MTB news & racing round-up for August 28, 2008
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Edited by Steve Medcroft
Absalon repeats while Spitz completes dream ride in Beijing
Julien Absalon celebrates his win.
Photo ©: Casey Gibson
In dominating performances, Frenchman Julien Absalon earned his second
consecutive men's Gold medal at the Beijing
Olympics last week while German rider Sabine Spitz fulfilled what
she called a lifetime goal of reaching Gold in the
Absalon was a sure favorite but the men's race wasn't without surprises.
Most notable was Absalon's compatriot Jean-Christophe Peraud, who stormed
to a silver medal, a minute after Absalon celebrated his win. The Swiss
duo of Christoph
Sauser and Nino Schurter delivered an exciting battle for bronze,
with Schurter edging out Sauser by a few seconds.
The Laoshan mountain bike course was criticized after the test event
last year for being too easy, but the riders should have been careful
what they asked for, as the re-designed track was far harder than anyone
"It's the most complicated, difficult technical race. There were lots
of stones and no time to rest," Absalon said after the race. Pernaud agreed
that it was one of the hardest courses he'd ever ridden. "After I finished,
I was so tired that I had to take a rest, because I couldn't feel my legs
anymore," he said.
Absalon was impervious to the numerous steep and rocky descents which
spelled the end of many of the favorite's' races. Even Switzerland's Christoph
Sauser, the reigning world champion, had to concede the race to his 22-year-old
team-mate Nino Schurter, who took the bronze. Absalon says that Schurter
will be the rider to beat in London in four years' time.
Spitz dominates her way to gold
Photo ©: AFP
Sabine Spitz of Germany fulfilled her dream of an Olympic gold medal
by dominating the field early on. Silver went to Polish rider Maja Wloszczowska
and Irina Kalentyeva (Russia) scored the bronze medal. The best Chinese
rider was Chengyuan Ren in fifth place. She was 2'29 back.
The race in the unforgiving Beijing heat on a very technical course saw
some of the pre-race favorites drop out early. Margarita Fullana (Spain),
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Norway) and Marie-Helene Premont (Canada) all
were not able to finish the race.
Spitz had a good start and was at the front together with Fullana and
Wloszczowska. Only a half lap (of six) into the race Spitz put in a very
strong move. She completed the first lap 4.3-kilometre lap in 16'51, 21
seconds faster than her closest competitors.
From there Spitz kept pulling away until she held a commanding lead of
around 50 seconds until the end, giving her an extremely gratifying win.
"I felt pure joy that I had finally achieved this goal after so many years
of hard work. Winning the gold medal at the Olympics is the crowning glory
of a career."
"Almost from the beginning I was able to be at the front and set the
speed of the race. This meant that I was able to set my own rhythm, and
ride my own race."
Click here to see Cyclingnews' full coverage of the men's
Olympic MTB cross-country races.
Canberra World Cup should be showcase for Aussie riders
Sam Hill at Worlds
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Two time world downhill champion Sam Hill, Olympian Jared Graves and
Australian 4X champion Caroline Buchanan spearhead the local challenge
when World Cup mountain bike racing heads Down Under to Canberra’s Mt
Stromlo Forest Park this weekend (August 30-31).
Over 80 Australians and a world class international contingent of over
200 will contest the three mountain bike disciplines: downhill, X-Country
and 4X, in the penultimate round of the UCI World Cup.
The event is the first time MT Stromlo has staged a World Cup round,
with Canberra’s cool climate and technical reconfigured courses bound
to test the skills and skins of athletes. The event also offers Australian
stars the chance to shine at home, at the venue which also hosts next
year’s UCI Mountain Bike World Championships (September 1-6,2009).
However if two time world downhill champion, and the current World Cup
frontrunner , Aussie Sam Hill was looking for some assistance from the
course designers – he will be disappointed. The Perth rider confessed
today the 2.3km course, with its flatter lower sections would favor the
power pedallers, including Aussie rivals Nathan Rennie and Chris Kovarik,
and internationals Steve Peat (GBR) and Greg Minnaar (RSA).
“It’s going to be pretty difficult, because there’s a lot of pedaling
and it’s a smaller mountain than I’m used to,” said 23 year old Hill about
the 2.3 kilometer downhill course. “It’s not going to be as easy to generate
speed, so it will favor the powerful peddlers who can carry their speed
and momentum into the lowers section of the course. “However I’m going
to give it my best shot,” added Hill, who missed out on a world title
hat-trick after crashing in Italy.
