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MTB news & racing round-up for January 3, 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

Wake-n-Bake elite team launched

By Sue George

Rebecca Tomaszewski (BeaverHook Hills) on her way to a win at the 2007 Wilderness 101
Photo ©: Wes Cheney
(Click for larger image)

A new elite team is emerging out of the Athens, Georgia area. Team Wake-n-Bake will feature four racers and serve as an often-overlooked kind of team where those competing in between club and pro team levels can excel. The team's namesake, Wake-n-Bake, is a winter brew for primary sponsor Terrapin Beer. Perhaps appropriately for a bunch of mountain bikers, the beer is an oatmeal stout brewed with Jittery Joe's coffee.

"My goal is to get these riders some exposure," said Team Director Mike Stanley to Cyclingnews. "I'd like to see one of these riders get picked up by a big team."

"[Rider] Nicolas [Dale] pulled me aside and said we need a team. I own a home audio company and started setting money aside," said Stanley, who has sometimes traded home audio work for sponsorship help for his riders.

"I saw a void. There was no one out there having a minor-league like team for mountain biking," said Stanley. "There are the big-name teams and clubs. I went to Interbike and pitched my idea." Support for his team is growing with local and national companies coming onboard - something for which Stanley is quick to express gratitude.

Rebecca Tomaszewski is one of the team's top riders. The winner of the Wilderness 101 and the Cowbell Challenge is well known for her singlespeed rigid-fork riding talent. She finished fifth at the Singlespeed World Championships and will take on many of the NUE series races this coming year.

On the shorter cross country side, Nicolas Dale finished fourth overall in the 2007 National Mountain Bike Series 19-29 year-old category. The 26 year-old semi-pro also took third at the NMBS finals for Expert Men 25-29 in Snowmass, Colorado, in August 2007.

Maria Carrelli has spent two years racing as an expert and is a current and two-time Georgia State singlespeed champion. The 29 year-old is going for three in a row for 2008. Her other top finishes have come in the Six hours of Conyers, the Stump Jump, the Georgia State Cup, and the NMBS round at Sugar Mountain.

39 year-old "Wild Bill" Lanzilotta used to race gravity events with Greg Herbold in the 1990s, but a crash and punctured lung put an end to his racing career for awhile. Now a University of Georgia professor, Wild Bill finished on the podium in the overall category in the Southeastern Series the last three years running and will serve as "Team Captain".

The team will be easy to spot with their orange Niner bikes decked out with green Industry Nine wheels.

Team Wake-n-Bake for 2008: Maria Carelli, Nicolas Dale, William "Wild Bill" Lanzilotta, Rebecca Tomaszewski.

Fullana signs new contract

Last Friday, Mallorcan racer Marga Fullana signed a contract to race for the next two years. She will race for Massi-Illes Balears with the support of equipment manufacturer Massi and the government of the Illes Balaers.

"It is not only a sports agreement, but it is something more," said Fullana.

The two-time World Champion (1997 & 1999) likened her new support to that of a family and expressed her hopefulness for the upcoming Olympic year. Fullana won a bronze medal in the Olympic mountain bike race in Sydney, Australia, in 2000. She was ranked 13th in the UCI World Rankings as of the end of 2007.

Mountain bikers fare well in annual Canadian cycling awards

Marie-Helene Premont
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Quebec's Marie-Helene Premont was chosen as top Female Canadian Cyclist of the Year for 2007 by CanadianCyclist.com. Premont, who finished second in the season-long World Cup and was ranked fifth overall in the world, won the vote with nearly 53% of first place votes. She finished ahead of Pan Am Games mountain bike gold medallist Catharine Pendrel and National Road Race Champion Gina Grain (18%).

Geoff Kabush ended the men's rankings second behind road racer Svein Tuft, who captured nearly 60% of first place votes. Kabush collected 22% of the vote ahead of Dominique Rollin (11%).

New Zealand's South Island Series to stop at Coronet Peak

200 riders are expected to gather at the purpose-built Coronet Peak Bike Park January 4-6 for a round of the Subaru South Island Downhill Cup which will see experienced riders hurtle down the 1.6km of singletrack. Then, on January 5-6, cross country riders get their chance for a round of the NZCT South Island Cross Country Cup.

These two events, formerly part of the New Zealand's MTB National Series, are the precursor to the NZCT New Zealand National Championships.

