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 October 10, 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

Australian national series opens in October

Australian MTB Series regular Caroline Buchanan
Photo ©: Greg Johnson
(Click for larger image)

Just as mountain bike racing is winding down for the season in many parts of the northern hemisphere, it's just getting going in the southern hemisphere, especially in Australia.

Mountain Bike Australia will host five national series races this season between October 2008 and March 2009. The National Championships will again be on in Canberra over the Australia Day long weekend on January 22 - 26. This year New Zealand and other Oceania competitors will head to Thredbo for the Oceania Championships in mid-March. To round off the season, National Marathon Championships will be run in Victoria in late March.

Australia boasts many of the world's best downhillers with most expected to compete throughout the season. Former two-time World Champion Sam Hill from Perth is expected to line up alongside world ranked Gold Coast's Nathan Rennie and Chris Kovarick. Other downhillers moving up the ranks include Gracetown's Mitchell Delfs and Wollongong's Amiel Cavalier.

In the four cross, expect to see Beijing BMX Olympians Jared Graves from Toowoomba and Luke Madill from Sydney at the starts. Other World Cup racers such as Caroline Buchanan from Canberra and Thomas Hubert from Newcastle will also be competing.

In the cross country, Olympians Dan McConnell and Dellys Starr are possible contenders, and strong riders like Adelaide's Chris Jongewaard and up and coming Lachlan Norris from Bendigo are expected to compete. Many of the women being groomed for the London 2012 Olympic Games as part of Australia's "Dirt Road to London" program will start to make their mark this season with riders like Launceston's Rowena Fry, Bendigo's Joe Wall, Manly's Zoe King and Melbourne's Katherine O'Shea. Former National Champion Tory Thomas from Mt Beauty and Brisbane's Jodie Willett will also throw down some challenges this season.

Australian Calendar 2008-2009


18      RED ASS 4X Series #1, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW      (Aus) NE  4X
19      RED ASS 4X Series #2, Sydney Olympic Park, NSW      (Aus) NE  4X


1 - 2   MBA Series #1, Eagle MTB Park, Adelaide, SA         (Aus) NE  XCO/XCC/DH
29 - 30 MBA Series #2, Illinbah, Gold Coast, Qld            (Aus) NE  XCO/4X/XCC/DHI 


13 - 14 MBA Series #3, You Yang MTB Park-Geelong, VIC       (Aus) NE  XCO/XCC/DHI


22 - 26 National Championship, Mt Stromlo-Canberra, ACT     (Aus) CN  XCO/4X/XCC/DH/OT
31 - 1  MBA Series #4, Mt Buller, Mansfield, VIC            (Aus) NE  XCO/XCC/DHI


28 - 1  MBA Series #5, Glenorchy MTB Park, Hobart, TAS      (Aus) NE  XCO/4X/XCC/DH


20 - 22 Oceania Championship, Thredbo, NSW                  (Aus) CC  XCO/4X/XCC/DH
29      National Marathon Championship, Wandong, VIC        (Aus) CN  XCM

Flight Centre team announced for Croc Trophy

Tim Bennett
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

The Merida-Fight Centre team has set itself the ambitious goal of claiming both the men's and women's titles at the Crocodile Trophy, when it hits the dusty outback road of Australia's tropical north on October 21. Spearheaded by Western Australia's Tim Bennett, who last year excelled in reaching the bottom step of the podium behind Italy's Mauro Bettin and The Czech Republic's Ondrej Fojtik, the team will return in 2008 with a bolstered line-up, featuring in-form riders and world class talent.

Joining Bennett once again for the journey will be last year's fellow debutant Nick Both, whose form of late has been outstanding, including a second overall placing at the Flight Centre Epic. Bookending the men's lineup for Merida-Flight Centre is Adrian Jackson, whose credits including winning the 2004 & 2008 World Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships along with the 2008 editions of Tasmania's Wildside and the Central Australian Mountain Bike Enduro.

"With Tim, Nick and A.J., we believe we have the right mix of skills to take a serious tilt at winning the Crocodile Trophy," Team Director Peter Creagh said. "The 2007 event was an excellent learning experience and our riders grew in confidence with every day as they realised they could match it with the Europeans."

But it won't just be the Europeans the Merida-Flight Centre team will need to worry about in 2008. The start-list features a quality group of Australians including 2006 World 24 Hour Champion Craig Gordon (Rockstar Racing) and one of mountain biking's ultimate survivors, the legendary downhiller turned endurance racer, Johnny Waddell.

"Gordon is a tough competitor and I know the boys will enjoy the daily dogfight," said Creagh. "But our goal is to win the GC, and I suspect it's the Czech team (VIG+ Racing) we will need to be most concerned about."

Merida-Flight Centre won't be focussed solely on winning the men's title in 2008 with its newest team member lining up in the women's race.

Former Ironwoman Jo Bennett, the wife of Tim, has decided to enter Australia's outback classic, and is already considered to be one of the favourites to take home the women's "Saltie". Bennett recently decided to shift her focus full-time to mountain biking, with The Croc Trophy her first serious stage-race campaign. It also provides a chance to renew the rivalry with another of Australia’s top female mountain bikers, The Sunshine Coast's Naomi Hansen, after the two shared the honours at the re-cent Flight Centre Epic.

"Whatever Jo achieves at this race will be a bonus for us as a team," Creagh said. "We are looking to Jo as a long-term project and we know with the Crocodile Trophy that it's a race where results are often commensurate with experience."

Kupfernagel to Stevens Bikes

Hanka Kupfernagel
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Hanka Kupfernagel and her partner Mike Kluge are changing their team name to Itera Stevens to reflect their new bike supplier, and will concentrate on women's mountain biking and 'cross.

