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MTB news & racing round-up for February 7, 2009

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

Luna women's team returns for 2009 without Nash

By Sue George, Mountain Bike Editor

Catherine Pendrel (Luna Women's MTB)
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Canadian Catharine Pendrel and American Georgia Gould will continue to head up the Luna Women's team for the 2009 mountain bike season. The veteran duo will be joined by Chloe Forsman.

Last year, Pendrel won her first-ever World Cup round in Bromont, and ended up second in the overall rankings. Gould finished second in both the mountain bike and cyclo-cross US National championships. She also wrapped up the season as the fifth-ranked woman in the UCI World Cup cross country standings.

Notably absent from the roster is Czech Katerina Nash, who raced on the team. Nash, who lives near Lake Tahoe in the US and has represented Czech in the Olympic Games for cross country skiing and mountain biking, has retired.

Team spokesperson and 2001 mountain bike World Champion Alison Dunlap, 39, will be returning to a racing role on the team. She had retired at the end of the 2004 season.

"I am coming back to race the full (cyclo-) cross series next fall. [I] can't wait!" said an excited Dunlap. Gould will also race 'cross next year.

Luna continues to support its women's off and on-road triathlon teams with former mountain bike professional Shonny Vanlandingham, Danelle Kabush (sister of pro mountain biker Geoff Kabush), Terra Castro, Tyler Stewart, Linda Gallo and Cathy Chesky.

Hagen calls it quits

Scarlett Hagen of Queenstown
Photo ©: Olly Hagen
(Click for larger image)

After nine years on the race circuit, New Zealand's Scarlett Hagen announced her retirement from downhill mountain bike racing. Just 21, a burnt-out Hagen brought her career an end that suprised some. Hagen's final event will be the Brake Burner on her home track this weekend.

"I can't really race at 100% any more, so I've basically decided to give up," Hagen told the Otago Daily Times. "I've had a totally awesome nine years. I've loved it, and I still like riding bikes. But I don't want to race at the top level any more. It's just time for a change. I need to find motivation for something else."

Hagen won her first national title at age 12 and was a junior world champion at age 16. Along the way, she suffered two compound fractures, 12 other broken bones, three dislocations and a half-dozen concussions. She said that while her body could still take the abuse of the sport, she had achieved as much as she wanted within the sport.

Hagen is pursuing studies in physical education at the University of Otago and may consider coaching in the future. She now works part-time as a personal trainer.

Hagen ended the 2008 season ranked 17th in the UCI World Cup downhill standings.

Fumics leaving Germany for Croatia

The Fumic brothers,
Photo ©: Andrej Dekleva
(Click for larger image)

Mountain bikers Lado and Manuel Fumic are leaving Germany for Croatia. They will ride for that country in the future and have applied to register their "Fumic Brothers International" team with the International Cycling Union as a Croatian team.

The two brothers said in a statement released this week that they haven't found the "stability and support" that they are looking for from the German federation, the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR). They were suspended for three months last year for failure to properly report their whereabouts. Their suspension was later lifted on a technicality.

"Although we never had anything to do with performance manipulation and were tested more than 100 times ­ without ever showing any kind of irregularities ­ our own federation, almost arbitrarily, last year brought down undeserved bad headlines on us," the statement said. "Just because we fully justifiably criticised the whereabouts requirement and the management techniques of the Federation. That was very damaging sports-wise and personally very disappointing."

They are moving to Croatia, where they have family ties. "Croatia finds itself with a new start - in sport, in tourism, and in its economic development. We see here the possibility to bring not only our sporting performance but think we can help their federation, too." The brothers are setting their aims at riding for their new country in the London 2012 Olympics.

Between them, Lado, 32, and Manuel, 26, have 12 German titles, one Under 23 world title, one Under 23 European title, and appearances in the Olympic Games in Sydney, Athens and Beijing. Manuel is the current German national champion.

Jamis backs new cross country squad

Seamus McGrath will head up the new Jamis cross country team
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)

Jamis expanded its mountain bike sponsorship for 2009 by adding a cross country program to its existing Jamis Gravity program. The new Jamis Factory Racing team will focus on cross country, all-mountain and endurance races as well as mountain bike festivals in North, Central and South America.

Seamus McGrath, two-time Canadian Olympian, Commonwealth Games medalist, and short track champion will head the squad after a successful 2008, during which he collected two top-10 placings in the UCI World Cup.

