Red Rock Rampage – St. George, UT

Saturday’s edition of the Red Rock Rampage ushered in a new era for Utah’s Intermountain Cup now under new ownership. The iconic mountain bike series was purchased at the end of 2015 by Threshold Events. And while the racecourse didn’t look all that much different the general consensus after the race was that the new guys seem to know what they are doing. Post race food, quick results, and speedy podium presentations left racers happy and encouraged for things to come.

Alex Grant chases Justin Lindine on lap one of four in St. George. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Alex Grant chases Justin Lindine on lap one of four in St. George. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

As always, the riders themselves put on quite a show. The race was headlined by Olympic hopeful Alex Grant (Cannondale/Fly360) who was putting the finishing touches on his spring training prior to the upcoming UCI races in California. Justin Lindine (Hyper Threads) played Grant’s antagonist ensuring it wouldn’t be a smooth ride out front for the Cannonade rider. The duo rode wheel to wheel for three laps before Grant pulled ahead out climbing Lindine in the opening climbs of the final lap.

Kevin Day follows Adam Brown over some rocks. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Kevin Day follows Adam Brown over some rocks. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Kevin Day (Endurance 360) had strong showing shown here following Summit devo rider Adam Brown. Shortly after Brown’s chain exploded with enough force that it hit Kevin in the face.

Jen Hanks showed off her early-season form riding away from the competition on lap one. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Jen Hanks showed off her early-season form riding away from the competition on lap one. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Jen Hanks (Pivot/DNA Cycling) continued her early-season tear tallying a win in St. George to go along with her third place at TransAndes and 5-person team championship at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Hanks was challenged early on by elite youngster Rachel Anders (Competitive Cyclist) who represented the US at the world championships last year.

Hanks’ fast climbing style was too much for Anders as the race winner pulled clear on the rocky climbs of the first and second laps.

Justin Lindine popping and locking over some big rocks. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Justin Lindine popping and locking over some big rocks. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Not many people were choosing this line on the second climb but when your name is Justin Lindine it’s not a problem.

DNA Cycling rouleur rider on his final lap. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

DNA Cycling rouleur rider on his final lap. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Riders of all ages and skill levels tested themselves at the Red Rock Rampage.

Rachel Anders put down a solid effort in second and highlighted a good showing for the Competitive Cyclist dev program. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Rachel Anders put down a solid effort in second and highlighted a good showing for the Competitive Cyclist devo program. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

The Competitive Cyclist devo program had a strong showing placing several of it’s junior and U-23 riders on the podium and challenging at the front of the pro/elite events.

Chris Holley rode a solid but lonely race occupying third place all day. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Chris Holley rode a solid but lonely race occupying third place all day. Photo by: Shannon Boffeli

Taking third on the day Chris Holley (Kuhl) is one of the toughest riders on the circuit and almost untouchable in the rocks and washes of southern Utah.

Click Here to learn more about the Intermountain Cup. You can see coverage of the next race on the I-Cup series right here on Mountain Bike Race News. Racers will be back in St. George for the Cactus Hugger, April 2nd.

CANNONDALE, SUGOI AND 360FLY CREATE NEW CROSS-COUNTRY MTB TEAM

Cannondale announced today a partnership with SUGOI Apparel and 360fly to create North America’s most powerful cross-country mountain bike team for the 2016 season – Cannondale 360fly, powered by SUGOI.

“Cannondale 360fly, Powered by SUGOI brings together three innovative brands with trailblazing technology to fuel North America’s fastest domestic mountain bikers,” said Matt Ohran, Team Director, Cannondale 360fly, powered by SUGOI. “This team has the talent to stand atop any North American XC race podium.”

Evelyn Dong seen here winning the  2015 Park City Point 2 Point. Photo by: Angie Harker

Evelyn Dong seen here winning the 2015 Park City Point 2 Point. Photo by: Angie Harker

The team will be comprised of five standout athletes:

  • Raphaël Gagné, Canada: 2015 Pan Am Games Gold Medalist, 2015 Canadian National XC and CX Champion, 2015 Pro XCT Overall winner
  • Alex Grant, USA: 2015 US Nationals 3rd place in both XC and Short Track and winner of the Grand Junction Off-Road
  • Evelyn Dong, USA: 2015 Go Pro Games Champion, Overall Winner at the 2015 Breck Epic MTB Stage Race, 2014 3rd place at US XC Nationals
  • Keegan Swenson, USA: 2015 2nd place at US XC Nationals, 2014 U23 US National Champion, 4x Junior US XC National Champion
  • Tinker Juarez, USA: Multiple USA National XC and 24-Solo MTB Championships, 2x Olympian, 22-year Cannondale athlete and general bad-ass bike rider

The team trucks will be loaded with the Scalpel and the F-Si, two of the most race-proven bikes in the world, and the athletes will choose the ideal machine depending upon course demands. The Cannondale Scalpel delivers the ultimate XC speed in a full suspension bike and the F-Si boasts maximum performance in a cross-country hardtail.

