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MTB news & racing round-up for June 13, 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

US ProXCT finale may get earlier date

By Sue George

The men's start at the US ProTour's Bump 'n' Grind
Photo ©: Dave McElwaine
(Click for larger image)
The finals of the US ProXCT elite cross country races, now scheduled for Saturday, September 26, may be moving up a few days on the calendar. Organizers are considering shifting the finale of the seven-race series to be run in conjunction with Dirt Demo at Interbike on Tuesday, September 22.

"We're pursuing the change aggressively and we have support from major industry teams," said Ty Kady to Cyclingnews on behalf of series organizers. "But nothing is definite yet. We still have to sell it to the organizers of the Dirt Demo." Kady expects to know for certain by about June 15, so racers and team support personnel may want to hold on finalizing travel plans. The Dirt Demo is the outdoors, test portion of the Interbike Trade Show.

Kady outlined several reasons for the change, despite the fact that the new date comes only a few days after the previous weekend's UCI World Cup final round. First, many of the mountain bikers will be trying to make the cyclo-cross USGP in Wisconsin on the weekend of September 26-27, and the new date would enable racers to do both events. Those not racing 'cross would also be able to finish their USProXCT series before standing on their feet for several days at the Interbike trade show.

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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On the flip side, some riders and support personal may have already made travel arrangements with the original date, and those returning state-side from the World Cup in Europe will have overcome the jetlag with just three days in between events.

Regardless of whether the elite ProXCT finals move, amateurs will still race on September 26 as originally scheduled.

Chengyuan takes third Chinese title

Ren Chengyuan (Chinese National Team) at the Offenburg World Cup
Photo ©: Rob Jones
(Click for larger image)
For the third time in a row, Ren Chengyuan (Orbea Jiangsu) won the Chinese National Championships. She finished well ahead of her compatriots.

"I'm very happy to have won," said Chengyuan after finishing second in the sixth and final race of the championship series. "It was very tricky race, but I gave it everything I had. I can't wait to go and celebrate it with my team. We've had a fantastic season."

The Orbea Jiangsu biker won all five previous races in the series, but conceded the final one to fellow Orbea racer Liu Ying. Chengyuan's season so far has been a good one. In addition to winning the World Cup in Offenburg, she finished third at the World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium.

"I love Offenburg and Houffalize," she said. "They're both spectaculars circuits where you can really feel the fans get behind you. I was lucky enough to win at Offenburg and get on the podium at Houffalize."

The Asian rider will get her next chance to excel internationally at the World Championships in Canberra, Australia in early September.

"The World Championships is a truly wonderful competition," she said. "I'll be going all out in Australia."

Kugler signs for Multivan Merida Team

Andreas Kugler signed with the Multivan Merida team, effective immediately. The Swiss racer will specialized in marathon races for the team. Together with Hannes Genze, he will compete in international stage races.

Kugler achieved a third place overall at the Cape Epic in March. At the end of April, he left his former team following a contract dispute. Kugler used to ride for Felt International team, a team which recently lost its title sponsorship.

Kugler and Genze have long raced together. At the European Marathon Championships in 2005, the entered the final home straight together and Genze won the race by just a few centimeters over Kugler. The team will do events such as the Trans Schwarzwald, the Trans Germany and the TransAlp Challenge.

Kugler is replacing, Jochen Kass, who is shifting his focus to Olympic distance cross country events.

O'Deas back to regular racing

Namrita and Eddie O'Dea
Photo ©: Ronnie Fields
(Click for larger image)
Former Cyclingnews diarists, Eddie and Namrita O'Dea, have had a hectic first half of the year, but not only due to riding and racing. Namrita finished up her master's degree in nutrition last month. Eddie has been travelling and racing for their team Topeak Ergon.

"It turned into a lot more time writing than riding a bike," said Namrita of her spring spent finishing up graduate school.

Meanwhile, Eddie kicked of his season with the Cohutta 100, but had some back luck off the start line when he flatted. During the race, he passed 100 people to finish with what he called a "respectable" time. From there, it was off to a local six-hour race in Georgia where he finished fourth and the Dirt Sweat & Gears, which might better have been called the Mud, Sweat and Gears this year.

