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MTB news and notes: World Cup schedule set…

The final piece of the 2003 World Cup schedule has fallen into place, as the UCI announced Thursday that France’s famed Alpe d’Huez will host the second stop of the downhill/four-cross World Cup series. The event will be the final event in the opening European leg of the series and will take place June 7-8. Here’s the complete schedule:May 24-25: St. Wendel, Germany – XC No. 1May 31-June 1: Fort William, Scotland – XC No. 2/DH-4X No. 1June 7-8: Alpe d’Huez, France – DH-4X No. 2June 28-29: Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec - XC No. 3/DH-4X No. 3July 5-6: Telluride, Colorado - XC No. 4/DH-4X No. 4July

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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor

The final piece of the 2003 World Cup schedule has fallen into place, as the UCI announced Thursday that France’s famed Alpe d’Huez will host the second stop of the downhill/four-cross World Cup series. The event will be the final event in the opening European leg of the series and will take place June 7-8.

Here’s the complete schedule:
May 24-25: St. Wendel, Germany – XC No. 1
May 31-June 1: Fort William, Scotland – XC No. 2/DH-4X No. 1
June 7-8: Alpe d’Huez, France – DH-4X No. 2
June 28-29: Mont-Ste-Anne, Quebec – XC No. 3/DH-4X No. 3
July 5-6: Telluride, Colorado – XC No. 4/DH-4X No. 4
July 12-13: Vancouver, British Columbia – XC No. 5/DH-4X No. 5
Sept. 3-7: World championships, Lugano, Switzerland
Sept. 13-14: Kaprun, Austria – XC No. 6/DH-4X No. 6

Meirhaeghe’s many talents
Reigning overall World Cup cross-country champion Filip Meirhaeghe checked in with VeloNews this week to let us know that he’s re-upped with Specialized for two more years. The Belgian, who won silver at the 2002 mountain bike world’s, will be splitting time between mountain biking and the road, where he’ll ride for the zebra-stripe clad Acqua & Sapone team.

“In previous years I had a separate contract for my road racing,” explained Meirhaeghe. “But Specialized would rather see me racing on the road on a Specialized bike, so the deal was arranged that I would join Acqua & Sapone.”

Meirhaeghe insisted that this doesn’t mean he’s headed the way of former fat-tire peers Cadel Evans and Miguel Martinez, who both left mountain bike racing behind to pursue road careers.

“My main sport will remain mountain biking,” Meirhaeghe said. “I am under contract to do the World Cups and some NORBAs. I will also do as much road racing as I can for my training. Living in Belgium gives me lots of great road racing opportunities, all close to home.”

Meirhaeghe is also dabbling in a little track racing. Already this year he competed in the Six Days of Amsterdam and a one-day race in Ghent.

“Usually I do some cyclo-cross racing in the winter but I had the chance to try track racing, so I will do that this winter,” he said.

Merida to sign under-23 silver medalist
Following his breakout performance at the world championships, Swiss rider Ralph Näf is reportedly very close to signing a deal with Merida International. Näf rose from virtual obscurity at the world’s in Austria, besting co-favorite Ryder Hesjedal in the muddy and rainy race that was won by Frenchman Julien Absalon. Granny Gear announces 2003 calendar
The folks at Granny Gear Productions have released their 2003 racing calendar, which includes a new venue for next year, the inaugural 24 Hours of Temecula, April 26-27, in Temecula, California.

The rest of the schedule includes the 12th Annual 24 Hours of Snowshoe, June 28-29 in Snowshoe, West Virginia; the 6th Annual 24 Hours of Tahoe, August 23-24, in Lake Tahoe, California; and the 9th Annual 24 Hours of Moab, October 18-19 in Moab, Utah. For more information check out www.grannygear.com or call 304/259-5533.