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MTB news & racing round-up for March 22, 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

Kalentieva follows her own path to the Olympics

Irina Kalentieva trains
Photo ©: Oliver Kessler
(Click for larger image)

While many cross country riders have been preparing for the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games with a training camp and racing in Cyprus, reigning World Champion Irina Kalentieva has chosen a different path. She is focusing on both the World Championships in mid-June in Val di Sole, Italy, and the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

"I don't want to race too early, nor do I wish to overdo it, as the season is both long and hard. For this reason I wish to manage my efforts to allow me to be at the top of my game for all of the important races," explained Kalentieva. She will make her 2008 season debut at the Swisspower Cup in Buchs on March 30; however, she is looking at it as a training race.

Two weeks later is when her season will heat up with the German National Series race in Muensingen. "All of my competition will be at the race, and it will be the first chance to gauge myself against them," said the 30 year-old Kalentieva.

Irina Kalentieva (Topeak/Ergon)
Photo ©: Oliver Kessler
(Click for larger image)

"I am orienting myself toward the World Championship and the Olympic Games – both races, in my opinion, are the most coveted, and I hope to take medals at both," said the seven-time Russian Champion, who is a favorite going into both events.

Following the first three World Cups in Houffalize, Belgium; Offenburg, Germany; Madrid, Spain, Kalentieva will decide her program leading up to the World Championships. "At the moment it is still too early to judge. I simply have to remain flexible and listen to what my body tells me," the climbing specialist said.

With Valnord, Andorra, and Fort William, Scotland, there are two World Cups directly before the World Championships. "If my recovery goes according to plan then naturally I will want to ride Fort William as I have good memories of ride riding there." It was there last September when Kalentieva won gold at the World Championships and celebrated her most successful season to date.

Cape Epic draws most competitive field

A bunch ride through the scrub at the 2007 Cape Epic
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller
(Click for larger image)

The countdown has started. Only a few weeks remain until the fifth edition of the Absa Cape Epic kicks off. On Friday, March 28, 1,200 riders from 41 countries will embark on a gruelling and adventurous nine-day journey through South Africa's Western Cape. Competing in teams of two, they will ride 966km from the Garden Route town of Knysna to Lourensford Estate in Somerset West near Cape Town, where they will arrive on Saturday, April 5. On their way, the participants will climb approximately 18,529m, including some of South Africay's most magnificent passes.

The 2008 edition has attracted the most competitive field in the race's history. Many of last year's top pros used the race to prepare for the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, and word seems to have gotten out. One top contender is Christoph Sauser, the reigning World and European Mountain Bike Marathon Champion. Sauser, who has eleven World Cup wins to his name and won the Cape Epic in 2006 with his friend and fellow Swiss rider Silvio Bundi, will team up with Burry Stander this year, the current African and South African cross country champion. It will be Stander's first Cape Epic and also the first time that these two race together as a team to raise funds for the Songo.info charity.

"I felt that I wanted to give something back to South Africa," said Christoph Sauser. "My winter training base is the beautiful Boland town of Stellenbosch and the beneficiary of my participation will be the community of Kayamandi, a township on the outskirts of Stellenbosch."

2007 Cape Epic men's champions Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm of Team Bulls
Photo ©: Frank Bodenmuller
(Click for larger image)

Other top teams will include the first Olympic Gold medallist Bart Brentjens and 2006 Marathon World Cup winner in Mont Saint-Anne Alban Lakata (Dolphin); last year's race winners Karl Platt and Stefan Sahm (Bulls); former race winner and multiple World Cup winner Roel Paulissen with reigning U23 cross country world champion Jakob Fuglsang (Cannondale Vredestein 1); multiple Swedish Champion Fredrik Kessiakoff with 2004 Marathon World Champion Massimo Debertolis (Full-Dynamix-RSM); Rune Høydahl and Kristian Torgersen (Høydahl 3); Thomas Frischknecht and Tom Ritchey (Project Rwanda); former Pan American Champion Jeremiah Bishop and 2007 BC Bike Race winner and six-time 24-hour solo world champion Chris Eatough (Trek VW); and multiple TransAlp Champion Carsten Bresser and former Team Telekom star Udo Boelts (Rocky Mountain/ Cube).