"I don't think any of the racers had ever encountered such mud that just stuck to everything. Riders were carrying (not riding) 90 to 100-pound bikes around the 11-mile course," said Eddie. "It turned to be more of a hike-a-bike race than an actual mountain bike race but it was still a good time as the party went on."

The pair raced the Gunnison Growler 65-mile event at altitude in Colorado, where Namrita finished second in her class. Next, they will head to the Lumberjack 100, the Wilderness 101 and the Fool's Gold 100, the latter which they promote.

The pair is riding Rotwild frames for the season, of course with Ergon GX grips.

Avanti signs Leary

Elite New Zealand mountain biker Nic Leary signed a two-year sponsorship deal with Avanti bikes. The timing couldn't be better for Leary, who is departing for seven-week training and racing trip to Canada, which will culminate in two rounds of the UCI World Cup, before she heads back to the southern hemisphere for the World Championships.

"It is pretty cool to be representing a New Zealand company internationally," said Leary, who entered her first race in 2007. She's quickly been working her way up the ranks of the sport. In 2009, she was second in both the New Zealand national cross country and marathon championship. She is also the current New Zealand Xterra off-road triathlon champion.

In the short term, Leary's focus is on mountain bike and Xterra worlds, but looking ahead, she has her eye on a spot on the Olympic Games team in 2012.

"I'm just trying to be the best athlete I can be. For now I'm chasing international experience and competition to develop to my full potential. And have a lot of fun, competing in cool races along the way."

Leary is also sponsored by DT Swiss and Kenda.

The unsinkable battleship

By James Huang

Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda-Seven-NoTubes)
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)
It is common practice for top-level racers to receive all-new machines each season - or even more often - but current US national cross-country champion Mary McConneloug (Team Kenda-Seven-NoTubes) is bucking that trend in a big way. Seven Cycles built McConneloug's custom Sola Gold during the lead-up to the 2004 Olympics and that same frame is now soldiering through its sixth season on the World Cup circuit.

McConneloug's Seven is one of just a handful of titanium bikes currently on the scene yet the 37-year-old California native that now calls Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts home sees no disadvantage relative to her mostly carbon-equipped competition. In fact, McConneloug is quite proud of the fact that this same machine has carried her through two Olympic games and four national titles and there's little mistaking that she doesn't look forward to the day when it eventually gives up the ghost - if that day ever comes.

"I've ridden a carbon fiber bike and I like it but there's something about a titanium bike," she said. "It just feels so good riding off-road and I just have this intuition that it's my favorite bike. I love it and I prefer to ride [titanium]; there's nothing like it. It feels so perfect. It's almost like a relief - the frame is the same and only the parts are changing each season. You don't need a new bike every year unless it's not working."

McConneloug prefers the 28/42T chainring combination
(Click for larger image)

Indeed, a comparably sized carbon fiber hardtail frame might be a bit lighter - claimed weight for the Sola Gold frame is about 1.45kg (3.2lb) - but McConneloug's complete bike is still highly competitive at just 8.74kg (19.27lb). More importantly, it fits her 1.66m (5' 6") build perfectly as Seven was free to operate outside the usual constraints of a fixed carbon fiber mold and adjusted the angles and tube dimensions specifically to suit her slight climber's build - the seat tube measures a stubby 373mm (c-c) and the head tube just 90mm from end to end but the top tube is still a relatively rangy 558mm.

A carbon frame is likely also stiffer as well but the slight give of McConneloug's aggressively butted Seven may actually be a positive, leaving her fresher and less beat up towards the end of a race.

"It's really a race course-specific bike," added teammate/mechanic/husband Michael Broderick. "You could ride the thing anywhere but really where it's happiest is [at] World Cups and cross-country racing."

Read the complete article.

New York gravity race series happening this weekend

Round two of the New York State Championship downhill series and round one of the dual slalom series will happen at Plattekill Bike Park in Roxbury, New York, this weekend, June 13-14.

Thanks to trail preparation of a few weeks, organizers have a professional / category one downhill course in the classic Northeast US style, with drops, roots, steep chutes, berms and a few pieces of shale. Category two and three racers will try their legs on a separate track with berms and kickers.

Racers also tackling the dual slalom will get an entry fee discount of US$10.

In addition to the racing action, the movie "Right Coast Rippers" by VonCooper Productions will premier during the weekend.

For more information, visit www.plattekill.com.

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