Hill’s track record on this layout is also not great, with the 23-year-old
crashing the last time he raced at the venue for the Australian Championships
in 2007. He will also need all his renown ‘line’ reading skills to hold
off, Britain’s Gee Atherton, who is looking to add the World Cup trophy
to his newly acquired World Championship title. Only 128 points separate
the two on the World Cup point score with a maximum of 500 points on offer
over the final two rounds.
Canada's Geoff Kabush got the holeshot
at the Olympics
Photo ©: Rob Jones
In the 4X Aussie Olympic BMX aces Jared Graves and Luke Madill will be
looking for redemption when they line up for their first outing post Beijing
at the World Cup 4X on Saturday night.
26-year-old Graves finished 6th in Beijing after being taken out in the
final, but is back in the saddle for the 4X, as is Sydney’s Madill whose
Olympic campaign ended in the quarter stages . Although not in the hunt
for the World Cup title, Aussie 4X champion Madill and Graves will be
eager to disrupt the ambitions of others. Their main opposition will come
from Spanish World Champion Rafael Alvarez De Lara Lucas, who also heads
the World Cup standings, Germany’s creative Guido Tschugg and perennial
American Brian Lopes – who boasts six World Cup titles and four World
The women’s 4X race will be no less hotly contested with Aussies Olympian
Tania Bailey (BMX) and current champion Carolyn Buchan eager to stamp
their authority on the course ahead of next year’s World Championships
also at Stromlo. Buchanan lies seventh in the standings behind Dutchwoman
In the cross-country races, all eyes will be watching the ever popular
Geoff Kabush (Can) with his trade mark sideburns and Olympic Bronze medallist
and under 23 World Champion Nino Schurter. The technical nature of Stromlo
should also provide New Zealander Kashi Leuchs with his chance to shine
on the world stage in the men’s X-Country event.
Check back on Cyclingnews for full coverage from the MTB World
Cup in Canberra.
Inside Canberra's grueling course
Drop in and see me some time.
The final round of the World Cup mountain bike series will be held in
Australia on August 30 and 31 on the same courses as the 2009 world championships.
Bikeradar's John Stevenson looks at what's in store for the world's
top riders Down Under.
The Olympic cross-country mountain bike course was made more technical
when test events revealed it to be a bit too easy. That's not likely to
happen with the 2009 world championships course at Mt Stromlo, Canberra,
Australia. It's already hard enough that top local rider Ben Henderson
thinks some sections will have a significant proportion of the field walking
at the final round of the mountain bike world cup, August 30-31.
"The downhillers say that this bit is harder than anything on the downhill
course," Henderson told us before piloting his Mongoose hardtail down
a pair of treacherous, ultra-steep rock slabs that are made even more
interesting by the surrounding rocks, bushes and brambles. They're not
a comfortable landing zone if you stuff up.
Henderson showed us round the cross-country course on a sunny but cool
afternoon that was typical of the weather riders can expect for next weekend.
We basked in the winter sunshine, but reached for armwarmers and gilets
when clouds covered the sun.
Downhill rock slabs aren't the only problem lurking in wait for the cross-country
riders at Mt Stromlo. There's a 'b' line round that section - though it's
not exactly easy - and there are several similar uphill sections.
Riders hit the singletrack - dubbed Cardiac Climb - after a section of
fire road. As it twists and turns up Mt Stromlo they're presented with
several steep, technical hairpins. Nestled in a few of them are even steeper,
more technical sections that will save riders a few seconds - if they
can ride them. Going the long way round will be safer but slower.
It's only about a kilometer long in total but Cardiac Climb is expected
to be the crux section of the cross-country course. Whoever gets up it
first will have a significant advantage and repeated ascents will wear
riders down over the six laps of the men's race.
To read the full course preview, click
Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå forced to pass on Canberra
Dahle-Flesjaa winning the Madrid
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
One week after the Olympic games have come to an end, mountain bike racers
will now gather in Canberra, Australia for another World cup race.
Norway’s Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå announced this week that she has
decided to pass on competing; she had crashed repeatedly while practicing
on the Olympic race course and obviously had suffered worse injuries than
diagnosed on site.
