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MTB news & racing round-up for January 18, 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

Landis to race NUE series

Floyd Landis (Smith & Nephew) at the Shenandoah 100 in 2006
Photo ©: Cyclingnews
(Click for larger image)

Floyd Landis has accepted an invitation from the National Ultra-Endurance (NUE) MTB Series to compete in their eight-race series in 2008. Heading into its third year, the National Ultra-Endurance MTB Series features a schedule of 100-mile races held across the United States.

"We are pleased that Floyd has accepted our invitation to come out and race at our events," said NUE Series Director Ryan O'Dell, "These are the kinds of events where everyone is welcome, all ages and abilities. Having Floyd means we can generate additional exposure and attract sponsors that will help us further build our unique brand of racing."

In 2007, Landis raced the Shenandoah Mountain 100, which was the NUE Series finale. Riding for Smith & Nephew - BHRhip.com, he finished third behind Jeff Schalk (Trek / Volkswagen East Factory) and Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication). He also finished second at the Leadville 100, which was not part of the NUE Series.

"The great experience I had last year was a big part of my decision to commit to the whole series," said Landis, "I had a great time and felt very comfortable. It really gets you connected with why we all chose to ride bikes. The races are fun, healthy and very competitive and the racers, staff and sponsors for these events are truly great people. I can't wait for the first race in April."

Landis won the Tour de France in July of 2006, but organizers later stripped him of his title following a positive doping test for testosterone. Original runner-up Oscar Pereiro was awarded the title in October of 2007. Landis' bid to overturn his positive doping test before a hearing involving the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) was unsuccessful when an arbitration panel ruled to uphold his positive test results and subsequent two-year competition ban in September.

However, Landis is still awaiting the outcome of his final appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), with a decision expected in March. In the meantime, he has been serving his suspension, which applies to sanctioned competition. The NUE series is sanctioned by neither the UCI nor USA Cycling.

A source close to Landis told Cyclingnews that Landis was fully committed to the NUE Series regardless of the outcome before CAS. "He's commited to his sponsors and the NUE Series will be his primary competitive forum for 2008. Whether CAS overturns the decision against Landis, it doesn't change his competitive focus for the year. The NUE series is an opportunity for Floyd to keep himself in race form and to continue to provide value to his sponsors who have stood by him."

In addition to attracting many local and regional grassroots racers, the NUE series' growing profile is drawing over time more elite level racers, many of whom are subjected to anti-doping testing out of competition and at other competitions.

When asked if there were any plans to add anti-doping testing for the NUE series, co-organizer, Garth Prosser said to Cyclingnews, "No, we don't have that kind of money. This is old school mountain biking. We could make more money by recycling the beer cans from after the race than from organizing the race." Before making his reputation in the professional road scene, Landis was one of those "old school" racers on the American mountain bike circuit.

The 2008 NUE Series will open April 19 in Tennessee with the Cohutta 100 and will wrap up on September 6 in California with the Tahoe-Sierra 100. See the full NUE series schedule here.

The 2007 series was won by Chris Eatough (Trek / VW), who is expected to defend his title in 2008 although he could not be reached for confirmation.

Pure Tasmania Wildside starts this weekend

Greg Sherriff leads a group in the 2006 Wildside
Photo ©: Rick Eaves
(Click for larger image)

On Saturday the biggest field of mountain bikers ever assembled in Tasmania will line up at Cradle Mountain for the start of Pure Tasmania Wildside MTB stage race in Australia. The race runs January 19 through January 22.

The 450 strong field will be led by some Australia's best riders as they make their way to Strahan over four days tackling seven testing competition stages along the way. Tasmanian Sid Taberlay, Olympian and four-time winner of Wildside MTB, has a strong chance at another win, but is unlikely to enjoy the dominance he has had in previous years and will have to be at his best to take out a 5th title.

22 year-old Daniel McConnell 22 will be his main challenger. McConnell has had good form in recent months capped by an impressive 10th place in the U23 world championships in Fort William, Scotland, and he will be keen to bag a Wildside title for his resume. Other riders to watch are Launceston's Ben Mather and Adrian Jackson of Queensland. Mather and Jackson are both returning top ten results nationally and could surprise given the stage format of Wildside MTB.

