Mountain Bike: Another step towards equal prize money for women

Mountain Bike: Another step towards equal prize money for women

Overall winning ladies Yolande Speedy and Catherine Williams celebrate an emotional finish at the finish line of the final stage (stage 7) of the 2013 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Stellenbosch to Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West, South Africa on the 24 March 2013 Photo by Karin Schermbrucker/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICSThe establishment of equal prize money for men and women in the mountain bike discipline has received a boost from South Africa.

The organisers of the famous Absa Cape Epic (23-30 March) and the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek (12-18 October) have taken another step in the promotion of women’s cycling: they will offer equal prize money for the 2013-2014 season. These two events, raced in pairs, are the only two South African races to have the UCI label.

Andrea Marcellini, Project Coordinator at the International Cycling Union, has competed in the mythical 800km Cape Epic. She welcomed the decision: “South Africa is doing a lot for mountain bike but also for cycling in general. I am delighted by the country’s initiative. It is a demonstration of the organisers’ respect for the athletes and their desire to increase female participation at their events.”

The UCI had already led the way by offering equal prize money at the World Championships and World Cup. The initiative that has followed from the Cape Epic and the Bridge Cape shows that private organisers are also capable of following suit and contributing to the promotion of women’s cycling.

Andrea Marcellini adds: “Equal prize money will help professional women cyclists take on their careers with more serenity. This sort of initiative can only encourage more women to enter the sport. It is excellent news but it is only one step in the recognition of women’s cycling.”

 

Photo: 2013 Absa Cape Epic / spotrzpics.com/Karin Schermbrucker

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Sandy ‘cross action in Koksijde

UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup: Sandy ‘cross action in Koksijde

Niels ALBERT (Bel)A sunny autumn day provided great racing in the third round of the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup in . All the day’s winners took solo victories on the demanding course.

Impressive win for Albert

During the fourth of nine laps he left his last rivals behind, clocking the only sub-seven minutes lap time of the day on the tough sandy course. The next four laps Albert kept going flat out and he led his first rivals by a minute, taking away any winning hopes they may have harboured. At the finish line Albert had time to copy the memorable finish from his compatriot Paul Herijgers, when the latter won the World Championships on the same location in 1994. A smiling Albert waved to the crowd, hopped off his bike and back on it before crossing the line and taking his first World Cup win of the season.
In the battle for second place German champion Philipp Walsleben (BCKP-Powerplus) and French champion Francis Mourey (FDJ.fr) had the upper hand in the final laps. The duo was joined by World Champion Sven Nys (Crelan-Euphony) and Kevin Pauwels (Sunweb-Napoleon Games) during the penultimate lap but in the sprint Mourey and Walsleben captured the final podium spots at half a minute from Albert. Despite finishing off the pace in tenth place Lars van der Haar (Rabobank Development Team) remains in the overall lead of the World Cup standings.

Compton distanced the field immediately

The US-champion never eased off and reached the finish line more than a minute ahead of runner-up Sanne Cant (Enertherm-BKCP). Belgian champion Cant battled with British champion Nikki Harris (Young Telenet-Fidea) for that second place but the young Belgian showed maturity and made no mistakes in the dunes of Koksijde.
A very quick start from Sabine Stultiens (Rabo Women Cycling Team) was rewarded with a fourth place at the finish line. Fellow quick starter Helen Wyman (Kona) blew up her engine but salvaged her World Cup ranking by placing sixth. Compton now comfortably leads the rankings with 170 points, thirty more than Harris.

Van der Poel blisters U-23 field

World Cup leader Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) left no doubt about his ambitions in the Men Under 23 category and took a blistering start in Koksijde. World Champion Mike Teunissen and Belgian champion Laurens Sweeck were the last riders to keep the Dutchman in sight. Sweeck won the battle for second place at 41s from Van der Poel. The latter strengthens his lead in the World Cup standings as previous second-placed Wout Van Aert only managed a 15th place in Koksijde. Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) was third in Koksijde and he takes over second place, forty points from the leader.

Eli Iserbyt (Belgium) remains in the lead of the World Cup standings in the Junior Men category after a sixth place in Koksijde. Iserbyt holds a narrow lead over compatriots Yannick Peeters and Kobe Goossens. The latter clearly was the best in Koksijde, attacking in the penultimate lap and finishing solo. Iserbyt finished at the back of the first chase group in the sprint at 14s from winner Goossens.

