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2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup: all you need to know

More registrations, an international circuit, and an even bigger crowd: the 2014 season UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano promises to be gripping. The nine stopovers of this exciting season include:
• Last year’s host location of the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials World Championships, Pietermaritzburg (RSA)
• two venues that return to the UCI MTB calendar after some years’ absence: Cairns (AUS), Windham (USA)
• one completely new event location: Méribel (FRA)
• five excellent destinations that were part of the World Cup in 2013: Nove Mesto na Morave (CZE), Albstadt (GER), Fort William (GBR), Leogang (AUS), Mont-Sainte-Anne (CAN).
2014 Mountain Bike World Cup at a glance
Date Venue Country Discipline
10-13.04.2014 Pietermaritzburg Republic of South Africa XCO / DHI
24-27.04.2014 Cairns Australia XCO / XCE / DHI
23-25.05.2014 Nove Mesto na Morave Czech Republic XCO / XCE
30.05-01.06.2014 Albstadt Germany XCO / XCE
07-08.06.2014 Fort William Great Britain DHI
14-15.06.2014 Leogang Austria DHI
31.07-03.08.2014 Mont-Sainte-Anne Canada XCO / XCE / DHI
07-10.08.2014 Windham USA XCO / XCE / DHI
21-24.08.2014 Méribel France XCO / XCE / DHI

Pietermaritzburg: starting where we left off
After a hiatus from the World Cup calendar in 2013, Pietermaritzburg returns to its traditional slot as season opener in 2014. With Greg Minnaar taking his third World Championship title on this track last year, the PMB local will be looking to capitalise on the home advantage and get his season off to a flying start.

Cairns: return after 18 years
Back in 1996, the capital of Queensland hosted the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships. In 2014, the tropical rainforest is ready to welcome the mountain bike community once again with the second round of the World Cup. It is the first of a series of major events for this Australian tourist destination: Cairns will host another World Cup event in 2016 followed by the World Championships in 2017.
Nove Mesto na Morave: voted best event in 2013
This not-to-be-missed stopover in the Czech Republic has an excellent reputation among the athletes, teams, media and sponsors. So much so that in 2013 it was voted best Cross-country Olympic event and also tied for first place with Vallnord (AND) in the category Eliminator. The spectator-friendly venue is located around a newly reconstructed multisports arena that has won over athletes and fans alike.

Albstadt: for the second time
New to the World Cup calendar in 2013, this German destination had already proved its organisational abilities with the German Championships, European Championships and several HC races on the UCI calendar. Characterised by its combination of tough uphill sections and technical descents, Albstadt is already forging a reputation for itself on the World Cup circuit.

Fort William: 13th World Cup event in 2014
Fort William’s partnership with the UCI MTB World Cup dates back to 2002. Over the years, Aonach Mor, the UK’s 9th highest mountain, has been the stage of breathtaking demonstrations of skill and speed. With 12 World Cup events and one World Championships (in 2007) already under its belt, this Highlands destination has won 27 national and international awards, including “best downhill event” of the UCI World Cup in 2012 and 2013. The passionate and noisy fans also deserve a mention!

Leogang: a gravity hot spot
One of the biggest and best-known bike parks in Europe has been operating in Saalfelden Leogang since 2001. Over the past few years it has become a true hot spot for downhill bike racers, freeriders and dirt jumpers. Leogang joined the UCI MTB World Cup in 2010 and last year also hosted the Four-cross World Championships.

Mont-Sainte-Anne: a longstanding success
Be it gravity or endurance, Mont-Sainte-Anne caters to all. And the World Cup returns for the 22nd time since it first hosted a World Cup event in 1991! Since then, the World Champions have been crowned here on two occasions: in 1998 and 2010. Ten years ago saw the launch of Vélirium, an international mountain bike festival built around the World Cup that features amateur races, family activities and cultural events. XCE comes to Mont-Sainte-Anne for the first time in 2014.

Windham: party atmosphere
Combine small-town charm, warm hospitality, a party atmosphere and exciting racing, and you have the Windham round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup. This beautiful resort nestled in the Catskill Mountains of New York State has become internationally renowned for its challenging ascents and technical terrain. As well as the Elite XCO, XCE and DHI races, the Windham Mountain Bike World Cup festival features a host of entertainment including amateur and kids’ races, a downtown block party and a concert.

