MTB news & racing round-up for January 9, 2008
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Edited by Sue George
Baja Epic adds to growing stage race calendar
By Sue George
Tinker Juarez is one rider already
committed for the inaugural Baja Epic
Photo ©: Rob Jones
Adding to the growing trend of multi-day endurance mountain bike races
is a new event in Baja, Mexico, slated for November 5-8, 2008. The Baja
Epic, covering 300 miles and 24,000 feet of climbing, will visit varied
terrain including beaches, deserts, forests and mountains and be put on
by Too Much Fun productions, a company which was started by Mexican Armando
Carrasco and American Rob Quinn in the 1980s.
"Armando and I were partners in the 80s and 90s," said the
48 year-old Quinn to Cyclingnews. "We created an event called
the Montaña Grande [which ran from 1986 to 2003 - ed.] back in
the day when lots of people were racing [Olympic distance, single day]
cross country events. At a certain point, I moved to Colorado for a business
opportunity and because I love to ski." Quinn has been a Vice President
/ General Manager for a number of Spanish Speaking radio stations and
now is president of Spectrum marketing.
"Armando kept Too Much Fun going, but he gravitated toward motocross
events because he's a motocross [and BMX] champion and in part because
people in southern California have no place to ride their motocross bikes."
A factor in the demise Montaña Grande was dwindling mountain bike
cross country attendance.
Since Quinn moved back to Colorado, he found himself back into mountain
bike racing - balancing it with business and family responsibilities.
He did well in the state series as a master and Clydesdale racer and stepped
up to racing at La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica in 2003, where
he finished 11th in the 40+ men's category.
The experience inspired him to talk to Carrasco about the idea of a mountain
bike stage race in Baja. "At that point, I came back to Armando and
said, 'This is where it's going,'" referring to the emerging trend
toward multi-day mountain bike racing.
When asked to comment on the seemingly insatiable demand for endurance
racing, Quinn said, "I just think of myself. I'm not a pro. After
20 years of training and riding, it's not worth it for me to drive four
hours to race for 1.5 hours. Stage races work best. And now everyone is
so fit and the equipment is so good and people are better riders. As total
citizen schmo, it's cool to line up with Andreas Hestler or Tinker Juarez.
It's neat to be in same area even if it's only for two minutes at the
start. You get to ride the same course as those guys. It gives a good
sense of accomplishment for business people and those with families."
This November, Quinn was back at La Ruta, this time handing out information
about the new race. "I introduced the idea of the race to people
and the reception was overwhelming."
"Unlike US where everything is touchy with regard to zoning, forests,
etc. [for promoting a race], Mexico is more like Costa Rica. With tourism
department's blessing you can run a race."
Leaders start final stage at La
Ruta de los Conquistadores
Photo ©: Rob Jones
"You would never do this ride this by yourself. You're in a foreign
country. You wouldn't get off plane in Guatemala City and just go ride
around in the mountains you saw," Quinn was alluding to issues regarding
both personal security and lack of local knowledge.
"I was lucky to get to go down there and see the country like many
never get to do," said Quinn of his years working and living in Mexico.
"I was always surrounded by Mexican nationals so I got to see more.
I want to turn other people on to what I saw. The Pacific Coast is so
ragged with cliffs and it's gorgeous. Inland, the mountains are pretty."
The Baja Epic is set to be a very different experience than La Ruta.
"At La Ruta, I woke up, stared at my front wheel for eight hours,
then went to sleep. Our goal is to have everyone off bikes by 1:00 or
2:00 pm with a little juice left so they can also experience the cities.
Sure there will be a few sand washes, but you won't have to get off your
"I can think of nothing better than giving it a few hard hours on
the bike and knocking around coastal cities after. It will be about 50-70%
wattage of what La Ruta takes - La Ruta is still king. I'll be back there
in 2010 when I'm 50. I think there's a nice balance between a good four
to five hour push and going out and having some margaritas and being a
November is the most temperate month in Baja typically brings 70 degree
(Fahrenheit) weather and sunshine, but snow is possible at higher elevations
like at Mike's Sky Ranch. "We thought [the dates] would fit well
into the calendar. Everything worked well weather-wise for spring and
fall, but we wanted to have enough time to plan," said Quinn.
Signed up so far is long-time pro Tinker Juarez, and Quinn said the Trek
and Luna teams had also expressed some interest. Legend Hans Rey will
be a celebrity starter.
Baja Epic for 2008: November 5-8
Stage 1: Rosarito Beach to Tecate, 60 mi (6000ft)
Stage 2: Tecate to Ensenada, 80 mi (6000 ft)
Stage 3: Valle de la Trinidad to Mike's Sky Ranch, 60 mi (8000 ft)
Stage 4: Ensenada to Rosarito, 60 mi (4000 ft)
For more info on the Baja Epic, visit www.bajaepic.com
Killeen shows early season form
MTB star Liam Killeen finally gets
Photo ©: Andrew Kennedy
After a second place finish behind Roger Hammond (Team High Road) at
the British cyclo-cross
national championships this weekend, mountain biker Liam Killeen has
just one goal in mind: to make the Olympic Games.