World Champion says that severe bruises on her hip, ribs and even
face still cause too much pain to be competitive in Canberra.
"I had a hard time getting any sleep the last few nights because
of all the pain, so before I return to competing I first need to recover
from my injuries completely" Dahle said.
Dahle says she will instead fly to Germany for Friedrichshafen’s Eurobike
trade show where she will represent the "Multivan Merida Biking Team."
TransWales ends with closest GC battles in its history
After seven days and 550 kilometers riding with 15,500 meters of climbing,
Frans Claes (Connections Granville) and Fiona Spotswood (Ironhorse Extreme)
have claimed the open solo categories in the 2008 Merida Bikes TransWales
The final linking stage took riders from beautiful Strata Florida with
its ancient abbey back home to Builth Wells, some 84km and 2500m of climbing
away and in the end, the TransWales saw the closest racing in the event's
history: in many categories, racers had been swapping the lead in the
general classification all week with no one clear superpower dominating.
With the final special stage yesterday again seeing fresh winners in some
categories, it made for a suitably climactic finish to the event and all
was finally revealed in Builth Wells.
After more than 45 hours of total riding, Claes finished just 23-seconds
ahead of second place rider Ewan Thorburn (Fat Tread Bikes) and 43-seconds
ahead of Ryan Bevies (RAM Bikes). In the women's solo open category, Spotswood
finished 2:13 ahead of Katrina Brown (Deeside Total Endurance) and 39:34
in front of Amy Baron-Hall (trio25.blogspot.com).
For full reports and results from the 2008 TransWales, click
Epic battles expected at 11,000-foot NMBS Finals
By Dave McElwaine
Katerina Nash (Luna Women's MTB)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
The U.S.A. National Mountain Bike Series Finals (NMBS) will be held this
weekend on the rugged slopes of Brian Head, Utah in the Wasatch Mountains.
Series titles will be awarded in Cross Country, Downhill, and Dual Slalom
Most of the top racers in North America will be in attendance including
Olympians (and series leaders) Geoff Kabush (Maxxis) and Georgia
Gould (Luna Woman's MTB). Both will be flying halfway around the world
from Beijing to nail down NMBS cross country titles. Neither have been
racing at altitude since the World
Championships in Val di Sole, Italy so the thin air at Brian Head
could be a challenge. Gould finished 8th in her
Olympic race while Kabush finished 20th.
The rest of the North American Mountain Bike Olympians will be heading
directly from Beijing to the World Cup Race in Canberra, Australia. This
includes Catherine Pendrel (Luna Women's MTB), who finished 4th in the
Olympics (which was the best result for any North American). The absence
of these riders opens the door for other racers to shine at Brian Head.
Some racers who will be competing this weekend have raced in The Great
American Stage Race this past weekend in and around Brian Head. While
racing 170 miles in fours days may not seem to be good preparation for
the series finale, a couple factors may work in their favor. Firstly,
they may have had enough time to acclimate somewhat to the high altitude.
Secondly, the last stage was exactly the same course as the NMBS cross
country circuit. These racers will have the course dialed in.
Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Subaru), Jeremiah Bishop (Trek/VW),
Ryan Trebon (Kona), Heather Irmiger (Gary Fisher/Subaru), Pua Sawicki
(Ellsworth), Lea Davision (Trek/VW), and Jenny Smith (Trek/VW) have all
competed in the stage race.
For the full preview of the 2008 US National Mountain Bike Series Finals,
National Ultra Endurance Series stops in Virginia
by Harlan Price
The 10th annual Shenandoah Mountain 100 fires off this weekend with
a field of gunners looking to bring down another 100 miler course record.
2008 has been the year of course record deaths with the fastest times
ever for many events including the Wilderness
101 last month and the Fools Gold 100 and Leadville 100 this month.
Shenandoah 100 race promoter Chris Scott has a record size field of 500
riders coming to his Shenandoah Valley venue outside of Harrisonburg,
VA this Saturday for a weekend of camping eating and racing at the private
Jeff Schalk at the Wilderness 101
Photo ©: Chris Scott
A strong favorite in the men's field is NUE series leader and last years
winner and course record holder, Jeff Schalk (Trek VW East Coast Regional).
