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MTB news & racing round-up for October 16, 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

Prémont delays retirement

Marie-Helene Premont (Rocky Mountain) on her way to winning at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Rocky Mountain Bicycles team rider Marie-Hélène Prémont will contest the World Cup for at least one more year in 2009. Prémont, 31 years-old and from Chateau-Richer, Quebec, Canada, had previously intended to retire at the end of the 2008 season.

This summer, she enjoyed her most successful racing season ever, winning two World Cups on the way to capturing the UCI World Cup overall title, and successfully defending her National Champion title for the sixth time in a row, a Canadian record.

"I am really looking forward to coming back for another season. I feel like I am only getting better and I want to see what more I can do," she said. "Rocky Mountain was happy for me to ride another year, so it wasn't too difficult of a decision."

Prémont is in her third year of her Pharmacy degree at the University of Laval in Quebec with one year left to go, which makes her recent racing accomplishments that much more impressive. "Eventually I want to have a family, so I will have to stop racing one day to do that, but for now I want to focus on school and racing."

Like many of her male counterparts, Prémont has played a role in helping her sponsor develop its equipment. She was instrumental in launching Rocky Mountain's first foray into carbon fiber with its new Vertex RSL. After receiving the frame just four days before Canadian Nationals at Mont St. Anne this summer, and she took the win there and the following weekend at the World Cup.

Prémont will line up with the best in the world again starting with the opening round of the 2009 World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Dahle Flesjå renews with Merida

Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå
Photo ©: Kenneth and Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå
(Click for larger image)

Norway's Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjå renewed her sponsorship agreement with Merida for another four years. Just two months after the Olympic Games in Beijing, she already has her sights set on the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.

Dahle Flesjå made her announcement at a press conference on Wednesday morning at Oslo with her coach and husband Kenneth Flesjå at her side. The new deal extends her affiliation with the Multivan Merida team to 11 total years.

"This is my best contract ever," said Dahle Flesjå according to www.vg.no which also reported the deal as worth one million euros (over US$1.3 million) over four years.

At 35 years-old and as a multi-time cross country and marathon World Champion and 2004 Olympic Games gold medal winner, some racers might be thinking of retirement, but not Dahle Flesjå, who saw 2008 as a comeback year following an illness that saw her sit out much of the 2007 racing season.

"I have the best job. That is why it so easy to go to work. The years go by terribly fast when you are having a good time," she said.

With 26 World Cup victories, Dahle Flesjå is targeting Juliana Furtado's record of 28 wins. In 2009, she will focus on both cross country racing and defending her marathon world title.

Paulissen doubles at Roc d'Azur

World marathon champion Roel Paulissen won the popular season-ending Roc d'Azur marathon last weekend in the south of France with a time of 3:29:48. Dolphin-Trek racer Alban Lakata finished second, behind 2:48 and Stefan Sahm ended up only eight seconds further back in third.

Having a good weekend, Paulissen also won the cross country race, by just one second over Ivan Alvarez Gutierrez and by six seconds over Maxime Marotte. In the women's race, Elisabeth Osl proved fastest with a victory in 1:56:33, just under one minute ahead of Cecile Ravanel. Marielle Saner crossed the line in third.

See Cyclingnews' coverage of the Roc D'Azur including the marathon, cross country, enduro and downhill events.

Yorkshire sets sights on 2010 World Cup

British Cycling, Yorkshire Forward and the Forestry Commission announced late last week their intentions to bring the UCI Cross-Country Mountain Bike World Cup to Yorkshire for the first time. The three organisations are working together on a bid to host a round at the 8,600-acre Dalby Forest, near Pickering, in 2010, 2012 and 2013.

"This bid could not only bring a major international mountain bike event to Dalby Forest, but would also create fantastic new facilities for everyone who enjoys cycling in Yorkshire and Humber," said Yorkshire Forward's Neil Jenkinson, Assistant Director for Culture and Major Events. "This would deliver both significant media coverage and economic benefit for the region and would establish Yorkshire and Humber as one of the leading destinations for cycling."

In addition to its other trailbuliding efforts, the Forestry Commission is developing plans to create a new 6km route in Dalby Forest specifically for the event.

"We are working on a comprehensive bid with our partners which will put Dalby on a global stage as a world class sporting venue," said Alan Eves, Forest Management Director. "We have already created ... 55 kilometres of singletrack trails, and also hosted the final stages of the Yorkshire stage of the Tour of Britain in September. We hope to get a final decision on the World Cup bid by next June, so its fingers crossed."

British Cycling is backing the effort as a way to bring more international events to the United Kingdom.

Tostado and Kirkland solo to victory in Moab

The Moab landscape
Photo ©: Drew & Garrett Geer
(Click for larger image)

Josh Tostado and Jari Kirkland claimed solo wins at the final round of Granny Gear's National Points Series (NPS), the 24 hours of Moab in Utah last weekend. Both survived cold and extremely windy conditions as some of their top competitors succumbed to illness and the conditions.

Tostado set a blazing pace and logged 17 laps for the second fastest race since 2001. He was set to do battle with 24 hour National Champion Chris Eatough, but Eatough he pulled out after eight laps. Eatough, coming off illness, reportedly suffered hypothermia in the 30 mph cold winds that gusted up to 50 or 60 mph at times across the desert terrain. Had he stayed in the race, it might have been a tough battle as Tostado's pace was faster than Eatough's from previous years.