McGrath is joined by former Canadian National team member Chris Sheppard, who won stages at both the BC Bike Race and the Trans Rockies last year. For 2009, he will be targeting the US Cup and epic, single-day events such as the Downieville Classic and the Fruita Fat Tire Festival.

McGrath and Sheppard will partner for the BC Bike and Intermontaine races in British Columbia.

"I'm excited to be returning from the last couple of years' worth of European racing with great support, familiar teammates. It's shaping up to be a great year." Excited about the US Cup and ProXCT series, he added, "I think the new series will bring the return of excitement and high level competition to the US."

Black Harlan and team manager / athlete Jason Sager complete the squad. Sager brings several wins to the team including a stage from 2008's BC Bike and a win at the Rincon Ultimate Dirt Challenge in Puerto Rico. Harlan, new to the professional ranks, will compete in Colorado's Mountain State Cup events and national-level events.

"This has been a true collaborative effort," said team manager, Sager. "Working with MTB product manager Craig Hoyt and Jamis President Carine Joannou has proven to be a hands-on and family effort in picking the riders, equipment, and our schedule."

Team Jamis will race the full suspension, high modulus carbon fiber Dakar XCR.

NZ MTB Cup this weekend in Timaru

Timaru will serve as the second venue to host New Zealand's South Island Mountain Bike Cup this weekend. Located conveniently in the center of town, Centennial Park will host Sunday's cross country race, the X-Scenic event, involving multiple laps on the park's trail network.

Brendon Sharratt will be the rider to beat in the elite men's field after a stunning win in the Otago Peninsula Challenge last weekend. Sharratt's competition is likely to come from within a group of five U23 riders in the elite field, with Nelson's George Bennett eager to continue his strong road cycling form in his first national level mountain bike event this summer. Carl Jones is also in good race form after a run of injuries in 2008, and he knows the importance of leading the U23 riders across the finish line against the established elites.

In the elite women's race Samara Sheppard and Katherine O'Neill are the youngest entrants and they will face off against an elite field of considerable experience.

Adrian Retief has made the trip down from Auckland and will compete against a group of South Island U19 riders who have impressed so far this summer.

See Cyclingnews' coverage of round one of the cross country and downhill South Island MTB Cup.

Sauser picks up sponsor

Christoph Sauser
Photo ©: PixStream
(Click for larger image)

World Champion Christoph Sauser picked up an unusual personal sponsor, one of the world's biggest Chrome and Manganese mining companies based in Johannesburg, South Africa. DCMchrome will appear on Sauser's kit.

The company, which has mines all over Africa, is no stranger to mountain bike sponsorship. The company also owns and manages the DCM Chrome mountain bike racing team, with a focus on developing young riders in South Africa.

"I am very excited about this long term sponsorship," said Ian van der Walt, CEO of DCMchrome. "Christoph is a role model for the sport of mountain biking and is giving so much back to South African cycling." Sauser spends much of his winter and early spring training and racing in South Africa.

"How cool is it to have a South African sponsor, a country that I have been visiting to train for over a decade," said Sauser.

Stander sticks with Mr. Price

Burry Stander in his new team kit.
Photo ©: Ron Gaunt / Sportzpics.net
(Click for larger image)

Although Burry Stander has signed with one of the world's most well-known teams, Specialized, he has retained his long-time sponsor Mr. Price, whose logo will continue to appear on Stander's kit when he races in his home country of South Africa. Mr Price, a South African clothing, sport and home retail store giant, extended its support of Stander.

"My relationship with Mr Price goes back to 2000. They have been a consistent sponsor of mountain biking in South Africa for a long time; since before the sport became so popular," said Stander.

Stander had a phenomenal 2008, his second year in the Under 23 division, where his highlights included winning the South African Championships (for a sixth time), capturing the silver medal at the Under23 World Championships, finishing 15th at the Olympic Games and winning the Under 23 World Cup title.

"Mr Price has been very loyal to me over the years and I believe it's important to honour that loyalty with loyalty. Fortunately Specialized was very understanding and agreed to allow me to race in co-branded kit when I'm in South Africa," said Stander.

Burry Stander on his way to a victory
Photo ©: Gary Perkin
(Click for larger image)

The 21-year-old will compete in cross country, marathon and stage races in South Africa and the rest of the world. He will partner with current World Champion and Specialized teammate, Christoph Sauser, in the upcoming Cape Epic, where they are among the favourites to win.