"Obviously to come second in the sprint is a bit frustrating, but
I was pleased with how the race went," said Killeen to the Worcester
News. "I felt strong and it took me a couple of laps to work
my way to the front, but once I was there, I felt quite comfortable."
Althought Sutton Park is one of his favorite races, he continued, "Roger
is a super sprinter and it was always going to be a tough task - there's
always next year. I only do a handful of 'cross races each season, but
the National Championships were a goal of mine."
With 'cross nationals in the books, the Team Specialized Factory Racing
member will focus on making the British Olympic Team. His other career
goal is to win a World Championship according to his website www.liamkilleen.com.
Killeen finished 44th at the Worlds in Fort William in September, but
the rider was just making his return to competition after battling a virus
for much of the season.
Cyclingnews reader poll - Best mountain biker racers
The figures are in and the bean counters have done there thing, which
means we can now take the covers off who you, the supporters of Cyclingnews.com,
voted as 2007's best male
mountain biker and female
The victors in each of this year's categories both won with a commanding
margin, but we won't spoil it for you here; for results from this year's
polls click here.
Thank you to all who voted, and look for the winner of the Zipp carbon
fibre goodies: the 570g VumaQuad crankset, the SLC2 handlebars and Zipp's
145 stem, to be announced at the week's end.
Olympic MTB selection one step closer
By Sue George
Mountain bikers will now fight
for their nation's Olympic slots
Photo ©: Mark Gunter
The UCI's national rankings which determine starting spots for each nation
at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, were released on Thursday.
The numbers, which were compiled from mountain bike races between January
1, 2006, and December 31, 2007 placed France and China atop the men's
and women's rankings, respectively.
The overall scores were determined by adding each nation's final 2007
ranking to its 2006 ranking. A nation's ranking for any given season was
the result of adding together the point totals of its top-three athletes
in individual rankings. The teams within the top five of the men's rankings
get to send three men to Beijing while the top eight women's teams are
allowed to send two women each to Beijing.
Look for three men to represent France (7864 points), Switzerland (7349
points), Spain (5472 points), Belgium (4364 points) and Germany (4353
points). The United States will not be among the teams sending three men.
Due to its sixth-placed ranking (4224 points), it will send only two men.
On the women's side, The People's Republic of China came out at the top
- it will send two women based on its ranking (7236 points) to the Olympic
Games held on home turf. Other teams eligible to send two women will include
Germany (6346 points), the United States (6193 points), Canada (6182 points),
Norway (4957 points), Poland (4849 points), Russia (4576 points) and Switzerland
Other nations are not out of the running. For the men, nations ranked
from sixth to 13th get to send two riders each and nations ranked from
14th to 24th get to send one rider each. For the women, nations ranked
between 9th and 18th get to send one rider each.
The nations' rankings are used in the first criterion for selection,
but a second criterion, placement at 2007 Continental Championships for
Africa, America, Asia, and Oceania (but not Europe), also plays a role.
"The UCI will inform the National Olympic Committees at the beginning
of January of the number of qualification places they have obtained according
to criterion 1 (UCI ranking by nation) or criterion 2 (2007 Continental
The UCI's selection document states that per criterion 2, nations finishing
in the top two men's rankings or top of the women's rankings for each
Continental Championship (if not otherwise qualified per criterion 1)
get to send one male or female rider respectively. The UCI will confirm
with the federations how many athletes each can send to the Olympics by
This 2008 qualification system was unlike that for 2004 because it considered
points for nations' rankings not just for the year prior to the Games,
but two years prior. The change rewards countries for consistency over
a longer period of time and it protects traditional mountain bike powerhouses
from a lacklustre pre-Olympic year that could be caused by illness or
injury suffered by one of its star riders.
