Home Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  

Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

 MTB index page for all MTB content

MTB news & racing round-up for June 13, 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

Great Divide racers get second option

By Sue George

It's not unusual to see moose along the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
Photo ©: Tour Divide
(Click for larger image)

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) racers now have not just one, but two options for competition this June. Beginning June 20, the more established event known as Great Divide Race, will run north to south for 2,490 miles along the GDMBR across the US from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. In addition, some other hardy souls will compete instead in the Tour Divide starting June 13 in Banff, Canada, and running 2711 miles south to the Mexican border.

Other than dates, the key difference between the two events is that the Tour Divide includes the Canadian section of Adventure Cycling's GDMBR while the Great Divide Race does not.

For the past several years, Matt Lee (SoBe / Cannondale) and some others have been starting the Great Divide Race a day or two early - unofficially racing their own prologue event on the Canadian portion of the trail before the event officially began in the US. When the 37 year-old Lee from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, approached Mike Curiak about adding the Canadian section of the race to the Great Divide race, the answer was "no" with Curiak telling him he wants to maintain the border to border concept of his Great Divide race.

So Lee organized his own version, including the Canadian section, called the Tour Divide.

Lee offered several reasons for the longer Tour Divide. "The race is for the racers, and it is an experience for the riders. I say that if you organize a race and don't include the top 225 miles of the trail, you're not giving the racers the full experience," said Lee. "Last year, we had five people race the prologue. Everyone like it and thought it ought to be in the race. The first 110 mile day is beautiful and scenic. Every year, I see moose and bear."

"It makes more sense logistically to start in Banff, Canada," added Lee. "You don't have to fly into a small airport with limited resources nearby, including no bikes shops. Starting from Banff makes it easier for international competitors to race. It's 30-40% cheaper to fly into Calgary. Banff is a fantastic mountain bike town and there are shuttles to get there. It's a town with a rich, outdoor history."

For mountain bike access advocates, there is another compelling reason to add the Canadian section. "A portion of the trail runs through Canadian federally designated Wilderness," said Lee. Unlike American federally designated Wilderness, Canadian Wilderness permits mountain biking. "For that reason alone, it's worth honouring the Canadian section. Its wilderness is open to mountain biking."

Lee is no stranger to endurance racing. He has completed the Great Divide Race four times, and 2008 will be his fifth attempt. In 2004, he finished fourth. In 2005 and 2006, he won the event, and last year, he was second. His fastest time for the complete route (including Canadian section) is 17 days, 21 hours and 10 minutes, a Tour Divide record, while Jay Petervary holds the fastest Great Divide Race record (set in 2007, not including Canadian section), with a time of 15 days, 4 hours and 18 minutes. Trish Stevenson holds the women's Great Divide Race Record of 21 days, 23 hours and 47 minutes (2005).

Looking back

The Tour Divide starts
Photo ©: Tour Divide
(Click for larger image)

"The precedent for Divide racing was established by John Stamstad in 1999," said Lee. "At that point, the Great Divide route had been in existence for a year. That was also the year was the first year a woman completed it. That year, Stamstad completed it and established the record."

Stamstad's performance established a few key tenets of Divide Racing, which is unlike any other race. First and foremost, racers compete with only self-support. The idea is self-supported racing is more fair in that it does not favor those with lots of money to buy support. Stamsted's self-supported ride came at a time when ultra-endurance racing was generally supported - think 24 hour racing with pit crews and the Race Across America (RAAM) with follow cars.

"In 2003, Mike Curiak attempted to break the record, riding it as individual time trial," said Lee. "That year, Adventure Cycling also made available the Canadian section of the route. It probably didn't occur to Mike that the Canadian section would be something to race in the future - he focused on the US section - or the border to border concept. It's similar in concept to racing coast to coast."

Curiak dropped out in Steamboat Springs due to mechanical failures in 2003, but as he was planning to do the event in 2004, he publicized it and invited others to join him for a "race". In 2004, Curiak broke Stamsted's record. It was also Lee's first race attempt. Although he finished fourth, he said "I averaged slow speeds, maybe 100 miles per day. I made it my goal to come back the next year and win. When I was researching, I came across the Canadian portion. The more I read about it, the more interested I became in riding the Canadian section as a prologue."