The next round of the World Cup is held at the citadel in Namur, in the south of Belgium on December 22.

World Cycling Centre: final mechanics course of the year comes to an end

World Cycling Centre: final mechanics course of the year comes to an end

000mecWhen Kiwi Chris O’Connor leaves the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, he will take with him 15 pages of notes that he made during the seven-week mechanics course. Despite his eight years’ experience as a mechanic, the last four with New Zealand’s national track and road team, Chris leaves the WCC with new skills, approaches and ideas.

“Coming into this course I thought I would be going over a lot of things I already knew,” he admits. “But it has been good to find a different way to approach things.”

The importance of preparation

In particular, he learned to place more importance on preparation, not only of bikes but also of their components: “You don’t just take something out of a box when you need it. You pull it apart and put it back together again. It is pre-loved by the time it gets ridden. Everything I do will be more high precision now,” he adds.

Chi Hang Jip (Kenny) agrees. “I have learned a lot here, a lot of details,” says the former athlete whose knowledge until now came largely from the Internet. For the last three years, he has been mechanic for Hong Kong’s national team, following them to stage races in the UCI Asia Tour and other competitions on the continent. His task is rendered complicated by the fact that he remains in Hong Kong while the team trains in China.

“I don’t see their bikes regularly so before a race I have a lot of work to do! When I was a rider I fixed my bike myself and it became a hobby.”

Course adapted to the mechanics’ needs

This was the third course of the new mechanics training programme introduced this year at the World Cycling Centre. For WCC Master Mechanic Alex Roussel, the result is positive: “Other courses exist for mechanics, but not where they can work at competitions,” he points out. “But we adapt to the situation and who is on the course. Kenny and Chris already had considerable experience at races so we did more in the workshop.”

The mornings at the WCC were devoted to learning, and in the afternoon the trainee mechanics worked as part of the WCC team. “They participated in everything we were doing and helped us out,” said Alex Roussel, who emphasised that both Chris and Kenny were accomplished mechanics.

Industry visits

The course at the WCC was punctuated by visits to different industry factories. Each of them also spent two days at the service course of Swiss Professional Continental Team IAM Cycling.

Chris O’Connor had more than a week out from the course to accompany the New Zealand team to Manchester for the opening round of the 2013-2013 UCI Track Cycling World Cup. On leaving Aigle, he will travel with the team to the second round in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

As for Kenny, he will return to his national team in Hong Kong with plenty of new ideas, although he has trouble pinpointing the highlight of the course: “It all seems so important,” he says after hesitation.

Mechanics courses in 2014

Three courses for mechanics are scheduled for 2014:

Course 1: February 3 – March 28

Course 2: May 5 – June 27

Course 3: September 1 – October 25

For further information: [email protected]

Photo: (from left) Alex Roussel, Chris O’Connor and Chi Hang Jip (Kenny)

Switzerland hosts 2013 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships

Switzerland hosts 2013 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships

000indoorThe St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, will provide the stage for the 2013 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships from November 22nd to 24th.  Some 150 athletes from 17 countries will compete for the rainbow jersey in cycle-ball and the five artistic cycling categories: men single, women single, women pairs, women 4 and open 4.

Reigning cycle-ball World Champions, the Swiss team of Roman Schneider and Dominik Planzer, will be looking to confirm their title in front of their home crowd. However they will be up against tough competition from the Germans and the Austrians who are always among the favourites of this spectacular and exciting discipline.

Last year, Germany made a clean sweep of the artistic cycling titles. Other medals went to Austria, Hong Kong and Switzerland, all of whom will be present and aiming to take over the No 1 spot in the world.

Swiss Television SRF2 (Schweizer Radio Fernsehen) will broadcast live some of the action on the last day of competition. Meanwhile, some 5000 spectators are expected to attend the competitions.

Switzerland has hosted the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships nine times since 1956, but this is only the second time in 50 years that the Worlds come to Basel. Built in 1976, the St Jakobshalle is particularly known for hosting the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament, part of the ATP World Tour.

Photo: Last year’s cycle-ball finalists, Switzerland and Austria, will once again be among the favourites.