His 2007 race against Floyd Landis pushed him to new heights and it will
be doubtful that he will be able to break his own time of 7:05:25. The
men looking to take Schalk and his time down are deep with the determination
of racers such as Chris Eatough (Trek VW Factory), Sam Koerber (Gary Fisher
29) and Chris Beck (Gary Fisher 29er) on the short list, while past pros
such as Paul Brushetta and Charlie Storm will be looking to replay some
glory days. Look for some roadies to fill in the gaps, while trying to
figure out what all the hollering is about over these 100 mile sufferfests.
Not in attendance will be series contenders Christian Tanguy (American
Cycling and Fitness) and Harlan Price (IFracing.org) who is still recovering
from a fractured wrist. Jeremiah Bishop (Trek VW) will be in Utah racing
the NMBS series final, escaping a much anticipated rematch with Schalk
after Schalk DNF'd at the Fools Gold.
As is traditionally the case for a Chris Scott production, the women's
race will see one of the biggest fields due to his policy of equal payouts
for top riders in the men's and women's fields. Fresh to form like a new
sports car off the lot, Trish Stevenson (IFracing.org) is looking to back
up her Fools Gold 100 win last week. Though she was looking strong while
taking down two of the leading ladies in the series at that race, it's
a new day for everyone and she'll have to work hard to defend against
the NUE series leader Cheryl Sornson (Trek VW East Coast), Betsy Shogren
(Sobe Cannondale) and recent TransRockies
finisher Michelle Stopper (Visit PA).
Last year Sue Haywood (Trek VW) blazed the course with a new women's
record time and set the challenge high. Due to an injury at the national
championships in Vermont, the local Haywood will be on the sidelines yelling
words of encouragement to the 30 plus women duking it out.
Gunner Shogren (Sobe Cannondale) doesn't seem satisfied with a couple
of decades of racing success and now has his eyes set on a NUE series
single speed championship. He'll have to contend with a West Virginia
posse of skilled riders like, Chris McGill and Benji Klimas in the run
to the finish and for the beer pint glasses given to each finisher.
For the 50+ men this will be another chance for the locomotives Greg
Turner and Scott Root to collide. Though Turner has consistently churned
the engines for dominant winning times, the day for Root might be this
weekend. Perhaps paving the way for these stately elders of speed is John
Majors, 2006 and 2007 series winner, who will be dicing it up as well.
Up next is the series final in Tahoe CA, at the Tahoe-Sierra 100 on Sept
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews.com for full results, photos and race
report from the Shenandoah Mountain 100 or go to www.usmtb100.com for
Tour of the White Mountains opens new trails for 2008
The 2008 Show Low Bluff Tour of the White Mountains (in Northern Arizona,
USA) presented by Cellular One is in its 13th year, but in some ways it’s
a brand new event. The endurance mountain biking event, which will be
held Saturday, Oct. 4, still will be on trails in the Apache-Sitgreaves
National Forest located near Pinetop-Lakeside, AZ, but some of those trails
Promoter Todd Sadow says that the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest and
TRACKS, the local trail construction and advocacy club, have worked hard
to rehab existing trails and build the new trails that exemplify the best
of Northern Arizona riding, with climbs, fun and challenging, groovy singletrack,
and of course spectacular mountain scenery.
The Tour of the White Mountains include 60, 30 and 15-mile MTB endurance
options. For more information, see www.epicrides.com/towm/towm.htm.
Inaugural Nelson's Creek MTB Festival set for Sep 13/14
First-year event, the Nelson’s Creek MTB Festival at Nelson Wine Estate
near Paarl in South Africa, is offering 500 riders a full weekend of riding
and activities September 13th and 14th.
The options start with a three-day MTB stage race which provide advanced
riders with the chance to start training for longer races on the cycling
calendar, like the Coronation Double Century held around Swellendam later
this year and next year’s stage race season with events like the Cape
Epic. The stage-race weekend will also include amenities (sports massage
therapists will be on hand at the end of stages 1 and 2) and R10,00 in
prize moeny. The stage race is limited to 500 racers.
Less ambitious riders will have the chance to compete a seven-kilometre
Friday night race as well as 15, 30 and 50 kilometer events run while
the stage racers are out on course. Camping for the whole family
Alan Nelson, owner of Nelson Wine Estate which has been in existence
since 1692, has made 700 camping sites available on his farm, with the
much-needed “luxuries” of flush toilets and hot showers. For more information
or to enter, visit www.mtbfestival.co.za.