Méribel: after trials…. mountain bike
The curtain will come down on the 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Méribel, a resort in the Savoie. Although new to the MTB World Cup, Méribel is well known in the world of the trials discipline, having been awarded the trophy for the best event of the 2013 UCI Trials World Cup. In 2014, Méribel will host a triple event (XCO, XCE and DHI) and provide a last chance for the athletes to confront each other before the UCI World Championships 10 days later in Hafjell (Norway).

Teams to watch for
In line with recent trends, the growing worldwide popularity of mountain biking is confirmed by the increase in the number of MTB teams and nations registering for the Mountain Bike World Cup.
In 2014, a record 31 nations have registered at least one team, compared with 27 in 2013 and 24 in 2012. Of the 119 teams, the UCI has accorded the UCI Elite MTB Team status to 15 endurance (cross-country) and 15 gravity (downhill) teams. These are the top teams of a special ranking calculated as of February 7th based on the 2013 rankings of each team’s best men and women.
The UCI Elite MTB Teams will benefit from a number of advantages including free entry into events on the UCI calendar. In exchange, they are obliged to enter at least one rider in each round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano.
Top five XCO and Gravity teams

Here are the top five XCO teams according to the 2014 March ranking:

UCI XCO Team Ranking

Teams Nations Riders
1 Specialized Racing XC United States Kate Courtney (USA); Lea Davison (USA); Howard Grotts (USA); Tereza Hurikova (CZE); Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE); Annika Langvad (DEN); Frantisek Rabon (CZE); Christoph Sauser (SUI); Todd Wells (USA); Kohei Yamamoto (JPN)
2 Multivan Merida Biking Team Germany Ondrej Cink (CZE); Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa (NOR); José Antonio Hermida Ramos (ESP); Thomas Litscher (SUI); Julian Schelb (GER); Rudi Van Houts (NED)
3 BH-Suntour-KMC France Julie Bresset (FRA); Perrine Clauzel (FRA); Hanna Klein (GER); Victor Koretzky (FRA); Helene Marcouyre (FRA); Maxime Marotte (FRA); Jordan Sarrou (FRA); Stéphane Tempier (FRA)
4 Scott-Odlo MTB Racing Team Switzerland Andri Firschknecht (SUI); Robin Gemperle (SUI); Jenny Rissveds (SWE); Nino Schurter (SUI); Florian Vogel (SUI); Marcel Wildhaber (SUI)
5 Trek Factory Racing United States Emily Batty (CAN); Rebecca Henderson (AUS); Annie Last (GBR); Sergio Mantecon Gutierrez (ESP); Daniel Mc Connell (AUS)

UCI Gravity Team Ranking

Teams Nations Riders
1 Lapierre Gravity Republic France Samuel Blenkinsop (NZL); Loïc Bruni (FRA); Emmeline Ragot (FRA); Loris Vergier (FRA)
2 GT Factory Racing Great Britain Dan Atherton (GBR); Gee Atherton (GBR); Rachel Atherton (GBR); Marc Beaumont (GBR); Martin Maes (BEL); Taylor Vernon (GBR)
3 Madison Saracen Factory Team Great Britain Manon Carpenter (GBR); Sam Dale (GBR); Kazuki Shimizu (JPN); Matthew Simmonds (GBR)
4 Evil Vengeance Tour France Morgane Charre (FRA); Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (ESP); Cyrille Kurtz (FRA); Florent Payet (FRA)
5 Commencal / Riding Addiction France Cameron Cole (NZL); Myriam Nicole (FRA); Gaetan Ruffin (FRA); Thibaut Ruffin (FRA); Rémi Thirion (FRA)

Collaboration with our partners
The continued success of our UCI Mountain Bike World Cup is thanks in large part to our collaboration with our partners.

Presenting sponsor: Shimano
Shimano has been in partnership with the UCI since 1999 and brings a world-class technical assistance to the UCI World Championships (road, track, mountain bike & trials, MTB marathon, cyclo-cross, Juniors and para-cycling) and for the UCI World Cups (MTB and cyclo-cross). Testament to their reliability, SHIMANO was also contracted for this service at the last three Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012) as well as at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010.

