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MTB News and Notes: No whining

Got a message this week and it’s for the vast majority of the world’s elite gravity racers — or at least the ones who were at Alpe d’Huez. You all need to stop whining, bitching, moaning and protesting, and start paying attention to the writing on the wall. Because if you read it, you’ll see that right now more than ever, the sport of mountain-bike racing needs solidarity, not sit-down strikes. Now, I don’t doubt that the courses at Alpe d’Huez were sub-standard. The legend of UCI course designer Frank Roman and his general lack of competence is well known. Just last year he refused (or

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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor

You can't make me....

You can’t make me….

Photo: Mark Dawson – Fattirefotos.com

Got a message this week and it’s for the vast majority of the world’s elite gravity racers — or at least the ones who were at Alpe d’Huez. You all need to stop whining, bitching, moaning and protesting, and start paying attention to the writing on the wall. Because if you read it, you’ll see that right now more than ever, the sport of mountain-bike racing needs solidarity, not sit-down strikes.

Now, I don’t doubt that the courses at Alpe d’Huez were sub-standard. The legend of UCI course designer Frank Roman and his general lack of competence is well known. Just last year he refused (or didn’t bother) to put a non-slip surface on the start-gate ramp at the four-cross finals in Les Gets, even though everyone there with half a brain said it needed one.

But I’ll tell ya, I bet the few out-of-industry sponsors who’ve bothered to stick around this sport would rather see these issues worked out behind closed doors, instead of at the base of the mountain for every spectator there to see. Can’t imagine parking your butt in the grass is the best way to sell Siemens cell phones. All that’s doing is perpetuating the big old stink vibe that is running rampant through this sport right now.

Along that same vein, I must take issue with some riders/teams who have opted out of the Jeep King of the Mountain series because of the restrictions placed on sponsor logos (industry sponsors — Trek, Cannondale, etc. — are okay, but no competing corporate sponsors — like car companies — are allowed).

Now I understand that Hyundai, for example, shells out big bucks to support the likes of Eric Carter and Brian Lopes. But isn’t national television exposure for a Hyundai athlete sans Hyundai logos better than no exposure at all? Seems like the obvious answer is yes, but apparently someone from the Hyundai-Mongoose and Hyundai-GT teams doesn’t agree, because they’re not sending their athletes. Guess a 100 large and more TV time than they’ll get at all the NORBAs and World Cups combined wasn’t a big enough lure.

Far as I’m concerned as long as people keep making such shortsighted decisions and not thinking about the long-term ramifications, the sport of mountain biking will continue to swirl around the edges of the sink getting ever closer to the drain.

Telluride back in the game
Speaking of the Jeep KOM, looks like stop No. 2 is going to end up in Telluride, Colorado on July 19. That’s good news for Telluride, which saw its World Cup stop implode this spring. Let’s hope that whoever does show up puts on a good show, so that the MTB KoM will stick around as long as its skiing brethren.

What, me worry?
After what had to be considered a disastrous trip to Europe for the start of the World Cup campaign, American Alison Dunlap said she hasn’t pushed the panic button just yet. Dunlap, who won the World Cup title last year and never finished worse than fifth, opened the 2003 season by finishing 12th and 17th at St. Wendel and Fort William respectively.

“I’m looking at it as just a blip on the radar screen,” the Luna rider said. “I’m not concerned yet.”

Dunlap added that it was the start of the first two World Cups that really gave her problems. “They just killed me,” she said. “It felt like a men’s race. I don’t remember them ever starting that fast. I just couldn’t maintain that in the beginning, but by the end I was fine, killing almost everybody else.”

Dunlap and the rest of the North American crew are headed to Snowshoe, West Virginia this weekend for the second stop of the NORBA series. Says here she pulls it back together — albeit under easier competitive conditions — and wins the cross country and short track races.

Shonny returns
While Dunlap was battling in Europe, Luna teammate Shonny Vanlandingham has just been trying to get back on the bike. After breaking her collarbone at Sea Otter, Vanlandingham missed all of May and part of June, and when she did finally get back on the bike, she started out by just doing climbs on her road bike, then having someone pick her up at the top because she was still to sore to descend.

But finally last weekend the Durango, Colorado, resident got back on the mountain bike, winning both the short track and cross-country races at the Teva Mountain Games in Vail. Vanlandingham said she had initially planned on heading to the Mountain States Cup event at Angel Fire, New Mexico, but when she caught wind of the prize money on offer at Vail she opted to head north. Turned out to be a good call, which netted her $1750 for a weekend’s worth of work.

“It was a really small field,” Vanlandingham said, guessing that maybe six women started the pro race. As for the collarbone, “It’s definitely still sore, but that was a good test before West Virginia.”

Tasty Colombian cross country
Looks like the field for the women’s cross country at the Pan American Championships this weekend in Medillin, Colombia is going to have a bit of star power. Besides American Kim Anderson, also towing the line will be multi-time world champion Alison Sydor and rising star Kiara Bisaro, both representing Canada. Just like the Americans, the Canucks are making the long trip south in search of valuable UCI points, hoping to boost their standing in the UCI nation rankings, which will determine the number of start spots at next years Olympics.

Joining Sydor and Bisaro will be men’s hopefuls Roddi Lega, Ricky Federau (U23) and Max Plaxton (junior). The cross-country race in Colombia is scheduled for Sunday.

Pick Time
Didn’t do so hot with last weekend’s Alp d’Huez predictions (1-for-4, with Anne-Caroline Chausson’s downhill win the only winner), but we’ll give it another go this week with NORBA No. 2 in West Virginia. As I wrote above, look for Alison Dunlap to reestablish herself by doubling up with short track and cross-country wins.

In the men’s endurance races, I smell continuing trouble for Canada’s dynamic duo of Roland Green and Ryder Hesjedal (both had disappointing trips to Europe). Let’s give Hesjedal the short track win in a nail biter, but go for the upset in cross country with Geoff Kabush finally leap-frogging his countrymen and grabbing victory.

Over in mountain-cross with Brian Lopes out for two months, every race is now Eric Carter’s to lose. That won’t happen this week, give EC his second NORBA mountain cross triumph of the season. As for the women, American Jill Kintner didn’t have much luck during her first MTB sortie to Europe (apparently the airlines lost her bikes more than once, and she didn’t even bother with Alpe d’Huez). But the speedy BMX’er should be ready to rock this time around. Mark down Kintner for the MX win.

With the departure of Chausson and Nicolas Vouilloz, and injuries slowing Steve Peat and Sabrina Jonnier, the downhill has become a crapshoot of late. First came Carter’s unexpected win at Big Bear, then the lightly touted Celine Gros won at Fort William, and finally chronic underachiever Nathan Rennie broke through in France. Let’s go with a continuance of surprises and tab young Aussie speedster Sam Hill as the West Virginia winner

As for the women, give the DH “W” to Britain’s Tracy Moseley, who has quietly become the best female gravity racer not named Anne.



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