Read the complete feature.

World Cup winners favorites for European marathon championship

Trans Germany men's stage five winners Thomas Dietsch and Martin Kraler
Photo ©: Trans Germany
(Click for larger image)

European Marathon Championship titles will be awarded at the Gonson Albstadt MTB Classic this weekend on June 14-15. More than 1000 racers from 17 nations are registered for the 95km race, top among them World Cup marathon leaders Frenchman Thomas Dietsch (Gewiss Bianchi) and Finn Pia Sundstedt (Rocky Mountain). Both won the first round of the World Cup earlier this season in Manavgat, Turkey.

After two months without competition due to an elbow fracture, Dietsch returned to racing at the Trans Germany last week. The Frenchman won together with former Bianchi team-mate Martin Kraler. He will be racing for his third gold medal at the continental championships.

Others on the start list in Albstadt are Martin Kraler, Alban Lakata (Dolphin-Trek), German Karl Platt (Team Bulls) and Swiss racers Andreas Kugler, current marathon champion Silvio Bundi, Sandro Späth, Thomas Stoll, Roman Peter and Thomas Zahnd. Defending champion Christoph Sauser is preparing for the World Championships (in cross country) and will not be on hand to defend his title.

German Hannes Genze is ambitious to repeat his title win from 2005 and he'll benefit from the support of his ALB Gold team-mates Peter Riis Andersen and German national marathon champion Jochen Käss.

Women's race favorite Sundstedt is also coming off the Trans Germany where she took second place with team-mate Alison Sydor. "It was not too hard for me. So I think I will be well prepared for the Europeans," she said.

Esther Süss, Arielle van Meurs, Fabienne Heinzmann and Dolores Rupp will join in the action in the women's race. German national champ Katrin Schwing is more or less an underdog in this race, while title defender Sabine Spitz will also skip the race to prepare for the worlds.

New for 2008 is the first-ever title of champion in the U23 category, for racers between 19 and 22 years of age. A likely favorite is Switzerland's Thomas Litscher. In 2007 in the junior category, he grabbed the cross country title at the World Championship as well as at the European Championship.

Racers are coming from as far away as New Zealand and Namibia, which is sending Olympic athlete Mannie Heymans and his country mate Marc Bassingthwaighte.

For more information on the event, visit www.albstadt-mtb-classic.de.

Brentjens to go to fourth Olympics

The Netherland's Bart Brentjens
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller
(Click for larger image)

Bart Brentjens will be racing his fourth Olympics in Beijing in August. The Dutch Dolphin-Trek team cross country racer needed to finish top 16 at the recent World Cup in Fort William, Scotland, to qualify and he made it to the 14th position overall.

Brentjens had a bad start, but with the help of team-mate and Australian champion at Dolphin-Trek, Chris Jongewaard, both riders went into the top 15. Jongewaard pulled hard in the descents and lost control going over the bars with one lap to go. Jongewaard still managed to finish 18th.

In past Olympic Games, Brentjens won gold in Atlanta in 1996 and bronze in Athens in 2004.

Strobel to return to racing next month

Washington State's Luke Strobel (Team Maxxis) plans to make his return to international racing at the UCI World Cup at Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, in late July, after breaking his hand at the Sea Otter Classic earlier this year. In a relatively straightforward collision with a stray hay bale that'd found its way onto the course, Luke broke his scaphoid clean in half, an injury that wasn't diagnosed until some time later.

"I saw the doctor in Monterey (California) and was told that it was probably not broken but that these things can usually take a week to show up. It wasn't super painful and in fact I was back at home after the Otter doing timed runs on my local tracks, before I got the x-ray. That showed the complete break, so I opted for surgery on May 5 and have been in a hard cast since then".