Official media partner: Red Bull Media House
For the third year running, our official media partner Red Bull Media House will produce and provide the television broadcast and web streaming of the UCI World Cup, including live TV broadcasts, Internet webcasts and magazine shows. Due to the high-quality content, cutting-edge production technology and a targeted content syndication, the viewing figures have been constantly on the rise: 15.9 million television viewers in 2013 compared to 14.3 million in 2012 and almost two million views online in 2013 compared to 1.3 million in 2012.
Red Bull Media House is at the heart of the global Red Bull media network. Offering a unique variety of media content in sports, music and lifestyle it is the ideal platform to showcase the mountain bike discipline.
The program is available online at uci.ch, redbull.com and on Red Bull TV online, mobile and on selected partners’ platforms such as Xbox360, Apple TV and Chromcast. In addition, redbull.com provides access to the up-to-date broadcast schedule, additional information and exclusive video clips and pictures. (Please send the relevant link).

Series Partner: GoPro
As the exclusive camera sponsor of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, GoPro is once again looking forward to adding an exciting dimension to the series coverage. The maker of the world’s most versatile camera and enabler of some of today’s most engaging content will provide fans across the world with new and unique viewpoints of the world’s best mountain bike athletes. In addition, GoPro is excited to meet two-wheel fans around the globe at the UCI World Cup stops!

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Liverpool to host 2014 Tour of Britain Grand Depart

Organisers of the renowned Tour of Britain have today announced Liverpool will be the ‘Grand Depart’ city for this year’s race on Sunday 7 September.

This is the first time the city has hosted this prestigious opening stage, although it has been involved with the event before by holding stage finishes in 2006 and 2008, and a mid-race stage start in 2007.

Stage One will start and finish on The Strand, taking in the world-famous backdrop of the Three Graces. It will consist of ten laps of a 13-kilometre circuit.

Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member responsible for sport, Councillor Wendy Simon, said:“This is a huge coup for the city.  It’s wonderful news that this world famous sporting event will begin in Liverpool.

“This race attracts some of the best riders from across the globe with previous races featuring elite cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and Chris Froome.

“There’s a real momentum building for cycling in this city. The latest figures show more people than ever are using bikes here and there’s a real appetite for it at the moment.  And with the launch of our cycle hire scheme – the biggest in the UK outside of London – there has never been a better time for Liverpool to host this high profile event.”

The Liverpool route will be revealed in the near future, along with details of a mass participation event to coincide with The Tour of Britain’s arrival in the city.

Race Director, Mick Bennett, said: “We are delighted that this year’s Tour of Britain can start with such a prestigious stage in the centre of Liverpool.

“The opening circuit will be perfectly suited to the sprinters, and whoever wins Stage One will pull on the first yellow jersey of 2014.

“With the support of Liverpool City Council we are looking forward to making this year’s Grand Depart a memorable occasion for cycling fans.”

The 2014 Tour of Britain will take place across 8 days – from 7 to the 14 September.

The full national route will be announced at 7pm on Monday 31 March with full details published onwww.thetour.co.uk.

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Stanridge Cycles adds Katie Arnold to team for Red Hook Crit Series

Ohio based Stanridge Cycles is excited to announce the arrival of Katie Arnold to the team as it heads into it’s 3rd season competing in the Red Hook Crit Series. Arnold will join previous Red Hook winner and Cat 1/Pro, Evan Murphy at the start line in NYC this weekend.

This years Red Hook Crit program began in October of last year while in Shoreditch, London visiting Deathspray Custom. Ben Eine’s work on Mother London caught the eye of Stanridge Cycles Owner Adam Eldridge. After returning to the states Ben was contacted and it was on. Ben hand painted both frames for the event.

This year Enve Composites  Paul Components and Vittoria Tires have joined as new team sponsors while Endo Custom remains as the jersey maker. Riders will use a variation of the iconic Stanridge HSP MkII (pictured) during the series to showcase a team that competes at the highest level of fixed crit racing.

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“I enjoy creating bikes for this series. Having these frames used under race conditions means much more to me than hanging them on display at a bike show. They’ll get beat up, scratched and used which is perfectly fine with me”.  - Adam Eldridge, Owner of Stanridge Cycles.