South Africa's top contenders are expected to be Kevin Evans, who placed third at the 2005 Cape Epic, and his team-mate three-time Giro del Capo winner David George (MTN Energade 1).

The women's favorites include marathon specialist Pia Sundstedt and multiple World Champion and World Cup winner Alison Sydor (Rocky Mountain Girls); two-time Pan American Champion Susan Haywood and X-terra triathlete Jennifer Smith (Trek VW WSD).

Of the starting teams, 61% are men's teams, 25% are masters, 10% are mixed and only 4% are women's. More than two-thirds of the field are from South Africa, and 91 percent of the riders are male with nine percent female.

At 18, Christiaan Kriek will be the youngest competitor and 65 year-old Geoff Palister will be the eldest. "It's a rather weird feeling, since I have never thought of myself as being old, especially when cycling," said Palister. "All my cycling buddies are relatively young and they certainly give me no slack in deference to my age." In fact, he will ride with his 20 year-old cycling buddy Mark Evans.

Zimbabwe cyclists to head to first Olympic Games

By Gavin Wren

A relative newcomer to mountain biking, Zimbabwe qualified for this year's Olympic Games on its first attempt. Last year, the African nation sent a nine-member team to its first-ever UCI mountain bike event - the African Continental Championships which also served as one of this year's Olympic qualifiers.

The squad fared well at the championship event and picked up two medals (one gold and one bronze), but it was in the elite men's cross country in which they caused the biggest stir. Antipass Kwari finished in eighth and in doing so, helped Zimbabwe become the third-ranked African country ahead of Team Rwanda, which is managed and funded by ex-Tour De France racer Jacques Boyer and industry notable Tom Ritchey.

Thanks in part to Kwari's ride, Zimbabwe's mountain bikers secured a place at the start line in Beijing. For the first time ever, mountain biking representatives from three African countries will be at the Olympics, with others from the nations of South Africa and Namibia.

Bennett finds success at Oceanias

By Dylan Dean

New Zealander Kieran Bennett won the downhill
Photo ©: Dylan Dean
(Click for larger image)

Kieran Bennett marked a major milestone in his career with his recent win at the 2008 UCI Oceania Championship downhill last weekend in front of his hometown crowd in Nelson, New Zealand.

Bennett started off the weekend by qualifying third in Saturday's seeding run, even after sustaining a rear flat in the last corners of the course. With extremely fierce competitors just ahead of him, Bennett knew that he needed to bring a fast, but mistake-free run come race day.

"I was feeling pretty confident going into Sunday's race," said Bennett. "I didn't feel that great during morning's practice on race day. I was riding really tight and was starting to feel a bit of pressure."

Even with the pressure starting to build on Bennett, he knew he had a shot at the title and he settled in and rode the perfect race. Hitting all his lines and staying true to form, he bested his competition for the win.

Only two riders joined Bennett in breaking the three-minute mark during the finals. In fact, each of the three riders was within the same second of each other. Bennett clipped fellow countrymen Justin Leov's time of 2.57.20 by a scant one-tenth of a second. Rounding out the trio was yet another New Zealander, Nathan Rankin, who was only three-tenths of a second behind Leov with a 2.57.50.

"It was great to have all of the top NZ downhillers together at the race in the weekend as a build up to the international race season, the track was fast and rocky with barely any pedaling so staying off the brakes was a big part of having a good run," said Bennett. "I'm really stoked to take the Oceania Title as it's a huge confidence booster heading into the World Cup series!"

With his victory at the Oceanias, Bennett automatically qualifies for a spot on the New Zealand National Team for the World Championships to be held in Italy later this season. Bennett's schedule also consists of all the UCI World Cup rounds, select NMBS events in the US, and Crankworx.