UCI Olympic Nations Ranking Men
Qualified to send three men per criterion 1
1 France 7864 pts
2 Switzerland 7349
3 Spain 5472
4 Belgium 4364
5 Germany 4353
Qualified to send two men per criterion 1
6 United States Of America 4224
7 Netherlands 3724
8 Sweden 3695
9 Canada 3462
10 Austria 3261
11 Denmark 3218
12 Italy 3175
13 Great Britain 2997
Qualified to send one man per criterion 1
14 Czech Republic 2854
15 New Zealand 2532
16 Australia 2276
17 Poland 2249
18 Russian Federation 1855
19 Colombia 1773
20 Ukraine 1754
21 Brazil 1701
22 Chile 1652
23 South Africa 1477
24 Ireland 1455
Not qualified per criterion 1
25 People's Republic of China 1245
26 Hungary 1240
27 Turkey 1187
28 Japan 1131
29 Slovakia 899
30 Slovenia 872
31 SRB 785
32 Norway 749
33 Greece 730
34 Cyprus 662
35 Venezuela 629
36 Croatia 598
37 Israel 596
38 Hong Kong, China 578
39 Portugal 576
40 Estonia 569
41 Lebanon 551
42 Finland 550
43 Argentina 539
44 Namibia 526
45 Romania 440
46 Thailand 310
47 Kazakhstan 282
48 Latvia 278
49 Lithuania 270
50 Philippines 251
51 Korea 246
52 Costa Rica 209
53 Mexico 182
54 RWA 151
55 Zimbabwe 150
56 Indonesia 140
57 Malaysia 115
58 Puerto Rico 94
59 Chinese Taipei 93
60 Ecuador 51
61 Uruguay 37
62 Islamic Republic of Iran 35
63 Paraguay 20
64 Netherlands Antilles 6
65 Bolivia 4
66 Luxembourg 3
67 Panama 1
68 Vietnam 1
UCI Olympic Nations Ranking Women
Qualified to send two women per criterion 1
1 People's Republic of China 7236 pts
2 Germany 6346
3 United States Of America 6193
4 Canada 6182
5 Norway 4957
6 Poland 4849
7 Russian Federation 4576
8 Switzerland 4478
Qualified to send one woman per criterion 1
9 France 3931
10 Czech Republic 3643
11 Spain 3574
12 Slovenia 3412
13 Netherlands 3311
14 Austria 3190
15 New Zealand 2928
16 Italy 2701
17 Sweden 1988
18 Brazil 1944
Not qualified per criterion 1
19 Chile 1765
20 Slovakia 1621
21 Turkey 1570
22 Great Britain 1465
23 South Africa 1447
24 Australia 1321
25 Ukraine 1287
26 Ireland 1182
27 Japan 1160
28 Israel 990
29 Belgium 975
30 Hungary 777
31 Cyprus 766
32 Portugal 741
33 Finland 739
34 Colombia 731
35 Mexico 703
36 Argentina 675
37 Croatia 663
38 Venezuela 653
39 Lebanon 610
40 Estonia 572
41 Namibia 417
42 Latvia 397
43 Greece 357
44 Denmark 351
45 Vietnam 281
46 Lithuania 270
47 Ecuador 256
48 SRB 200
49 Korea 160
50 Malaysia 159
51 Puerto Rico 154
52 Costa Rica 60
53 Thailand 2
Man's alleged retaliation threatens riders
A man in California elevated trail user conflict to a new level after
he said he "had nearly been run over by a mountain bike rider"
according to the Associated Press.
52 year-old Warren John Wilson allegedly retaliated by digging almost
50 holes with dimensions of about one by two feet (0.3 by 0.6 meters)
in Laguna Lake Park. With some of the holes hidden on the trail, a few
cyclists reported going over the bars, but no major injuries resulted.
Wilson was charged with a single felony count of vandalism according to
Smaller Team Squamish ready for intense season
"I couldn't be more excited about the team this year," said
Coach Paul Kindree about his Canadian Team Squamish for 2008. "We
have a slightly smaller roster than 2007 allowing us some extra freedom.
We can offer more personal attention to the athletes and it has allowed
the inclusion of some very keen, but less experienced younger members."
Eight new riders have joined the team.
"It is pretty impressive to note that most of the team has competed
at a provincial level, probably two thirds at a national level, and a
quarter at international level," said Kindree. "Squamish should
be very proud to have so many elite young athletes. We hope to up that
ante again this season."
Thanks to the Olympics in August, much of the elite-level 2008 competition
will be compressed into the earlier portion of the season. The World Championships
are scheduled for mid-June instead of the customary August or September,
and races like the Canada Cup are also early on the calendar while the
Canadian National Championships are slated for July in Quebec.
The team will spend some time taking a few trips to the Burnaby Velodrome,
interspersed with spin, core strengthening and gym work to be followed
up with road and trail riding. The squad will also continue its cooperation
with Mad March downhill technique camps, which have proved popular with
the cross country riders.
Team Squamish for 2008: Philip Cairns, Aidan Davis*, Hayden Drygas,
Kristin Drygas*, Ryan Edwards, Summer Griffin*, Eden Imbeau, Maia Kilby*,
Neal Kindree, Mo Lawrence*, Robert Leigh*, Alison MacKellar, Miranda Miller,
Toby Patterson-Nolan*, and Lauren Rosser*.
* indicates riders new to the team.
Bikercross draws winter downhillers
14 year-old Neko Mulally won the eighth annual Bikercross
at the Blue Mountain Ski Area in eastern Pennsylvania last weekend. He
beat the other finalists including Lars Tribus, Scott Cooper, and Marvin
Scanland after a series of elimination heats of three and four riders
each on the snowy ski slopes. Racers were encouraged by cheering skiers
and snowboarders along the course.
Not everyone had such a good weekend. 20 year-old Gregory White had to
be evacuated by toboggan and helicopter after he took a flyer over the
front of his bike and landed head-first in the snow. Although unconscious
and bleeding from the mouth, White was reported later in the day to be
in stable condition according to The Morning Call.
''In my years of doing this race, I've seen a lot worse,'' said Bikercross
director Jason Boris to The Morning Call. Boris commented the race
averages about one helicopter evacuation per year.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)