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Rapha Cross Transfer Jacket Review

A IMG_4384One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was the Rapha Cross Transfer Jacket my girlfriend surprised me with. I had shown her pictures of it earlier in the year when it was released, having no idea that she would order it for me months later. To be honest, I was shocked when I opened up the box and saw it inside.

Rapha has a reputation of making some incredible cycling items. Ranging from bibs and jerseys, to commuter and office friendly trousers, jeans, shirts, and jackets, everything from the London based brand is well thought out, and meticulously made.  The Cross Transfer Jacket follows suit.

Rapha Cross Transfer JacketThe jacket comes in two versions, the standard and cross editions. Both are identical in construction and features, but the cross edition includes Rapha-Focus team livery. If you have seen Jeremy Powers, Gabby Durrin, Zach McDonald, or mechanic Tom Hooper at a race this season, they probably had the Cross Transfer Jacket on when not racing.

The matte navy fabric is set off by the single cream band on the left arm, something only seen on the Cross version of the jacket. Other features that set it apart from standard version are the subtle matte black Rapha-Focus logos on the front and back, a colored stitching design on the right shoulder, and the colorful inside lining of the jacket.

The idea behind the jacket is to provide something warm for warm ups and cool downs at a cross race. It needs to be warm, light weight, and easily packable in your gear bag. Rapha hit the mark on all three categories, with looks and comfort that will have you wearing it away from the race too.

The super soft, stretch nylon jacket uses a lightweight PrimaLoft ONE synthetic insulation. On the coldest days, you might need something more, but when the mercury shows 30 degrees or higher, you should be fine. The Thermoroubaix side panels and brushed inner collar add to the jacket’s overall comfort. Rapha has not stated that it is waterproof, but the PrimaLoft ONE is noted as water resistant. I might not wear it in a downpour, but for light mist or snow, it should keep you dry and warm.

A IMG_4377On the inside of the jacket, you’ll find the same stretch nylon, but with a splash of color with the red, pink, white, and light blue color bands of the Rapha-Focus team. Zipped up, the jacket is very subtle, but unzipped, shows your inner heckler.

Run your headphones from the chest pocket opening and through the guides up to your ears.

Run your headphones from the chest pocket opening and through the guides up to your ears.

The jacket has four total pockets. The two zippered front pockets feature the same brushed material as the collar to keep your hands toasty warm. There is also a zipped inner chest pocket to keep small valuables safe when at the race. It’s a great place to put your keys or an iPod Nano while warming up on the trainer. Rapha included some loops and a small slit for routing your headphone cable up to your ear.

The jacket stuffs into the rear pocket when pulled inside out.

The jacket stuffs into the rear pocket when pulled inside out.

The fourth pocket is on the back. The large zipper pocket serves two functions. When wearing the jacket, it can be used as a normal pocket, maybe for your phone, wallet, gloves, hat, etc. When packing though, the pocket can be turned inside out, and the jacket can be stuffed inside and zippered up to save space and keep it clean.

Other smart cycling features include an off set zipper and small strips of reflective material on the backs of the wrist and the sides of the rear pocket. The jacket has a fitted cut, so keep it in mind when you are ordering. At 6′, 185 lbs, the size large is comfortable with a base layer and long sleeve jersey at races, or a t-shirt or button down when off the bike. A hoodie or sweater would be a little tight.

All Rapha products come with a story. This one is in the front pocket.

All Rapha products come with a story. This one is in the front pocket.

At $295 for the standard or cross editions, the jacket is expensive. There is no arguing that. Before I had it in my hands, I was skeptical that is justified being close to $300, but after wearing it, it seems a bit more reasonable. Besides paying the premium for the Rapha name, the jacket is very well made, and has held up very well in three months of almost daily ware off the bike, and pre- and post-race at a few late season races. The jacket feels extremely soft, which had me a little worried at first. The stretch nylon has held up well though, even at the shoulders with my heavily loaded Green Guru Gear Ruckus backpack in and out of the office.

Overall, the jacket has exceeded my expectations. It is comfortable, warm, fits well on and off the bike, and looks great. I’ll continue using it this spring as the road season has already started up here on the east coast, and it will be a staple in my cross gear when things get muddy and cold this fall.

Rapha Cross Transfer Jacket

$295

www.rapha.cc