Rumours also suggest that Chris Jongewaard of South Australia may yet be a starter. In 2006 he appeared on the start line, entry form in hand, and went on to end Taberlay's four event winning streak. If Jongewaard does appear, the racing at the front will be even tighter.

Launceston's Rowena Fry is the clear favourite for the women's event. Fry has stamped her mark on the national scene in the last six months with a string of podium finishes and the Wildside course will suit her riding style.

Racers are signed up from as far away as Germany, Switzerland, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for race coverage.

Fort William event wins award

American Mary McConneloug lead the riders out from the start in Fort William in 2006
Photo ©: Didier Weemaels
(Click for larger image)

Nearly 60 members of the International Mountain Bike Teams, Tech Support and Race Organizers Organization (IMTTO) voted to award the "Event of the Year" trophy to Rare Management for the third consecutive year.

In 2007, Rare Management organized the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships in Fort William, Scotland. The winner beat out 25 events with Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup finishing as the second best event and the top World Cup for the second consecutive year. Houffalize World Cup finished a close third and the top-ranking non-World Cup, non-World Championships event was the Roc d'Azur held in Southern France.

"The IMTTO aims to assist the events in their growth and therefore further secure the future of mountain bike racing as a viable sport for our members," according to IMTTO President Martin Whiteley.

Cyclingnews previously reported event awards handed out by the UCI for 2007.

IMTTO Event of the Year Trophy Results
1 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships – Fort William, Scotland     
2 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada      
3 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Houffalize, Belgium           
4 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Maribor, Slovenia             
5 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Offenburg, Germany            
6 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Vigo, Spain                   
7 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Schladming, Austria           
8 Roc d'Azur – Frejus, France                                        
9 Kokanee Crankworx – Whistler Mountain, Canada                      
10 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Champery, Switzerland        
11 Nissan UCI Mountain Bike World Cup – Saint Felicien, Canada       
12 Bundesliga Cross Country National – Heubach, Germany              
13 Swisspower Cup – Bern, Switzerland                                
14 Absa Cape Epic – South Africa                                     
15 Lisbon Downtown – Lisbon, Portugal                                
16 Bundesliga Cross Country National – Munsingen, Germany            
17 US Open – Diablo Park, New Jersey, USA                            
18 Bearclaw Invitational – Mountain Washington, Canada               
19 Swisspower Cup – Schaan, Switzerland                              
20 Sea Otter Classic – Monterey, California, USA                     

Tomac back to racing

A new outfit for 2008, the Tomac Factory Racing Team will contest the 2008 World Cup downhill and 4X program.

"A dream coming true," is how Team Manager and World Cup rider and seven time national champion Claudio Caluori described the Switzerland-based team. "It's where I started my career nine years ago, and I am really happy to now be managing the team and riding Tomac for 2008."

The team will feature up and coming talents including Rhys Willemse and Laurie Dinham from Australia, 2007 Junior World Champion Joseph Smith from the United Kingdom and Robin Hagen from Switzerland on the downhill portion of the team. All have been hailed as the "fastest juniors" in their respective countries. In 4X, the duo of Mirco and Adrian Weiss promises to round out an already strong package of junior riders.

Under the tutelage of Caluori, who will continue to race the elite World Cup circuit, the team will be focused on all of the World Cup events and the World Championships. Additionally, the team will hold Junior Development Camps in Switzerland, where young riders will have the chance to ride with the pros and benefit from their riding knowledge and skills.

"It was really an obvious choice to work with Claudio," said Tomac owner Joel Smith. "His experience, knowledge and work ethic will be an incredible benefit for these young riders."

Singlespeeders get more support at 24 Hours of Adrenaline Worlds

Spot Brand bicycles has stepped up in support of the 10th anniversary edition of the 24 Hours of Adrenaline World Championships by sponsoring the singlespeed solo category at the event. The singlespeeders will compete for over US$3,000 in cash with the winner also taking home a custom painted Spot Brand single-speed frame after the event July 26 in Canmore, Canada.