Tinker Juarez also rode his fastest-ever 24 hours of Moab and clocked 16 laps for a second place finish. Behind him was South African cross country pro Roan Exelby, also with 16 laps, in third. Superbike (motorcycle) world champion Ben Bostrom finished fourth with Leighton Poidevin in fifth.

In the women's race, Jari Kirkland was left to defend her title after favorite Pua Sawicki did not start the event. Pua Sawicki had been training in Moab for six weeks prior to the event and although her family flew out to watch the race, she came down with a respiratory illness and could not start the race. Kirkland won with 13 laps, comfortably ahead of Kris Cannon with 11 laps and Kerry White, also with 11 laps. Cat Morrison and Liz Baumgardt-Kays rounded out the top five placings.

Bart Gillespie logged the fastest men's lap in 1:01:36 while Kelli Emmett had the fastest women's lap in 1:12:53.

Baumgardt-Kays and Rob Lichtenwalner took home the overall NPS titles for the solo women's and men's categories.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the 24 hours of Moab.

English, Douglas & Team GU SRAM Nite Riders win at Mt. Stromlo

Chris Jongewaard
Photo ©: Scott 24 Hour Race
(Click for larger image)

Jason English was crowned "solo king of the hill" after winning the 2008 Scott 24 hour Australian Championship race with 28 laps in 23:58:06. Last year's champion, Andrew Bell took second with 27 laps in 24: 21: 08, and current European 24 hour champion, Zdenek Kriz of the Czech Republic, finished third with 26 laps in 24: 27: 28.

It's been a good year for the 27 year-old English, who also won the 24 hour Australian solo championships in March.

"The race plan from the start was to keep an eye on everyone but to ride my own race," said bleary eyed English after the event. "The quality of the riders at the moment is amazing and Australia continues to produce some of the best 24 hour mountain bike riders in the world."

Canberra will host the 2008 UCI mountain bike World Championships, but English said he would like to see the 24 hour World Championship there sometime, too.

In the women's solo division, Jessica Douglas claimed victory completing 21 laps in 23:05:03, with Phillipa Rostin finishing 19 laps in 24:08:11 and Penny Dustow of Casuarina completing 18 laps in 23:19:24

"A 24 hour solo is like giving birth - really super painful and you know there is a reward at the end of it but there is no way you would turn around and do it again straight away," said an elated Douglas.

Riding at night
Photo ©: Scott 24 Hour Race
(Click for larger image)

In the elite team's category, the master combination of Chris Jongewaard, Sid Taberlay, Brent Miller and Perren Delacour racing for "Team GU SRAM Nite Riders", won in style crossing the finish line in first, completing 37 laps of the course in 24:16:42.

The GU team was down a member for the morning hours after its Chris Jongewaard jumped on a plane to race the Herald Sun Criterium in Melbourne in the afternoon.

"It was the toughest 24 hour I have done in quite a few years and we had to move away from our usual race plan with Chris flying out to Melbourne this morning," said Canberra's Brent Miller.

"With only three men remaining the night life became pretty hectic for all of us, but hey, now our gang is finished and Chris is still riding this afternoon."

Tasmania's own international star Sid Taberley made up the remaining GU team alongside Perren Delacour. "I thought I had laid off a bit in yesterday's prologues but in hindsight I may have gone out to hard too early but then I did take out some of the fastest laps in the 24 as well, so all is good," said Taberley.

Perfect weather conditions were seen right throughout the championships with a crowd of over 6,000 to cheer on over 2,200 endurance riders across the course of the weekend.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Scott 24 hour Australian Championship event.

Four Cross rounds kick off Australian national series

Two rounds of four cross racing will kick off the Australian National Series at the Sydney Olympic Park this weekend. Both rounds will be conducted on the Monster Mountain Cross track on October 18 and 19 as part of the Festival of Cycling. Over 200 four cross riders are expected.

Last year's winner and Australian National Champion Caroline Buchanan will return - this year with even more experience after debuting and winning medals in the 2008 World Cup. Buchanan won the World Cup round in Canberra in August. This weekend, she will be challenged by fellow Australian Sarsha Huntington.

The elite men's field will see last year's winner Leigh Darrell do battle with Canberra World Cup bronze medallist Thomas Hubert. Just two weeks ago, Hubert claimed silver at the NSW BMX Championships in Macarthur.

Albert Bacci will line up in the masters men's division and will face Steven Humphreys. Along with the masters category, racers will contest divisions from under 15 to veteran.

Over 200 mountain cross riders are expected over the two-day event which will also include BMX racing on Sunday on a newly opened Monster BMX track.

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

French descend on Costa Rica Trophy Bike

Three Frenchmen will lead the competition at the Trophy Bike three-stage race in Costa Rica on October 17-19.

Local Costa Rican Pablo Montoya is one of the favorites for the event, but he will have to overcome several top French challengers. Montoya competes in Europe and has won medals at the U23 World Championship and Pan American Games, but marathoner Thomas Dietsch; former World and Olympic Champion Miguel Martinez; and Masters World Champion Lucovic Dubau will all have their sights set on victory, too.

The first stage will begin on October 17 and run 60km from Arenal to Monteverde. The 80km second stage will start in Monteverde and head to Rio Celeste. The final stage is set for 95km from Rio Celeste to Papagayo for a total of 243 km.

For more information, visit www.costaricatrophy.com.

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