Kupfernagel, the 2007 time trial World Champion, decided not to extend her contract with Focus Bikes, but is now with Stevens Bikes, a German manufacturer according to the German Cycling Federation. The new team will concentrate not only on cross and mountain biking, but also on time trial riding. It will combine young upcoming racers and experienced racers, who will "help make women's cycling more attractive and help it to a stronger media presence," according to the Stevens website.

Stevens sees the sponsorship as a logical step. "We look forward to working with the two exceptional athletes," said Stevens production manager Volker Dohrmann. "Simply the number of world titles that Hanka and Mike have won shows a concentration of talent and spirit. Plus, Hanka and Mike have been a good symbol of German cycling for years and so are perfect advertising partners for us."

For the 'cross season, the company will provide its Carbon Team machine with Shimano Dura Ace components and Scorpo Carbon Wheels. For road racing, the team will ride Stevens SLC Team bikes and for mountain bike races, the Stevens SMC 1.

Brentjens Challenge this weekend

The Bart Brentjens Challenge in the Netherlands will wrap up the racing season for many racers on Sunday, October 12. In addition, the race will served as the last unofficial race of mountain bike legend Bart Brentjens of the Dolphin Trek team.

Brentjens, who turns 40 years-old this week, won gold in the 1996 Olympic Games and bronze at the 2004 Olympic Games. He was also the 1995 World Champion in cross country.

For more information, visit www.bartbrentjenschallenge.com.

Stander returns for Asishove Challenge

Burry Stander will complete his 2008 season
Photo ©: Jon Ivins
(Click for larger image)

This time last year South African Burry Stander was a promising international racer using the Asishove Mountain Bike Race as a podium-topping bookend to his 2007 season. Now, he's the Under 23 World Cup champion and World Championship silver medallist and he confirmed on Wednesday that he'll be on the start line of the 2008 Asishove.

Ever the competitor, Stander, who won the inaugural event last year, will return to the Asishove just outside Durban on October 18 not only to try and win the 45km event again, but also to bid farewell to his longtime bike sponsor and thank his home-province fans. The 21 year-old Port Shepstonite has signed a contract to race alongside World Champion Christoph Sauser on the European-based Specialized team in 2009.

"It will be one of my last races with GT Bicycles, who have helped me achieve the success I have over the past three years. As a professional, having a supportive sponsor is essential and they've been just great. I have also enjoyed amazing support from fellow KwaZulu-Natalians while racing abroad this year and I feel it's only right to show my appreciation by doing some of my favourite local races like the Asishove," said Stander.

"Actually, while it's lots of fun, the Asishove is a deceivingly tough event and it suits me well because there are steep climbs, lots of singletrack and fast descents, which is what I'm accustomed to in the World Cup cross-country races I do. It's a great event for anyone looking for a race with a bit of everything in it and I would love to see it grow each year."

The event will take place at Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park, Pinetown and is open to all mountain bikers, with a 20km option for the less fit or beginners and youngsters. Both routes start and finish inside Giba Gorge and also incorporate sections of rolling countryside in the Shongweni area with ocean views.

For more information, visit www.amashova.co.za.

Pekatch back on form before Israel championship

By Yaron Michali

Dror Pekatch riding
Photo ©: Idan Peled & Itzik Dgamin
(Click for larger image)

Just two weeks before his country's national championship, Israel's Dror Pekatch (Subaru / Gary Fisher) showed he is back in form with a win at the Bet Schemesh 70km marathon race at home in Kdoshim Forest last Friday.

Pekatch finished in 2:23:48 with Israeli National Team member Eyal Rehat in second at 2:23:48 and three-time Israeli champion Dor Dviri in third at 2:25:00.

"The race was tactical and fast on a non-selective course," said Pekatch. "I tried to separate my two closest rivals, as they are on the same team, in order to avoid any cooperation against me," said Pekatch. "I am glad it worked, but for the national championship, this approach will not work."

In two weeks, the Israeli National Championship will close the 2008 season. Defending champion Rotem Yishay and Oded Danon are among the favorites.

"Rotem is coming after a successful season, and there are many other strong riders, but I am eager to race, we'll see what happens," said Pekatch, who then offered an explanation for his own recent results and four other top-two placings recently following a training camp in the Italian Alps.

"The results are the outcome of hard work with my new coach," said Pekatch, who recently began working with French coach Benoit Nave. "It is a privilege to work with Benoit Nave, but a lot of work has to be done, I am still not close to my best form and I have a lot to improve."

Pekatch is recovering from a thigh surgery to remove a benign tumor. This summer, he also suffered a broken rib.

Test of Series announces race dates

The Test of Series announced the 2009 race dates for its three-race series: The OreCrusher, The Test of Metal, and the GearJammer.

"Each of these Squamish races has its own character and each poses a unique challenge for riders," said promoter Cliff Miller.

The OreCrusher, which will take place on May 9, is a classic cross-country lap race through the gnarly "dump trails" in Brackendale. The second in the series is the Test of Metal on June 20. The series then ends with the 47km GearJammer on July 25.

"It's the Canadian Epic," said Miller of the Test of Metal event, "and it's a good opportunity to race against some future Canadian Olympians." Three of the four members of the 2008 Canadian Olympic team, Geoff Kabush, Seamus McGrath and Catherine Pendrel have raced the Test.

The non-profit Test of Metal, Inc. has donated more than CAN$75,000 in race proceeds to community organizations.

Previous News     Next News

(All rights reserved/Copyright Future Publishing Limited 2008)