Mountain bikers face threat of illness

A researcher at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta, Georgia, reported Monday on why it's not a good idea to eat mud when mountain bike racing. More than 25% of 800 total racers, who participated in a race in Squamish, British Columbia last June, became ill with a bug from feces that were in mud through which they raced. "Campylobacter jejuni" was cited as the culprit - it causes diarrhea and abdominal cramps for between two and ten days when in contaminated water or food.

"All you could see were the whites of their eyes from the pictures we saw," Dr. Eleni Galanis said of the riders to the Canadian Press when describing the very muddy conditions. After the race, an investigation was led by the Public Health Agency of Canada's field epidemiology program, the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

Scientists took samples from along the course, but not until three weeks afterward and no Campylobacter was found although high concentrations of other coliforms, including evidence of E. coli contamination, were discovered. No source for the contamination last summer was identified although race-provided drinking water was ruled out as the source.

K-Capital Cup round two heads to Moneyscalp

Round two of the International K-Capital MTB XCO Series heads to Moneyscalp Forest near Newcastle in County Down for Easter Sunday, March 23. The race was originally set for Tollymore, but upon the advice from the forest service, the race was moved to Moneyscalp Wood, which in fact is an annex of Tollymore. The new venue is largely made possible through the work of Banbridge Cycling Club, which has been working tirelessly for two months to open up part of a neglected trail network to yield a race-worthy course for the K-Capital race.

The top Belgian MTB squad, Team Barracuda will be at the race, led by Patrick Gaudy, who is the eighth-ranked elite racer in Belgium. His team-mates will include Cedric Gaudy, winner of the 2007 Wallonia Cup, U23 racer Jorgen Flion. Welsh rider Lee Williams, who finished third in round one, will be back along with fifth-placed Adrian Lansley (Pedalon) and Paul Beale (Team Orange Monkey) making his Irish cycling debut. The British Cycling Federation team will not be attending due to other commitments.

For the Irish Elite riders, this will be another chance to pit their talents against visiting opposition. For Robin Seymour (Team Worc), Niall Davis (IMBRC) and Conor McConvey (McConvey Cycles) it will be part two of the "race to Beijing". In round one Seymour finished second to British Champion Oli Beckingsale while Davis finished sixth. McConvey was forced to miss the first round after sustaining a broken shoulder in an accident, though he finished second in a road race last Saturday. The rider who scores the most points over the first three K-Cap races gets the Irish ride at the Olympics.

Racers will cover a five kilometer course. Due to recent, damaging rains, the course may change slightly upon short notice. For more information, visit www.kcapitalcup.com.

Support grows for Voreis' AllRide Tour

Kirt Voreis
Photo ©: Mountain Racing Products
(Click for larger image)

Former World Cup Downhiller and Dual Slalom Racer Kirt Voreis, who is taking his AllRide Tour around the world promoting mountain bike riding and healthy living, picked up some extra support from MRP. The chain guide systems company found Voreis' mission in line with their own.

"Kirt's program is something we are super stoked to support. Riding bikes is the common thread between all cyclists, and the AllRide Tour's goal of promoting all aspects of bike riding and bringing it to mainstream culture is something we care deeply about. It was an easy choice for us" said Ryan Cranston, MRP Product Manager.

The AllRide Tour has stops planned across North America. For more information, visit www.allridetour.com

Eddie and Namrita O'Dea Diary: Spring training

Eddie and Namrita O'Dea
Photo ©: Andrew Kornylak
(Click for larger image)

As a full-time student, business owners, race promoters, and elite endurance racers, we often get the question, "How do you find time to fit all that in?" and the answer is sometimes we don't. Things have been quite busy for us lately.

February threw a rather large wrench in my plans to get a lot of winter base miles in as I had to complete a five-week clinical rotation for my dietetic internship. Not only did I have to fit in a full class load, work, and training, but I also had to work 24 hours per week at the hospital. Instead of getting my usual 15-20 training hours per week, I was only getting 6-10. I had to substitute running and gym workouts for some of my cycling time. Eddie was up to the task of taking over the chores at home and was also able to continue his winter training plan, for the most part.

