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MTB news & racing round-up for October 9, 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

Winners crowned in final marathon World Cup

By Sue George

Petra Henzi (Fisher BMC)
Photo ©: Armin M. Küstenbrück
(Click for larger image)

Colombian Hector Leonardo Paez Leon (Gewiss Bianchi) and Swiss Petra Henzi (Fischer-BMC) won the second of the two 2008 UCI Marathon World Cups last weekend in Ornans, France. Racers battled muddy conditions after days of rain prior to the event. The race was not only the final marathon World Cup of the season, but the final one in general as the UCI has not scheduled any marathon World Cups for 2009.

Leonardo Paez Leon escaped initially with a small group of riders and then rode off the front for a solo win over the 83km of the race. Just over two minutes behind him was Lukas Buchli followed by Karl Platt (TBS), Alban Lakata (Dolphin-Trek MTB Team) and Urs Huber.

"In different places, we sank up to our hubs in mud," said Team Alb Gold's Hannes Genz, who finished ninth.

Leonardo Paez Leon's performance was good enough to give him the World Cup overall title with 390 points. Thomas Dietsch (Gewiss Bianchi), who won round one in Turkey this spring, took second with 370 points, and Lakata finished third with 350 points.

In the women's 60km race, Henzi had a similar winning margin over Esther Süss. Blaza Kelmencic (Giant Italia) finished third with Sabrina Enaux (Team Lapierre International) in fourth and Michela Benzoni in fifth.

Round one winner Pia Sundstedt was named World Cup overall champion with 380 points. Süss claimed second with 360 points and Klemencic earned third with 310 points.

By virtue of being the top-placed French racers, Dietsch and Enaux were also crowned French national marathon champions.

The race in Ornans was the last chance for marathoners to claim a World Cup win. "The UCI will discontinue World Cup Marathon for 2009," said UCI spokesperson Enrico Carpani to Cyclingnews. "The current format doesn't meet our original concept, which aimed to attract mass participation with popular and elite riders competing side by side. We are currently looking into alternative ideas which will satisfy our hopes for the future of this discipline."

Racing will continue this coming weekend in France, with the popular Roc d'Azur race October 10-12.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the final marathon World Cup.

24 Hours of Moab draws strongest field

Chris Eatough is a favorite for the 24 Hours of Moab
Photo ©: Sven Martin
(Click for larger image)

The 2008 24-hour racing season will largely come to an end for North Americans with the 24 hours of Moab on October 11-12 in Utah. The final round of the 24 Hour National Points Series, run by Granny Gear Productions, is also going by the name of the Galactic Championships.

Among the dirt warriors assembling to do battle in the solo men's category are two-time Olympian and 2003 winner Tinker Juarez (Cannodale-MonaVie), defending champion Chris Eatough (Trek VW), and an on-form Josh Tostado (Giant).

Eatough and Tostado made history recently with their gruelling performance at the 24 Hours of Nine Mile. Tostado led the race for 18 laps, only to be passed and defeated by Eatough, who hit the front two laps from the end and won by a mere 16 minutes.

Eatough is under no illusions about the task ahead. "Nine Mile was a tough race, and Tostado pushed me hard the whole way. There are going to be lots of strong riders and good competitors at Moab. Tinker, for one, has been having a very successful year."

Tostado will arrive in Moab hungry for revenge. Last year at Moab he never hit full warp speed, and quit the race early. This year he will be looking to earn the title.

Juarez is pleased to be back at Moab, and expressed excitement about how many people from the MonaVie Cannondale team will be there. A two-time Olympian, Juarez can be counted on to get in the middle of any Tostado/Eatough action.

"I'm hoping for a good race weekend," said Juarez. "With Eatough and Tostado coming out, it should be a good battle."

This will be the first time all three are competing against each other at the same time.

One dark-horse rider who could well mix it up with these front-runners is 24 hour newcomer Eric Sullivan. Known as a successful adventure racer, ski endurance athlete and erstwhile bar-room pugilist, "Sullie" is looking a breakout ride that will prove him as a new star in the discipline.

Rob Lichtenwalner is setting his gyroscopes on the National Point Series (NPW). The overall win would be his second in a row if he clinches it.

In the women's race, Pua Suwiki (Ellsworth) will beam in with the sole intention of claiming the solo women's galactic title. After beating several cross country pros to win the American Mountain Classic, and finishing fifth overall in the National Mountain Bike Series, Sawicki looks a worthy challenger for the defending champion, Jari Kirkland, whose result last year was good enough to take second place in the solo men's race behind only Eatough.

Kirkland, 32, has distinguished herself as an adventurer racer in recent years, and in her college years was an All-American swimmer. This will be the first time the two have gone head-to-head in a 24-hour race.

For the women's series win, look for Liz Baumgardt-Kays attempting to claim her first 24-hour race victory. With series leader Namrita O'Dea unlikely to attend following the sudden withdrawal of her sponsor, Baumgardt-Kays is virtually certain to win the series.

4,000 mountain biker racers, support crew and fans are expected to populate tent city four the 14th edition of the race. 400 teams will compete on the 15-mile track that winds through the foreboding and beautiful high-desert terrain.

English & Beck victorious in Yellomundee

Jason English
Photo ©: Sportograf
(Click for larger image)

The Paddock Club at the Yellomundee Regional Park was buzzing with excitement on Sunday morning, with riders, spectators and race supporters awaiting the qualifying rounds, kicking off Rocky Trail Entertainment's MTB Grand Prix 2008. The new racing concept required every racer to complete a short qualifying "hot lap" to secure their position in the starting grid of the six-hour race that was to follow.

