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MTB news & racing round-up for June 3, 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

Bishop unseats Schalk from throne at Mohican

By Barry Kunkle in Ohio

Jeremiah Bishop (MonaVie Cannondale) wins
Photo ©: Mark Farmer
(Click for larger image)

Unlike any other 100 miler to date, six men made it to the final six miles of the Mohican 100 in Ohio as a group, where the last bit of singletrack determined the final placing of the day. Jeremiah Bishop of Monavie-Cannondale locked elbows with National Ultra Endurance (NUE) series leader Jeff Schalk (Trek Racing Co-Op) racing for the hole shot, but chose to stay safe and went in second only to come around a few minutes later in the singletrack with a crafty pass on the right as Schalk looked left. That was all Bishop needed to leave the chasers behind and take his first win and the overall lead of the 2009 NUE series.

An ecstatic Bishop couldn't say enough about how great the racing was. "The race was spectacular and how I envision a professional level 100 miler can look like if enough strong riders show up. It's unheard of to have six guys come into the final miles to the finish."

This round two of the NUE visited the tranquil rolling hills of Ohio on Saturday with over 400 riders filling up the main street of the small town of Loudonville. In the swollen streets, riders had come from across the country to create what was arguably the most competitive men's 100 miler to date. Though the Leadville 100 might be the numbers king, the depth of the talent at this Mohican was more akin to watching a European Spring Classic with its assortment of favorites, contenders and dark horses.

Hundreds of racers started
Photo ©: Mark Farmer
(Click for larger image)

Early crashes and a strong pace separated the final group of six riders almost immediately. The lead feature a promising group with most of the race favorites. Bishop, Schalk, Tinker Juarez, Brandon Draugelis, Michael Simonson and Christian Tanguy stayed together through the entire opening 25 miles of singletrack. Initially, a second group chased at just one minute back.

With its 11,000 feet of climbing, the course profile of the Mohican looks like the serrated edge of a knife. Frequent short steep climbs interspersed with sections of singletrack kept the pure climbers like Schalk at bay, while Bishop's singletrack prowess was less useful as a get away tool until the end.

Bishop said, "[It was] like a Classics race - every rider was trying to use their strengths to his advantage. Schalk and Simonson were crushing it on the road sections." On the two- to four-minute climbs Schalk was trying to drop or at least tire out the group, but with five people chasing, it was impossible for him to stay away as the chasers could roll along quickly en masse.

"I underestimated how good everyone was for the day. I've raced all these people before, and I think everyone had one of their best days on a bike," said Schalk. "I expected at least two people to fall off the pace. Eventually I paid for my efforts attacking on the hills in the last piece of singletrack."

After loosing the final hole shot to Bishop, he also lost one final spot to Tanguy in the final mile on a short piece of new trail that was so steep that Schalk's tired legs said "no" while Tanguy found the motivation to stay on the bike and muscle up to take second overall. Schalk stayed ahead of the rest of the members of the original six-man lead group and kept a third overall for the day.

With his win, Bishop leads the series by just one point over Schalk.

Shogren dominates women's Mohican 100

Women's podium
Photo ©: Mark Farmer
(Click for larger image)

Lacking the fireworks of the men's race, the women's run for the podium looked like the more traditional 100-mile race scenario we've come to expect. Leading from the start, Betsy Shogren (Cannondale Factory Racing) went to the front and set a steady pace that kept her competitors behind. Still suffering from a cold, Shogren's round one Cohutta 100 race was less than ideal for her, but renewed and healthy, she arrived to the hills of the Mohican 100 with an eye on first place.

A good start with the fast-moving group going up the road in the beginning miles gave Shogren an advantage over her closest competitors after Cheryl Sorenson (Trek Racing Co-Op), Danielle Musto (Kenda-Tomac-Hayes) and Karen Potter (MTBMind.com) were caught behind less technically savvy riders in the first 25 miles of singletrack. Last year's series winner, Sorenson, returned to the 100 miler format after missing the first race of the year. Musto was in a good position to challenge for a top spot but also missed the same turn as many of the men and added an extra 10 miles to her day.

Despite the lack of fireworks, 18 women showed for the race and Shogren's time would have put her in 45th overall, beating the majority of the men in the race.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Mohican 100, including the singlespeed and masters' categories.

Taberlay and Pendrel sprint to Bump'n'Grind victories

By Dave McElwaine in Pelham, Alabama

Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air/Specialized) won the final Sprint
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)

Sid Taberlay (Sho-Air/Specialized) and Catharine Pendrel (Luna) won the elite Bump 'n' Grind races at Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama, last weekend.

Taberlay took an exciting sprint finish against Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Gary Fisher/Subaru). Taberlay's teammate Max Plaxton finished third and retained the ProXCT leader's jersey.

After a great start, Taberlay found himself at the front with Plaxton, Horgan-Kobelski, Todd Wells (Specialized), Geoff Kabush (Maxxis-Rocky Mountain), and Seamus McGrath (Jamis). The pace took its toll on some of the group members.