"The day before last year's World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championships, Nick Howe, CEO of Spot Brand, provided a custom Spot frame to the 2007 single-speed category winner," said promoter Stuart Dorland, delighted with the increased commitment from Spot Brand. "We talked about the 2008 race and now he's jumping in head-first. This year's single-speed category is going to be a world-class event with a world-class sponsor and world-class racers."

Matt Chaney won the 2007 edition of the race for singlespeeders. He will be back to defend his title. For more info, visit www.24hoursofadrenalin.com.

Jalabert, Chiappucci to Moroccan MTB marathon

Former road star Laurent Jalabert continues to stay active in his retirement. The winner of two Tour de France green jerseys will tackle the third edition of the Titan Desert mountain bike stage race in Morocco from April 27 to May 1. Jalabert, who has run marathons and done triathlons since retiring in 2002, will join his contemporary, Italian Claudio Chiappucci, winner of the 1991 Milan Sanremo in the endurance off-road event.

The pair will follow upon the successes of two other former road professionals, Spaniards Melchior Mauri, winner of the Titan Desert 2007 edition, and Abraham Olano, who placed fifth last year.

The race will cover nearly 500 miles, including the marathon third stage, where riders will cover 130 kilometres without assistance. The event has already attracted more than 200 registrants in three categories: under-23, elite (23 to 39) and Masters (over 40), who hail from Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Germany. The bulk of participants are amateurs.

Masters Worlds preparations begin

Organizers of the UCI World Masters Championships in Praloup, France, announced that they have begun preparations for the 2008 event scheduled for August 26-31.

For the cross country, racers will see a longer route with each lap approaching 9km, instead of 6km last year, and a start loop with improvements to both length and width. More technical sections will also be added. The downhill will be shortened, to about three minutes, from four minutes last year.

After hosting no entrants from Eastern Europe last year, organizers are trying to attract competitors from nations like Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Hungary and Russia. Registration has opened for the event, with 141 cross country and 51 downhill riders already signed up.

Race face goes grassroots

A new grassroots sponsorship program from Race Face is designed to help get riders from entry level competition to advanced levels of racing. Riders sponsored through their local shops are being recruited. Interested riders should prepare a resume and racing plan and fill out an application form. For more information, visit www.raceface.com/community/grass-roots/ or contact grassroots@raceface.com.

Merida MTB series for 2008

The Merida Bikes MTB Marathon Series announced six rounds in the United Kingdom. New for 2008 are road sportives for four of the six rounds.

The MTB marathons will follow their usual format with registration, skills classes, pasta party and event village on each Saturday with the ride following on the Sunday morning.

The 2008 series (except the Aviemore round – there 20, 40 and 60km) will feature the four popular route lengths of 25km (Mini marathon), 50km, 75km and the classic 100km course.

Merida MTB Series for 2008
April 12-13: Marathon (Saturday) and Spring Marathon (Sunday), Builth Wells, Wales
May 24-25: Road Sportive (Saturday) and MTB Marathon (Sunday), Ruthin, Wales
June 21-22: Details TBD, Aviemore, Scotland
July 5-6: Road Sportive (Saturday) and MTB Marathon (Sunday), Builth Wells, Wales
July 12: MTB Marathon "On Holiday", Bad Goisern, Austria
August 2-3: Road Sportive (Saturday) and MTB Marathon (Sunday), Selkirk, Scotland
September 13-14: Road Sportive (Saturday) and MTB Marathon (Sunday), Penrith, Cumbria

Winter short track series to Charlotte

The Charlotte Mountain Bike Winter Series will kick off this weekend in North Carolina. The first event opens January 19 with later rounds to follow on January 27, February 2, February 10 and February 16. The series aims to build grassroots racing while also offering the seasoned racer the opportunity of training at race pace on a consistent bases.

The short course features a three-quarter mile trail with banked turns and is a cross between a criterium, BMX, cyclo-cross and mountain bike race. Participants, based on category, will race 15 to 25 laps on the fast course at Renaissance Park. For more information, visit www.charlottemtnbike.com.

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