

He joined the team in 2003, and has played a role in developing the fully-suspended 96 racing model. Besides making his country's very competitive Olympic squad, Näf recently won stage two of the Transschwarzwald, a stage race for mountain bikers in Germany's Schwarzwald region, on his way to taking over the overall lead. However, he will withdraw from the race as he is scheduled to depart for Beijing before the race's end.

American President previews Olympic MTB Course

During his visit to Beijing, China, for the 2008 Olympic Games, US President George Bush managed to get in some riding in between watching some non-cycling events. Known as an avid mountain biker, Bush took a spin around the Olympic course in Laoshan.

"Biking was really, really difficult," Bush said according to the New York Times. "That's why they call it an Olympic course." His ride on the race course was his second after he previously rode it with the Chinese team in 2005.

The Olympic Mountain Bike races are scheduled for August 22 (women) and August 23 (men). Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete coverage.

Magic potion: Avid Elixir CR

By James Huang

According to Avid, Elixir is lighter, more powerful
(Click for larger image)

The new Avid Elixir hydraulic disc brake platform incorporates some novel technologies and promises some compelling performance but is it the real deal?

Avid's engineers and designers certainly had a daunting challenge in front of them when developing a new brake line to supplement its popular Juicy. At least on paper, they certainly succeeded: according to Avid, Elixir is more powerful yet easier to control, plus 20-30g lighter as compared to a similarly configured Juicy 7. Moreover, its intended usage now spans the full range from cross-country all the way to downhill.

Elixir isn't an evolution of Juicy as much as it is a wholly new design. The master cylinder boasts a radical new TaperBore internal architecture that should ultimately yield better long-term durability plus the integrated concentric fluid reservoir makes for a tidy appearance. In addition to the tool-free reach adjustment introduced on the Elixir R, the upscale CR comes with an inline pad contact adjustment at the end of the body. Aluminum lever blades are standard but carbon levered versions are on tap as well.

The top-end Elixir CR also adds
(Click for larger image)

The two-piece caliper is all-new as well and the upsized pistons (roughly between Juicy and Code) provide more clamping force. The pads are now top-loaded for easier replacement and the correspondingly bigger caliper window works in conjunction with the grooved piston faces to dissipate more heat. Unlike the standard Elixir R's inline hose attachment, the CR caliper gets a rotatable banjo for more customizable hose routing.

Naturally, Avid has retained its superb CPS arrangement of concave and convex washers for easy installation and adjustments. In answer to some user complaints, Avid has also increased the hardness of the washers to prevent them taking a set.

All told, total claimed weight for the new Elixir CR is a competitive 385g for a complete assembly including a 160mm rotor. Carbon lever blades shed 10g per wheel and sacrificing the adjustable pad contact saves another 10g. Avid will offer 185mm and 203mm-diameter rotors, too, and retail price for the CR is a surprisingly reasonable US$204-212 per wheel, depending on configuration.

Read the complete review.

Eddie & Namrita O'Dea Diary: Busy as ever

The LeMans start
Photo ©: M. Fowler
(Click for larger image)

It's been awhile since we wrote, but that doesn't mean we haven't been busy! We directed a very successful Burn 24 Hour with a record attendance in May and then traveled to Michigan for the Lumberjack 100. The Lumberjack 100 was a huge disappointment to say the least. I crashed badly two days before the race while doing an easy spin with Danielle Musto.

I wasn't wearing gloves and my hands slipped off the bars while descending the last trail of the day. I thought I fractured my femur. Fortunately I didn't, but it took a trip to the emergency room to figure that out. Either way, I couldn't even make it to the starting line!

The race and the afterparty were still a ton of fun as the National Ultra Endurance (NUE) races always draw a good crowd. Since then I have been finishing up my dietetic internship this summer while Eddie has been very busy with the Wobble Naught fittings in his new location at AVX Bikes in Atlanta.

More recently we traveled back to Michigan to visit my parents, then headed over to New York to visit Eddie's parents. We even had a chance to ride over to Niagara Falls.

We just returned from racing the 24 hour Solo US National Championship Race at 24-9 in Wisconsin. We were both hoping for a top five finish. Eddie has placed fourth the last two years, and I was eighth last year due to technical difficulties with my lights. Alas, the stars were not aligned for either of us this year and we were both plagued with other difficulties.

We all have bad days, but the day of the National Championship race is not the day you want to have it!

Read the complete diary entry.

24 Hours of Landahl cancelled

Organizers have cancelled the 24 hours of Landahl for 2008. The event, organized by Granny Gear Productions, was originally scheduled for September 20-21 in Blue Springs, Missouri. The event was previously run in 2006 and 2007.

"The 24 Hours of Landahl has been cancelled due low turn out for early registration," said a statement on the organizer's website.

The next event in Granny Gear's 24 hour National Points Series is the 24 hours of Moab on October 11-12 in Utah.

Charlottesville to host omnium

The Charlottesville, Virginia, area will host a three-stage, off-road omnium September 19-20. The mainstay event will be the long-running O'Hill Meltdown, a cross country race which will serve as the final stage.

Saturday, September 20 - Stage 1: Super U time trial, Blue Ridge School, St. George, Virginia, 3 miles (mostly uphill)
Saturday, September 20 - Stage 2: Short track cross country, Tevendale Farm, Earlysville, Virginia, 1.8 mile laps
Sunday, September 21 - Stage 3: O'Hill Meltdown cross country, Charlottesville, Virginia, 6 mile laps with 1400 feet climbing per lap

The event will benefit the Blue Ridge School Junior Mountain Bike team. For more information, visit www.offroadomnium.com.

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