Stander is also mentoring a trio of talented young South Africans on the new Mr Price Scott team which comprises current national junior men's cross-country and marathon champion, Rourke Croeser, current national youth men's cross-country champion, Arno du Toit and top junior woman Caitlin de Wet.

"It's a small, focused team with loads of talent which I will support and mentor. This is something I didn't have at that stage in my career, but which I believe is important to help them make the jump from young champions to elite champions," said Stander.

De Brink-Ten Tusscher mountain bike team presented

By Marcel Slagman

The De Brink - Ten Tusscher team
Photo ©: Marcel Slagman
(Click for larger image)

The Jan ten Tusscher mountain bike team was presented in Hengelo, The Netherlands, on Thursday. The team, which is sponsored by De Brink direct mail and bike manufacturer Focus, will be headed by team manager Ten Tusscher, who has made the move from managing international-level teams to focusing on young, Dutch talent.

The team boasts six young, talented Dutch riders with five of them not yet 21. Axel Bult is the "old guy" in the team at 27-years-old. In 2007, he was the Dutch national marathon champion and he looks to defend that title in 2009 as well as race at the Dutch cross country championships.

The team's young crop of riders include Tim Lemmers (19), Marco Minnaard (19), Erik Groen (19), Henk-Jaap Moorlag (18) and Jelmer Jubbega (20) . Moorlag finished seventh at the World Championship junior race in 2008 and all but Jubbega are members of a new group based out of the Dutch Olympic training center.

The five young riders of Ten Tusscher will race predominantly Dutch races, but will also gain experience at the German Bundesliga series, at which the espoir category races separately from the elites.

Lemmers, Groen, Minnaard, Moorlag and Jubbega will also race as part of the Dutch national team during the European Championships in Zoetermeer, The Netherlands and in the UCI World Championships in Australia.

Maxxis Cup International 2009

The Maxxis Cup International announced its calendar for the 2009 season. The downhill events will all be UCI category 1 events and the first round will be celebrated in its traditional location of Gouveia, Portugal on March 15.

Maxxis Cup International 2009
March 15: Gouveia, Portugal
March 22; Vigo, Spain
May 3: Guimaraes, Portugal
June 28: Port Ain, Spain

For more information, visit www.maxxiscup.com

"Gravity Triple Bill" set for Slovenia

Slovenia will be host three consecutive weekends of gravity-fed racing in June, covering three venues in three different regions of the country.

The show will start in Kranjska Gora with the downhill European Championships. Then, the caravan moves on to Maribor for the fifth round of downhill and 4X UCI World Cup. A week later, another important race, the 4X European Championships will run on the "Black Thorn" track in Ajdovscina.

Slovenian Gravity Triple
June 12-14: Hit Downhill European Championships, Kranjska Gora
June 20-21: UCI World Cup, 4X/DH, Maribor
June 27: 4X European Championships, Ajdovscina

Bikes Belong Awards $50,000 in Grants

Bikes Belong awarded six grants to organizations in Alabama, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Virginia, and Texas. Several mountain bike projects will each get a US$10,000 boost from the awards.

Birmingham Urban Mountain Pedalers (BUMP) will help build the Lake Trail in Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama. BUMP will connect two sections of singletrack that are currently linked by a roadway while creating a three-mile mountain-bike loop specifically for beginners.

Page Valley Cycling Club will build a pump track and trails for new mountain bikers in the town of Shenandoah. The path and pump track will provide the first natural-surface riding in Page County, Virginia.

The Great Houston Off-Road Bicycling Association will use its award to expand the trail network at Double Lake Recreation Area. Shortly after receiving an award last year, Hurricane Ike destroyed nearly 2,000 volunteer-hours worth of trail, so the group spend the first grant rebuilding the trails instead of expanding the trail system. This grant will enable the group to proceed with the expansion.

Other recipients include the Peoples Advocacy for Trails, Hawaii (PATH) which will work toward more active, sustainable transportation in Hawaii; the City of Ellsworth, Maine, which will connect sections of the Ellsworth Rail Trail and link to the 86-mile Downeast Sunrise Trail; and the Brooklyn Greenway Initiative, which will work with the New York City Department of Transportation to develop a comprehensive plan for the 14-mile Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway.

(Additional editorial assistance from Susan Westemeyer)

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