Strobel has maintained fitness by riding his road bike daily and expects to get the cast off June 13. His next step is cross country training around his 22nd birthday on June 24, and then nearly a month of preparing for a return to World Cup racing.

"This has been so frustrating as I had my goals pretty much wiped clean by a simple crash. I've been staying fit, using a bone stimulator device to facilitate the recovery, and I really hope to do the final four rounds of World Cup in Canada, Australia and Austria. Missing the worlds sucks pretty bad, but my main thing right now is to be smart about this injury and recovery 100%."

Jeep KOM to take place in festival atmosphere

Jill Kintner racing the 2007 Jeep KOM
Photo ©: Jeep KOM
(Click for larger image)

Ketchum, Idaho-based Jeep 48Straight announced plans for a summer tour surrounding the Jeep King of the Mountain Series. Taking place from August through October and spanning from the East Coast to West Coast of the US, Jeep 48Straight will be headlined by the Jeep King of the Mountain competition.

For the first time, the 2008 series will incorporate a dual slalom format, headlined by athletes such as World Champions Greg Minnaar, Brian Lopes and Eric Carter; US National Champions Rich Houseman and Melissa Buhl; World Cup Champion Steve Peat; and Beijing Olympic Games BMX athletes Michal Prokop and Jill Kintner, among others. Each event will be televised nationally.

The action on the dirt will be complemented by a weekend-long festival, featuring dozens of live concerts. The slate of musicians is still to be finalized, but the recent winter festival series attracted 45 bands including Michael Franti & Spearhead, Swollen Members, Ky-Mani Marley, Slightly Stoopid, Mickey Avalon, Salem and Dirtie Blonde.

Jeep KOM & 48Straight festival series
August 22-24: Diablo Freeride Park, Mountain Creek Resort, Vernon, New Jersey
September 19-21: The Canyons Resort, Park City, Utah
October 23-25: The Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, California

For more information, visit www.48Straight.com.

NUE round four to Michigan

2007 Lumberjack winner Chris Eatough (Trek/VW)
Photo ©: Jack Kunnen
(Click for larger image)

The Lumberjack 100 round three of the National Ultraendurance Series (NUE) heads to Michigan on Saturday, June 14. Racers will tackle four 25-mile loops in the Udell Hills area. Each loop is mostly singletrack which will favor the more skilled racers.

In the men's race, all eyes will be on Jeff Schalk (Trek/VW) who won both the Cohutta 100 and the Mohican 100 so far this year. Look out also for defending NUE series champion and last year's Lumberjack 100 winner Chris Eatough (Trek/VW), strongman Sam Koerber (Gary Fisher 29er crew), Evan Plews (Scott USA / Capitol Subaru) and Harlan Price (Independent Fabrication).

In the women's race, the favorites include Mohican 100 winner Betsy Shogren (Sobe-Cannondale), Rebecca Rusch (Specialized / Red Bull), Michelle Stoppard (VisitPA.com), Cheryl Sornson (Trek East Coast), Trish Stevenson (Independent Fabrication), last year's winner Daniel Musto (Slingshot) and Carey Lowery (Outdoor Store-Specialized).

After round three, the series will take a break until July 19 at the Breckenridge 100 in Colorado. Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for complete coverage.

New legs for Gary Fisher's lightest full-suspension platform

By James Huang

The new HiFi XC platform
(Click for larger image)

Gary Fisher Bicycles had the right goal in mind with its Race Day short-travel suspension platform but something got lost in translation and the end result didn't quite hit the mark. The company takes another shot with its new HiFi Race chassis and comes far closer to the bull's-eye this time around.

Gary Fisher expanded its HiFi line this year to include a lighter and shorter-travel variant better suited to the needs of its Subaru-Gary Fisher cross-country racing team. As compared to the Race Day design that it replaces, the new HiFi XC platform is 50g lighter with a claimed frame weight of just 2350g (5.2lb) with shock and hardware but also far more capable.