River's Edge to host US Southeast Marathon Championships
Charlotte Sports Cycling announced this week that they have teamed up
with the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC to host the Widmer
Brothers Rivers Edge Mountain Bike Marathon. The 50-mile mountain bike
race on Sunday, September 7 will serve as the USA Cycling's Southeast
The 50 mile race will consist of six 8.4 mile laps of tough singletrack.
The course terrain at the US National Whitewater Center is rolling with
three tough climbs gaining approximately 750 feet per lap. Neutral food
and mechanic support for all racers will be provided and 12 championship
categories will be contested.
The event will be held at the US National Whitewater Center. Not only
is the USNWC an awesome place to mountain bike, it's a great place to
bring the whole family. There is lots to do at the Park including, whitewater
rafting, climbing(one of the largest outdoor climbing facilities in the
U.S.), high ropes, and hopefully they will have their new four person
zip line open by the time of the event. For more information on the Rivers
Edge Mountain Bike Marathon, visit www.charlottemtnbike.com.
A late start and a new beginning; The Barbara Howe diary
Riding in the mountains.
Photo ©: Barbara Howe
For the past several months, I've been trying to write a diary to update
everyone on the condition of my injury. I've written several and liked
none of them. Here I am almost eight months later finally writing a diary
I like and I think it happened because I'm finally putting a number on
again and racing.
I was quite nervous about my first race back for several reasons, the
least of them being that my last race was eight months ago. It was going
to be hot in Napa, there's tons of poison oak in the area and I wasn't
sure how my ankle was going to take to a long hot race. I've put in several
long hot mountain bikes rides in the mountains over the summer but they
all somehow involved taking long mid-ride breaks and swimming in rivers.
My teammate Shannon Edson took the hole shot – trying to keep up with
her put me in a world of hurt as I haven't gone that hard in a very long
time. I was very impressed by the single speeder who put the hurt on me
for part of the first lap. I finally caught her on a steep climb.
For the full Barbara Howe diary, click
In the Beijing pits
Cyclingnews staff scoured the pits at the Beijing MTB event and sent
back photos and details of some of a handful of the machines in use there.
A look at Geoff Kabush's race machine
Canada's Geoff Kabush
Photo ©: Christopher Warrick
Canada's Geoff Kabush (who currently sits third in the UCI World Cup
series) will take a straightforward approach to his Olympic equipment
with a Litespeed Ocoee titanium hardtail that we expect to perform well
on Beijing's relatively non-technical course.
Kabush's 1.48kg (3.26lb, estimated) frame is outfitted with a pair of
Stan's ZTR Race wheels wrapped in Maxxis rubber (converted to tubeless
with Stan's NoTubes sealant), Magura's upcoming ultralight Marta SL Magnesium
hydraulic disc brakes (with Stan's coated aluminum rotors), ubiquitous
Egg Beater 4Ti pedals from Crankbrothers and fi'zi:k's new carbon-railed
Tundra saddle with a custom red-and-white cover.
The rest of the bike is completed with a Shimano XTR transmission, Fox
Racing Shox F100 RLC fork (with remote lockout), Chris King NoThreadset
and FSA's K-Force carbon riser bar, K-Force carbon seatpost and OS-115
aluminum stem. Finishing out the color-coordinated look is Jagwire housing,
a Cateye computer and a ceramic-enhanced bottom bracket and derailleur
pulleys, all in matching red.
Team officials weren't exactly forthcoming with a total bike weight but
the build kit suggests that it's certainly light enough.
Seven Cycles launches Olympic-edition Sola
Seven Cycles will offer
Seven Cycles has unveiled a special edition of its Sola hardtail to celebrate
the Olympic return of its star rider, Mary McConneloug (United States).
The so-called Sola Gold augments the standard Sola's all-Argen butted
titanium tubeset with a smattering of the company's ultralight Cirrus
Ultra-Butted pipes. The Sola Gold drops about 50g (0.1lb) in the process
to yield a total average weight of just 1.45kg (3.2lb).
Based on previous set-ups, we're guessing McConneloug's rig will be set
up with an 80mm-travel fork but Seven will build the Sola Gold for consumers
to accommodate anything from 80-120mm and with disc and/or rim brake mounts.
For more MTB tech from Beijing, click
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