Canadian Cyclist


January 21/04 11:17 am - Minnaar and Killeen Team Up for Cape Epic, Qualifying Procedures for 2004 U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships

Posted by Editoress on 01/21/04

MTB World Champion and World Cup winner to participate in The CAPE EPIC
Courtesy CAPE EPIC organization

The reigning UCI World Champion Downhill, Greg Minnaar (RSA) of Team G-Cross Honda, and the reigning World Cup U23 Cross Country Champion, Liam Killeen (GBR) of Subaru Gary Fisher, have announced their participation in The CAPE EPIC presented by adidas today. The two friends are excited to start as team 23 Degrees in this new African mountain bike stage race. "The Cape Epic is a major event on the world stage and to have it here in my home country is really exciting", says Greg Minnaar. "As soon as I was aware of it I decided that I'd like to give it a try. My coach is very supportive and believes this race will be great for me. My fitness level is good right now, and even though there are many qualified marathon and endurance riders in the event, I'm hoping to do well with my team mate!"

Greg and Liam first met at the 2000 World Cup Cross Country Finals in Lausanne and have known each other ever since. Since their schedules are very different they only see each other at triple World Cups or World Championships, but both Greg and Liam have been supportive of the other's career, always checking in to see how the other one is doing. When Liam was racing for the Under 23 World Cup title in Kaprun 2003, Greg was at the side of the course cheering him on.

Greg, who has recently been awarded the international Velo News award for Best Downhiller, is thrilled that Liam is ready to race with him. "I'm really excited that such a top international cross country rider like Liam is coming to South Africa to race this event, it's great for the sport here and for me personally." Then he jokes about their potential team work. "Well if he promises to pull me up some of the hills, I'm ready to drag him down some of the downhills!"

After winning the Under 23 British Cyclo Cross Championships 2004 in January, Subaru Gary Fisher‚s Liam Killeen is now looking forward to his next challenge in South Africa. "As soon as I knew about this race, I was hoping we could fit it into my early season schedule", he says. "Then to have the chance to ride with South Africa's most famous mountain biker, who is also a friend of mine, well it couldn't have worked out better!" Liam‚s team camp in USA recently changed dates, which then allowed him to be able to race side by side with Greg. "My fitness level is good right now. I've been on the bike through December and January, and even though it's winter here, I've been getting the miles in, and I'm looking forward to working with Greg to do the best we can. Some may consider that I'll be using this race as a training ride, and in a way some races are critical for training, but I don't enter a race without racing, so I'm really looking forward to it."

For Greg Minnaar The CAPE EPIC is not only his first major race in his home country after the Africa Cup in 1999, it is also his first stage race ever in his mountain bike career. "I can think of no better way of show casing the amazing scenery in our country, not that I'll have much time to look at it.. but I'm hoping this event gets bigger and bigger every year. Due to the clash of national and international calendars, I don't get to race in South Africa as much as I would like, and even though this is not what I am known for, it will still be great to be racing in front of a home crowd."

How can a downhill racer possibly finish one of the toughest mountain bike stage races on the planet one may ask. Greg Minnaar‚s coach Stephane Girard, who also coached Nicolas Vouillouz to a record 10 Downhill World Championships, says he can. "Endurance is an important part of training, even for a downhill racer, but a lot of riders don't really like it and have a hard time to go out for long rides at a high tempo, so this is where a race like The Cape Epic helps you and the excitement of competition keeps your pace higher than if you would be training by yourself." Greg rides approximately 4,500 kilometres per year on his cross country and road bike, his annual training sums up to 600 hours. "Racing a stage race is a perfect way for any rider to build up a strong base of endurance", says coach Girard. "The only problem that can be involved with this is recovery, but the Cape Epic is in early March, so there is plenty of recovery time before the start of the DH race season." Now Greg‚s focus is on finishing The Cape Epic. "Of course we will adapt Greg's training to the length of the stages he will have to race, so he hasn't any problem finishing those", says Girard. "It will be important for him to do a few long rides in February."

Qualifying Procedures for 2004 U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships
Courtesy USA Cycling

USA Cycling announced (Tuesday) the qualification procedures and guidelines for the newly created 2004 U.S. National Mountain Bike Championships in Mammoth, Calif., Sept. 23-26. Announced last October, the one-day format will replace the traditional design of a season-long series to determine the U.S. National Mountain Bike Champion in several events and categories.

New in '04 will be a stars and stripes jersey for marathon and single speed disciplines in addition to the traditional cross-country and short track events. In the gravity themed events, dual slalom makes its return to the national championship level and a super D discipline will be introduced to compliment the downhill and mountain cross competitions. Observed trials will also return in both the modified and stock bike classes and in honor of mountain bike pioneers and heroes, a legends category in cross-country and downhill will also make its national championship debut.

There are six possible ways for riders to qualify and compete in the 2004 United States Mountain Bike National Championships, including NORBA State or Regional Championship Series or Events, American Mountain Bike Challenge (AMBC) events, NORBA National Series events, Alison Dunlap Junior Olympic Mountain Bike events, and USA Cycling Junior Development Regional Mountain Bike Camps. Also, defending U.S. National Mountain Bike Champions are automatically qualified to compete at the 2004 U.S. National Championships.

If a particular discipline doesn't require prior qualification, American citizenship and an annual NORBA license are the only requirements to participate.


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