The St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, will provide the stage for the 2013 UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships from November 22nd to 24th.  Some 150 athletes from 17 countries will compete for the rainbow jersey in cycle-ball and the five artistic cycling categories: men single, women single, women pairs, women 4 and open 4.

Reigning cycle-ball World Champions, the Swiss team of Roman Schneider and Dominik Planzer, will be looking to confirm their title in front of their home crowd. However they will be up against tough competition from the Germans and the Austrians who are always among the favourites of this spectacular and exciting discipline.

Last year, Germany made a clean sweep of the artistic cycling titles. Other medals went to Austria, Hong Kong and Switzerland, all of whom will be present and aiming to take over the No 1 spot in the world.

Swiss Television SRF2 (Schweizer Radio Fernsehen) will broadcast live some of the action on the last day of competition. Meanwhile, some 5000 spectators are expected to attend the competitions.

Switzerland has hosted the UCI Indoor Cycling World Championships nine times since 1956, but this is only the second time in 50 years that the Worlds come to Basel. Built in 1976, the St Jakobshalle is particularly known for hosting the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament, part of the ATP World Tour.

Photo: Last year’s cycle-ball finalists, Switzerland and Austria, will once again be among the favourites.

Trials: New names challenged the world’s best in 2013

Trials: New names challenged the world’s best in 2013

00trialsElite Women: Janickova leads the way
After years of domination from Switzerland’s Karin Moor, who retired in 2011 after winning her ninth world title, it appeared the way was clear for Gemma  Abant (World Champion in 2008, 2010 and 2012) to take over the reins. But that was without counting on the presence of the young gun from Slovakia, Tatiana Janickova, already bronze medalist in 2010 at the tender age of 16, and again in 2012.

2013 that will go down in the history books as the year of Janickova’s veritable explosion onto the Elite Trials scene. Crowned World Champion in Pietermaritzburg and undefeated in the World Cup, she is opening the way for a new generation of athletes and shaping the future of Women’s Trials.

Elite Men 20”: Mustieles at last
2013 was also the year that nine-time World Champion Benito Ros Charral, unbeaten since 2007, was toppled from his throne. After his two Junior world titles in 2008 and 2009, Spain’s Abel Mustieles Garcia proved he had what it takes to break his fellow countryman’s stronghold and win the Elite Men’s 20” category. His performance was no flash in the pan: Mustieles had a perfect season, winning the World Cup as well as the rainbow jersey after an unforgettable final that took place in torrential rain. He is now World Number 1 and looks set to remain at the top of the hierarchy for a while. France’s Aurélien Fontenoy pulled off an exploit at the 2013 World Championships by sneaking in between the two Spanish athletes to take second place.

An eye should also be kept on another Spanish athlete, Bernat Seuba, who took the world title in the Juniors category in front of Austria’s Thomas Pecchacker and France’s Alex Rudeau.

Elite Men 26” : France continues to dominate
France has always dominated the 26” category (14 titles since 1994) and once again demonstrated its strength at the World Championships in South Africa. With no less than five of eight finalists, they were well placed to dominate the podium. 2012 World Champion Gilles Coustellier, who has four world titles to his name, managed only second place this year behind fellow Frenchman Vincent Hermance. It was a second world title for Hermance after 2007, who confirmed his successful season with a demonstration of all-round skills and nerves of steel. Meanwhile Belgium’s Kenny Belaey, absent throughout the season due to injury, made a remarkable comeback to take third place at the World Championships. The three athletes on the podium have 10 titles between them.

Junior Men 26”: Watch out for Carthy
Although the athletes at the head of the Elite 26” category have been prominent on the scene for several years, Junior World Champion Jack Carthy is already representing a danger to their hold on the discipline. The young British athlete has already graced the podiums of several World Cup events, and even took victory straight after the World Championships. Carthy has shaken up the world Elite hierarchy by taking third place in the UCI rankings at the tender age of 17. He will be the one to watch next year.

Méribel voted best event
It was not only the athletes who were rewarded for their skill and effort in 2013: for the first time an award went to the best event of the UCI Trials World Cup. Athletes, officials and the press took part in the vote, with first place going to Méribel (France), organizers of the fourth round of the 2013 series.

2013 certainly produced some eye-opening performances and it will be interesting to see how this develops next year:  the season will open in Cracovie (Poland) on May 30.