Jason English took out the first place in the MTB Grand Prix in the solo male category, after qualifying for Pole Position, with a total number of 17 laps on the 8.08km long track. With 13 laps, Craig Armour came in second overall in the race, after starting with a 30 second penalty in the starting grid. Another Sydney-sider, Brad Hawthorne came third after catching up to the leaders from his sixth place in the qualifying.

The women's category was dominated by Sydney's Anna Beck - after coming second in the qualifying rounds, she overtook Joanne Fox and secured the first place with 12 completed laps. Fox came in second place with eight laps in front of Belinda Blackhall who completed five laps.

Registration open & course info revealed for Alps Epic

Registration for the new Alps Epic in Australia on March 15-19, 2009, is open and beginning to fill. The total number of entries, 250, has been limited to ensure minimal impact on the fragile environment that the course traverses. The event is 10% full, with a sellout expected by the early bird entry deadline of December 1.

Organizers just released course information for the six-stage, five-day event. "The beauty of this format of mountain bike racing is that we have been able design the course around the best mountain bike tracks in the area. This has enabled us to keep the stages relatively short allowing plenty of time to explore this gorgeous part of the country," said Craig Bycroft, course designer. The race will cover 200km with 99% of it on dirt.

Stage four (from Nimmo to Island Bend) has been kept relatively short to allow riders and their support crews time to ride or walk to the top of Australia via a hike up Mount Kosciuszko.

The race is offering a unique category, the relay pair. This category is designed for riders who would like to share the experience of the event with their team mate. This makes it a good category for school teams and also for couples who may be bringing their family along - one rides, the other on family duty. Some of the shorter stages will allow both relay pair riders to complete the stage if they choose.

For more information, visit www.alpsepic.com.au.

Gunn-Rita Diary: Busy days at home

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (Multivan Merida)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Finally back on Norwegian soil again, and it feels wonderful! It wasn't quite as wonderful to have to cut out all competitions before the end of the season because of damage after the crashes in Beijing, but my body is now totally healed and I'm back in full training again.

Exactly a month has passed since we left for home from Eurobike and moved straight into a new house designed and built by KleppHus. After consistent travelling throughout the past six months, it felt almost unreal to be going home.

Since we had only taken one bed with us from our old apartment, it was rather empty here for the first weeks. Loads of space - very unusual for us who are used to hotel rooms where we barely have space for a suitcase and a bike next to the bed. We still don't have all that much furniture, but most of the contents of boxes and various equipment is in place and some more furniture has been ordered.

We've had some very busy days since we got home. Much of the time has been used for negotiations and bargaining on the telephone and on email. We're still discussing with various professional cycling teams about sponsorship for the period leading up to the Olympics in London in 2012, and nothing has been signed yet. I've also had some meetings with possible sponsors, and during the coming two weeks will meet with our present personal sponsors to discuss a possible future together.

Read the complete diary entry.

Equal purse offered for Wigwam Mountain Bike Challenge

The 2008 edition of the Wigwam Mountain Bike Challenge, a cross country race hosted by the Sheboygan FAT KATS will be held on October 12 in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

New for 2008, men and women will receive an equal share of the prize purse for the top five places. Regular payouts for the remaining top 10 will be based off the Wisconsin Off Road Series (WORS) standard payout schedules.

Returning to the race will be hole shot primes in which all classes will have the opportunity to receive a cash payout for being the first, second or third across a line setup 500 yards up the trail from the start. Also returning will be the Equalizer hill prime, which rewards riders with a US$5 bill for making it up the dreaded 20 yard Equalizer headwall that leads into the Sheboygan Quarry.

For more information, visit www.fatkats.org.

New fundraiser for Llanes

A new raffle and auction fundraiser is being held for Tara Llanes, a gravity racer who was paralyzed in a crash during a race near the end of the 2007 season. Llanes is having her next surgery in November to relieve some pain.

Entries for the raffle cost US$5 and all proceeds will go directly to the Tara Llanes "Road to Recovery" Fund. Mail entries to Pinned MTB Magazine, Attn: Tara's Fundraiser, 316 West Mission Ave, Suite 117, Escondido, California, 92025 USA or send payment via Paypal to JDylanDean@cox.net with a subject of "Re: Tara's Fundraiser".

An Ebay auction will also start October 8, with both contests ending on October 18. For more information, contact Dylan Dean at 760.443.3344.

Donated items for the raffle and auction include complete bicycles, forks, Anneke Beerten's World Cup 4X leader's jersey, Andrew Neethlings 2006 4X race bike and a drawing by Haro Bikes founder Bob Haro.

Tour of Durango postponed

The Tour of Durango, scheduled for October 12, has been postponed until Summer 2009 in order to expand the event. The mountain bike/run/hiking event is a fund-raiser for Trails 2000 and the Southwest Conservation Corps. Trails 2000, a nonprofit formed almost twenty years ago that is responsible for building and maintaining the trails in and around Durango. The Southwest Conservation Corps employs and trains young people and completes conservation projects on public lands.

With support from title sponsor Alpine Bank, the event was ready to go on Sunday, October 12 but the event committee was presented with three opportunities to expand the scope and nature of the Tour of Durango. It decided kicking off a first-year event with even more gusto and partners would be worth waiting for.

"We realized that the event as it was originally proposed was going to get us just part of the way to where we want to be, which is providing an event the injects new energy to the Durango mountain bike and running scenes," said event director Jeff Frost.

The plans for next year are to partner with an existing event and bring a lot of visitors into Durango for a much larger-scale happening that could add multi-day multi day mountain bike and trail running opportunities.

"With continued strong support from event partners and sponsors Alpine Bank, Carvers Brewing Company, The Durango Herald, Studio 21, The Point, Trails 2000, and the Southwest Conservation Corps on board for the future, the 2009 event is in great shape," said Beth Drum, marketing director for Alpine Bank.

All registered 2008 participants have been contacted and their entry fees will be refunded.

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