Downhillers Sam Blenkinsop, Scarlett Hagen, Kieran Bennett and Nathan Rankin will be on hand. All have represented New Zealand at World Cup and World Championship events.

On the cross country side, confirmed competitors include up and coming juniors Alex McGregor and Samara Sheppard. The talented New Zealanders took part in the World Championships in Fort William, Scotland, in September 2007. They will be joined by international riders like Helene Valerie Fruhwirth from Austria.

Kessiakoff to lead international contingent at Sunshine Cup

Fredrik Kessiakoff (Cannondale-Vredestein)
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

World Cup cross country race winner Fredrik Kessiakoff is already signed up for the Sunshine Cup coming up in Cyprus. The Swede is among riders from nine nations on the start list with over a month to go until the series begins.

For the Swedish national team, the trip to race in Cyprus is not its first one. In 2007, Kessiakoff won Sunshine Cup Round #2. This year, he'll be beginning his preparation for the Olympic Games.

Led by Jaroslav Kulhavy and Tereza Hurikova, the Czech team will also head to Cyprus. Kulhavy won the Race under the Sun and took second in the Afxentia Stage Race in 2007. He went on to finish ninth in the World Cup at Champery, Switzerland - his best result ever.

Riders from Italy, Ireland, Belgium, Great Britain, Hungary, Germany and Poland will be on hand to battle for UCI C1 points. Top riders will benefit from Cyprus' recent joining (as of January 1) to the Euro zone, which means prize money will now be paid in Euros.

For more information on the Sunshine Cup for 2008, visit www.mtbcyprus.com.

Sunshine Cup 2008 Schedule
February 23: Tochni Village (XCP)
February 29: Mantra-Kionia-Mantra (XCP)
March 2: Mantra tou kampiou (XCO)
March 9: Limassol-Yermasogia (XCO)
March 16: Voroklini (XCP)

Coloma to lead ECP-Tau Ceramica team

Carlos Coloma will lead the ECP-Tau Ceramica mountain bike team for 2008. He'll be targeting the European and World Championships as well as the Beijing Olympic Games as a member of the Spanish team.

The team boasts no new riders; instead Coloma will continue to have the company of Marc Trayter, U23 racer Oliver Avilés and junior Umbert Almenara. The team, which hopes to balance the aspirations of experienced riders like Coloma with the needs of up and coming riders, will ride Massi bicycles in 2008.

Look for the squad at the most important races in Spain including the Spanish Cup, International Catalan Cup, and Superprestige MASSI as well as the Swiss Power Cups.

ECP-Tau Ceramica team for 2008: Umbert Almenara, Oliver Avilés, Carlos Coloma and Marc Trayter.

Test of Metal sells out

Registrants from as far away as the United Kingdom., Yukon Territory, Virginia, Oregon, Ontario, Manitoba, Hawaii, and California raced for the 800 available spots for this year's 12th Test of Metal selling it out by 8:01 pm, just two hours after opening.

"I think that the modification of our registration process helped relieve some of the pressure of last year," said Race Director Cliff Miller, referring to the 41 minute record sell-out for the 2007 event. "We'll never have a spot for everyone, but this seems to be a fair way to go. We've got our 1,000 riders registered and now they can begin their training." Based on past experience, Miller is expecting a 20% attrition race before the event even starts.

The changes in this year's registration included 200 race spots offered in a "locals only" registration on December 1 and the elimination of the waiting list. The locals only registration sold out in just over two hours.

Profits from this year's events will go toward hiring a professional trail co-ordinator. "The impact of this race on our trails is significant and we need have a responsibility to ensure not only that the race course in good shape," said Miller, "but also that Squamish's valuable recreational resource, the mountain bike trails, is maintained."

Entries to the race are still available for those who participate in Test of Metal trail maintenance days.

Dirt Sweat & Gears adds to fight against cancer and for equal prize money

Pua Sawicki (Ergon/Ellsworth) took a solid win in 2007
Photo ©: Will Thomas
(Click for larger image)

In addition to supporting trail advocacy for the Southern Off Road Bicycle Alliance (SORBA) and IMBA, the Dirt Sweat and Gears (DSG) race will benefit the American Cancer Society.

"This year the American Cancer Society will benefit from your DSG race participation," said Mark Cleveland, a partner in DSG. "It's all about life and how you live it, but it's also about how we come together to support people in need. The battle against this disease hits close to home for many of us."