"The race might have looked like fun, and probably was fun in practice," said Taberlay, "but the race certainly was not as much fun. There was always someone pushing the pace. I think most of the day we were all hoping the finish line was coming a bit quicker than it did.

"I attacked up the final climb," Taberlay said. "JHK came across but I pretty much just sat on him…and waited until the right opportunity at the finish."

Horgan-Kobelski appeared stronger and more aggressive than any other outing this season. "I felt great," he said. "I was trying to make hard moves from the start to whittle down that group rather than roll the dice at the end. I was climbing as well or better than anyone out there.

"Sid and Max literally sat on my wheel right until the finish," said Horgan-Kobelski. "There was nothing I could do."All wasn't lost, however for Horgan Kobelski, who marked his 100th career podium placing with his second.

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

Number-one in the world Pendrel got her first US Cup win after battling her teammate Georgia Gould in an exciting sprint finish. Katerina Nash made it a clean sweep for the Luna squad by finishing third.

A lead group of women quickly formed including Pendrel, Nash, and Gould as well as US cyclo-cross champion Katie Compton (Team Sho-Air), who later withdrew from the race and headed to the hospital after she suffered an asthma attack. Nash was eventually dropped as the tough road sections took their toll.

"Georgia and I were off the front," said Pendrel. "That's where we really started to work like a team. We tried to drive the pace as hard as we could. I don't win many sprints, so I knew if I could jump the last corner I could win…and that's what I did."

Pendrel fought hard and smart on the final run to the finish line, according to Gould. "I pulled the whole way down the pavement," said Gould. "I probably should have gone a little bit more inside on the corner because she kind of chopped me on the corner. But that's racing. I'll get to chop her in the next race."

It was a special day for JHK's teammate partner, Heather Irmiger (Gary Fisher / Subaru), too. She celebrated her 30th birthday at the race, and spectators sung to her on the start line.

Gould retained the ProXCT leader's jersey, despite finishing runner up. The next US Cup race will be in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on June 13-14.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the Bump 'n' Grind, including plenty of photos.

Plaxton and Gould lead ProXCT standings

Following the Bump and Grind, the third of seven events, the standings for the USA Cycling Pro Cross Country Tour (ProXCT) are as follows:

Men's Individual Standings

1 Max Plaxton (Can) Sho-Air-Specialized           285
2 Sid Taberlay (Aus) Sho-Air-Specialized          280
2 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher 280
4 Todd Wells (USA) Specialized Factory Racing     225
5 Sam Schultz (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher            200

Women's Individual Standings

1 Georgia Gould (USA) Luna                        305
2 Catherine Pendrel (Can) Luna                    295
3 Kelli Emmett (USA) Giant                        245
4 Heather Irmiger (USA) Subaru-Gary Fisher        240
5 Pua Sawicki (USA) Ellsworth                     235

American Riffle blazes to first in Verbier ahead of a chainless Beer

Pugin wins women's race

Duncan Riffle (DRR/Giantnerd) won
Photo ©: Martin Platter
(Click for larger image)

After having qualified as third fastest, America's Duncan Riffle (DRR/Giantnerd) won the iXS European Downhill Cup's first race of the season in Verbier last weekend, clearly beating the times of New Zealand's Matthew Scoles (Bike NZ), Ireland's Ben Reid (Just Reid Race Team) and the surprisingly fast German Benny Strasser (Toxoholic/iXS) under completely different conditions than in the seeding run.

In the women's race, France's Floriane Pugin (Ironhorse) posted the fastest time, edging out Swiss national champion Emilie Siegenthaler (Scott 11) and Ecuador's Diana Marggraff (Zenith).

For the athletes, it was a tricky weekend with constantly changing weather and course conditions. "Both the choice of tires and the suspension set-up were not easy given the changing conditions," said men's winner Riffle, who added that he did not take big risks during his final run.

Faster qualifier Nick Beer (Scott 11) flatted immediately after the start of the final run, and in fact, it was his elder brother Marcel who drew most of the attention by riding without a chain all weekend.

Sans chain, he finished in fifth overall and as the fastest Swiss rider of the day. The lack of a chain was caused by a missing derailleur mount on GT's exotic full carbon downhill bike. "I wanted to finish in a time of 3:30," he said. Well, it turned out to be a 3:14, which is rather surprising considering that some non-downward sloping portions of the course forced him to propel himself forward by doing running-like motions on his bike in order not to lose too much speed.

"Just wait until I have got a chain on my bike again," said Beer, teasing his competitors.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the iXS European Downhill Cup in Verbier.

McGrath takes Jamis to Bump and Grind podium

Seamus McGrath (Jamis) rides well
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)
Carrying momentum from two victories the weekend before with wins in Vermont and Utah, Team Jamis traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, for round three of the US Cup ProXCT at the Bump and Grind.