The last week of February was also busy for him and 55nine Performance. Tom Coleman, the founder of Wobble-naught Inc. was in town for training on the Dartfish video analysis software that all the Wobble-naught dealers will now be using. Tom and Eddie spent three full days working with Dartfish and then five days fitting and working with the Inferno Racing team in Macon, Georgia.

I was really happy about Tom coming to town because I got to be his and Eddie's guinea pig while Eddie was trained in using the video analysis. I spent hours pedalling my road bike on the trainer while they coached me through pedaling technique and tips to improve my efficiency and speed on the road.

Read the complete diary entry.

Outdoor Outreach benefits from fundraiser

A Zoic-sponsored second annual spring fundraiser attracted approximately 100 riders, including 10 kids from the Outdoor Outreach program - the organization which benefited from US$1,600 raised at the ride and raffle at Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve in California.

The non-profit Outdoor Outreach, provides opportunities for at-risk and underprivileged youth to gain confidence and self-esteem through participation in outdoor activities. Their programs support underserved youth in San Diego County who are at risk for school dropout, substance abuse, violence and unintended pregnancy. Since its founding in 2001, Outdoor Outreach has taken more than 3,500 youth on over 1,000 outings, including rock climbing, snowboarding, surfing, snorkelling, mountain biking and backpacking.

"We're thrilled to be the beneficiary...besides raising money for our organization, the event is a great opportunity to expose the local outdoor community to our work. We're grateful for the opportunity..." said Christopher Rutgers, Executive Director of Outdoor Outreach.

“The kids were amazing, they were naturals on the bikes; hopefully some of them will gravitate to the sport and enjoy what mountain biking and getting outdoors offer beyond this event," said Eric Swenson, President of ZOIC Clothing. "We are already looking forward to next year!"

For more information on Outdoor Outreach, visit www.outdooroutreach.org.

West Coast Racing announce new Burnaby Mountain race

West Coast Racing, a community not-for-profit cycling club, announced a new event in British Columbia called the Cardiac Classic Bike Fest to be held on July 13 at Burnaby Mountain in the heart of metro Vancouver, Canada. It includes the famously steep climb that makes up part of Burnaby Mountain's trail network along with other twisty classics, plus brand new trails such as the reborn Gear Jammer and Hang Your Hat singletracks.

"Burnaby Mountain regulars will finally get the chance to show how well they can rail the trails they've been riding for so many years, while riders new to the mountain should get a real eye-opener seeing the course we can set smack in the middle of a large urban area," said West Coast Racing's Michael Tunnah. "Whether they’re on a super light hardtail or a long-travel rig, everyone will find spots where they can make time with their respective skills. Those just out for a casual day will be able to look back and say they were there at the inaugural Cardiac Classic." Tunnah promised a day of fun followed with a BBQ party afterwards.

The recent work of the Burnaby Mountain Bike Association, in combination with the injection of resources from Burnaby Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services toward developing trails and facilities has put a fresh new face on the popular venue.

The Cardiac Classic is on Cycling BC's rejuvenated 2008 BC Cup calendar. For more information on the new event, visit ww.westcoastracing.ca/cardiac or email info@westcoastracing.ca.

Seven-event SXC series accepting registrations

With less than three weeks to go until the first round of the 2008 Scottish Cross Country (SXC) Mountain Bike series at Laggan Woftrax, organizers are accepting online entries up to 350 racers per event. New for the series for this year is a timing system including chips and number boards plus racers.

2008 Scottish Cross Country Series
April 6: Round 1 - Laggan Wolftrax
May 4: Round 2 - Dalbeattie Forest
May 25: Round 3 - Strathpeffer (location To Be Confirmed)
June 22: Round 4 - Glenniffer Braes (also Scottish Championships)
July 27: Round 5 - Aonach Mor, Fort William
August 31: Round 6 - Drumlanrig Castle
September 21: Round 7 - Tweed Valley (location To Be Confirmed) (C2)

For more information about the 2008 SXC series, visit www.sxc.org.uk

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