In the days before the inaugural race in 2007, Cleveland's wife Sheila was diagnosed with breast cancer. She recently completed her last round of chemotherapy treatment. "My partners at DSG recognize the great work done by The American Cancer Society and we support their effort to Celebrate, Remember, and Fight Back."

DSG has made an effort to reach out to its women's racers. The second-year USA Cycling Ultra-Endurance Calendar event will offer men and women equal prize money of more than US$10,000.

Women already signed on to attend include Rebecca Rusch (Specialized Bicycles), Namrita O'Dea (Vassago Bicycles), Carey Lowery (Outdoor Store), Danielle Musto (Titus/Maxxis), and reigning race champion Monique "Pua" Sawicki (Ellsworth Bicycles).

Race Director Clay Higgins offered support for the recent work of Georgia Gould (Luna) to petition the UCI for equal prize money for top places for men and women. "We think it is critical that both male and female elite athletes are compensated equally, and if we can continue to do just that at our event, we see no reason that this should not become the norm in cycling," said Higgins.

O'Dea Diary: To Georgia, Michigan & Florida

Eddie O'Dea riding
Photo ©: Namrita O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

The racing for us really ended in September with both Eddie and I taking the solo wins at the 12 hours of Dauset, a Gone Riding event in Jackson, Georgia. After that, we spent October chillin' with friends, going to beer festivals, riding for short instead of long hours, and getting some work done. October really picked up with business for Eddie, and with school for me. The month ended with a fantastic mountain bike trip at R-Ranch in the Mountains of Dahlonega, Georgia.

Eddie rented a cabin to celebrate my 31st birthday and our one-year anniversary. We got married in Dahlonega in October 2006, so it was a great place to go celebrate! R-Ranch is known to be a landmark on the Six-Gap-Century route, and has a lot of acreage with cabins, camping, and trails. The trails are all on private land, so you must be a resident to ride...and these really are some of the best trails we've ridden in Georgia! It had everything...doubletrack, tight singletrack, steep ups and downs, swooping trails, rocks, and tons of roots. Our cabin was on a private lake, so the dogs had a blast, too. We didn't bring the road bikes this time, but there are miles and miles of gorgeous road riding right out of the place.

Eddie and Namrita in Florida
Photo ©: Eddie O'Dea
(Click for larger image)

In November, we started our strength training plan, i.e. gettin' huge in the gym. The plan is an accumulation of advice from racer friends and books. It started out with four days per week in the gym with very little riding. I haven't been in the gym since 2003, so this has been interesting. Normally we do our strength work on the bike during the winter and spring, but we thought we'd give this a try.

My goals are to push a taller gear on my singlespeed next year with the same effort; Eddie's goal is to rip legs off. But, it is a good experiment as Eddie needs to understand the pros and cons of strength training on the bike and in the gym versus just on the bike, for those racers he coaches, too. I present an interesting challenge to him as a coaching client because I only ride and race singlespeed off road. And, I don't like riding on the road very much.

To read the complete diary entry, click here.

Montana mountain bikers unite to defend trail access

In response to threats to trail access across the state, Montana mountain bikers united to form a group called the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance (MMBA) to represent their interests. The group, formed in November, is now working directly with the Forest Service and other user groups as it revises forest plans.

"There's been a real hard push in the last little while to remove bicyclists from a lot of trails," said one of the group's founders Corey Biggers to the Billings Gazette. "We're trying to have a voice for the whole state." Several areas have been proposed for future Wilderness Study Areas, and because trails in Wilderness Areas are not open to bicycle use, Montana riders would lose access to existing riding trails in any newly designated Wilderness Areas.

Biggers commented that mountain bikers had not previously been well organized in Montana. "Our goal is to get bikers politically motivated and off the proverbial couch," added Bob Allen, another founder. The group aims to balance land preservation with continued recreational trail access for cyclists and other users.

Trails under threat of closure to mountain bike are in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest and the Gallatin National Forest and form part of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

For more information, visit www.montanamountainbikealliance.com.

Winter downhilling returns to Pennsylvania

While many riders in Pennsylvania will be busy working up the nerve to head out and ride in the winter cold, a few brave souls will be racing the eighth annual winter downhill race at Blue Mountain Ski Area in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, on January 5 at 10:30 am local time. Four racers per heat will compete mountain cross style reaching speeds of up to 50mph.

"I haven't done it and I don't think I would do it," said Jason Boris, the Race Coordinate to the Pocono Record after last year's event. "You have to have a lot of craziness."

For more information, contact Boris at 570-668-2919.

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