The new frame is built with a hydroformed and double-butted 6066 aluminum front triangle mated to a co-molded aluminum-and-OCLV carbon fiber rear end. According to Gary Fisher (the company, not the man), overall chassis rigidity improves a much-needed 15 percent which includes substantial 37 percent and 29 percent increases in bottom bracket stiffness and rear end rigidity, respectively. Rear wheel travel has also grown to a more useful 90mm through the new cartridge bearing-equipped modified four-bar linkage.

As on the longer travel HiFi Trail, the new HiFi XC design is also fitted with Gary Fisher's new G2 geometry. This configuration uses an increased-offset fork to reduce trail in an aim to improve low-speed handling without adversely impacting the high-speed stability of the original Genesis front end.

Our top-end Procaliber tester came equipped with a panoply of race-ready parts including a Shimano XTR and SRAM X.0 drivetrain, Avid Juicy Ultimate brakes and a smattering of lightweight Bontrager bits. Fox Racing Shox handled the suspension duties at both ends with its F100 RLC fork and RP23 rear shock. Total weight without pedals is an encouraging 10.6kg (23.36lb) for a medium frame.

Read the complete review.

New Mafia Racing off to solid start

A new Colorado-based professional mountain bike team, Mafia Racing, has gotten its 2008 season off to a good start. The team, which supports both endurance and gravity specialists, has logged top ten results in several regional and national events including the Mountain States Cup Series and the Whiskey Off-Road.

The team recently picked up sponsorship from Felt Bicycles. On their brand new rigs, they earned a third and first in the men's and women's super D at the Mountain States Cup in Angel Fire, New Mexico, a few weeks ago.

"We look forward to taking Mafia Racing to the next level this year," said team President David Janowiec.

Mafia Racing for 2008
Andy Rigel, Mike Friedberg (XC, ST, Super D); Brandon Turman, James Hollibaugh (DH, 4X, DS, Freestyle); Nate Hills (Super D, DH, DS, 4X, Freeride); Jer Wok (4X, Freestyle); TJ Fiskar (4X, Freestyle, DH); Christian Ball (Super D, XC, Cyclo-cross); Damien Frasier, Erik Hanzel, Jake Wells, Travis McMaster (XC, ST, Cyclo-cross); Dylan Stucki (XC, ST, Cyclo-cross, Dirt Jumping); Lindsey Bishop (XC, Cyclo-cross); Kate Chapman (Xterra, XC, Super D); Seth Wealing (Xterra, XC, Cyclo-cross); Kevin Soller (XC, DH, ST); Nicole Duke (DH, XC, Super D, Cyclo-cross); Spencer Powlison (Winter trialthlon, Xterra, XC, Cyclo-cross)

BC Bike Race attracting top talent

The leaders before the start of the stage
Photo ©: BC bike race
(Click for larger image)

In just its second year, the BC Bike Race, scheduled for June 28 through July 4, is drawing top competitors to its sold-out event. Racers have signed up from as far as Japan, Australia, Colombia, Morocco, Guadeloupe and Norway and as near as the race's own backyard of North Vancouver.

The favorites for the race include the Trek / VW team of six-time 24hr Solo World Champion Chris Eatough and partner Jeff Schalk. Recently taking the top two places at the Mohican 100, the pair is returning to defend their title. The effort won't be easy though as they will face the Cannondale / Mona Vie team of 24 hour solo world champion Tinker Juarez and partner Mitchel Peterson; Canadian Olympic team member Seamus McGrath and partner Chris Shepherd; Kris Sneddon and Barry Wicks of Team Kona; three-time TransRockies winner Andreas Hestler and his partner Pan American Champion Max Plaxton of Rocky Mountain Bicycles; and Costa Ricans Marvin Campos Suazo and Luis de Ezpeleta of Team La Ruta.

In a few short week, several hundred mountain bikers will start in British Columbia. BC Bike is unique in the category of stage races based on its large portion of singletrack trails. Given the popularity of the event, registration will open for the 2009 event on July 5, one day after the 2008 edition finishes in Whistler, British Columbia.

For more information on the race, visit www.bcbikerace.com.

Previous News     Next News

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)