The race was to be the debut of new team member and six-time Israeli national champion Rotem Ishay, 22, in the Jamis colors, and he didn't disappoint, quickly joining Canadian Olympian Seamus McGrath at the front of the race.

After the race, American Olympian Todd Wells acknowledged the 22-year-old Rotem's aggression, "Rotem was one of the few guys to repeatedly push the pace. He was always attacking anytime there was a lull. He caused most of the split at the front of the race. That kid's going to be dangerous."

As the front group whittled down from a group of 10 in the early laps to ultimately seven riders on the last lap, the final selection came down to a crush of power and speed over the last hill with three kilometers to go. McGrath's experience and savvy allowed him to stay cool and focused, holding onto fifth place to round out the podium and mark his return to US racing.

"Explosive racing is a style that challenges me," said McGrath, who credited the hardtail Jamis he rode for its role in his success. McGrath's Jamis teammate Ishay, in his first race as a senior pro, held onto ninth place after his early race aggression.

The team will race next in Vail, Colorado, at the Teva Games, and the then at the fourth round of the US ProXCT in Cheyenne National Park, Colorado.

Five in a row for Fullana

Fresh off her win at the Madrid World cup last weekend, World Champion Marga Fullana (Massi) continued her winning streak with another win at home in Spain this past weekend. This time, she took the Superprestigio Massi round at Iles Balears, win number five of five.

Fullana raced on a seven-kilometer loop with steep, paved climbs and some stones that caused many to flat.

See Cyclingnews' full results from the Superprestigio Massi round this past weekend.

Barel back on track

Fabien Barel proved his recovery from a knee injury is going well with a podium finish in the first round of the French national downhill series this past weekend.

The small French ski resort of Lac Blanc, near the recent World Cup venue in La Bresse, hosted the weekend of racing, and Barel was excited to get on his bike after walking the track and seeing that it would be an interesting course to race. The track was short but filled with technical sections and loose dusty turns.

Race day dawned a little cloudy, and some riders were concerned about possible afternoon thunderstorms. Barel's first run went well. He rode within his limits and hit all of his lines although he suffered in the lower parts where he could not pedal with as much power needed to do the hard lines. However, he still qualified second behind Michael Pascal.

Barel made only slight mistakes in the final and logged almost the same time as in qualifying. He was riding with a knee brace that restricted his motion somewhat and caused pain, but he still ended up in third.

After the race Barel said he was happy to be back on a bike, but a little frustrated to not be able to push during his race runs as much as he used to. Yet he knows he needs to be patient and continue his recovery, especially while racing with his knee brace.

Barel and his Subaru Pro teammates will head next to the gravity World Cup in Fort William this weekend.

See Cyclingnews' full results from the French Cup downhill in Lac Blanc.

Reade out of action for four months due to injury

By Matthew Cole, BikeRadar

Shanaze Reade is back
Photo ©: Stephen McMahon
(Click for larger image)
Shanaze Reade, the British Olympian and two-time world BMX champion, has injured her right shoulder in a training accident, and has been ruled out of competing for four months.

The 20-year-old was due to make her mountain bike competition debut riding four-cross at this weekend's UCI World Cup round in Fort William, Scotland.

Reade fell off her bike and landed on the shoulder she injured two years ago. She's likely to need keyhole surgery.

"I'm very disappointed that I can't race at the BMX World's this year," she said. "I really wanted to get out there and defend my title. I'm also disappointed that I can't make my mountain bike debut in the four-cross at the World Cup.

"My focus now is on recovery and getting back into training as soon as I can, so I can begin my preparations for London 2012."

Topless downhillers win 10 Under The Ben

Three downhill specialists from Fort William, Alistair MacLennan, Joe Barnes and Liam Moynihan, beat the cross country competition to win the men's trio category of the Benromach 10 Under The Ben endurance race this past Saturday in Scotland. The team completed 11 laps of the 10-mile course while riding topless, and they were rewarded with a dram of Benromach single malt whisky at the finish.

Now in its fifth year, the event was once more bathed in glorious sunshine as 482 of the record total of 947 endurance riders taking part gathered for the mass start ready to do battle with Forestry Commission Scotland's Leanachan Forest, the highland midge and the ongoing threat of heat exhaustion, all set against the stunning backdrop of Ben Nevis.

Michael Bossard, from Oban, proved tougher than any other man in the solo category completing the gruelling 10 mile course a total of 10 times in 10 hours 29 minutes. Helen Finlay was the top female solo competitor completing eight laps of the course in the 10-hour frame.

"We are delighted to have such a vast range of riders enjoying themselves on the course, making it a fantastic day out for everyone," said No Fuss Events' Frazer Coupland. "It was a superb weekend weather-wise, though I am telling everyone to brace themselves for rain in 2010 as our luck has to run out at some point."

10 Under the Ben was the first event of the Benromach Three Tens Series. The next round is the 10 at Kirroughtree on July 11 at Galloway Forest Park.

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