“In supporting this team, Cannondale is turning up the level of excitement in elite racing in North America,” said Hannah Parish, Marketing Director for Cycling Sports Group, North America. “This roster is incredibly talented on the bike and remarkably engaging off the bike and that personality and performance will get our fans on their feet and cheering.”

SUGOI will be supporting the Cannondale 360fly team as the Official Performance Apparel sponsor. Team riders will enjoy the brand’s latest advancements in pro apparel, including the all-new 2016 Racing System Elite (RSE) Jersey and Bib Short. The RSE kit is SUGOI’s lightest kit ever, engineered to provide maximum performance and comfort, anchored by the Formula FXE chamois with pioneering cradle design. Team replica kits will be available for sale at select SUGOI dealers around the continent.

“Having elite level athletes working in collaboration with our product teams to design and develop the next generation of XC race apparel is invaluable to Sugoi,” said Ian Domaas, Vice President & GM, SUGOI.

Alex leads a group down the Beatrice descent at the world cup in Mount St. Anne

Alex leads a group down the Beatrice descent at the world cup in Mount St. Anne

As the official camera, 360fly will capture fully immersive 360° video content. The interactive 360° video is easily shared to social channels such as Facebook and YouTube via the 360fly smartphone app. Additionally, by pairing the video with Google Cardboard, fans can experience the team’s videos in virtual reality.

“We’re excited to be partnering with such great brands and supporting such a talented team of riders,” said Peter Adderton, 360fly CEO. “For the first time fans will be able to view videos and experience them as if they were there.”

Cannondale 360fly, powered by SUGOI will also be supported by these important partners:

  • Wilderness Trail Bikes (WTB): For tires, saddles, and grips
  • ENVE: For wheels, handlebars, and seatposts
  • Shimano: For components and shoes
  • Stages Cycling: For Hollowgram crank arm based power meters

Axial Racing: The official RC Car of The Cannondale 360Fly, providing “off the bike fun” for the team and support staff

Alex Grant’s World Champs Blog

Prior to this trip I had never raced In Europe. When people asked me if I had I would always say “No, I haven’t, yet…” in the back of my mind wondering if I ever would. In the past I had entertained the idea of racing Trans-Alp or one of the big stage races, but it never fell into place.

I wish it wasn’t so expensive, or far away, because the mountain bike racing scene in Europe is amazing right now. I am sure some of the general energy and buzz around this one can be attributed to the fact that it is the World Championships and all the major riders and national teams were there, along with thousands of fans. There is so much at stake at worlds, a lot of national pride and the privilege of wearing the coveted rainbow striped for the next season. This year’s race is also ahead of an Olympic year, so everyone brought their A Game and wanted to get as many points as possible for themselves and their country.

Overlooking the Andorran Pyrennes

Overlooking the Andorran Pyrennes

As for myself, I hadn’t come with any aspirations to win the rainbow jersey and was realistic about my chances, being my first Worlds and also first race in Europe.  Even though the venue was at an altitude of 6,000’ or so, which suited me, the course didn’t have a lot of sustained pedaling or descending sections. That meant that passing would be harder, and starting 99th out of 113 guys I knew that passing would be the name of the game.

When race day rolled around I was feeling ready to go even though it has been a bit of a rough week (see my previous post about the delayed and broken bike). I hadn’t been sleeping too well all week, which is another aspect of racing in Europe that I need to dial in. I had either been waking up shortly after falling asleep and laying there awake for hours, or not being able to fall asleep. I tried not to worry about it and didn’t nap too much in fear of making it even harder to sleep at night. Anyway it is all part of the learning process and I have some ideas for next time, beginning with a little red wine at dinner time ;).

Race day was sunny and cool, but course conditions were a big unknown due to two days of rain. The U23’s and juniors had had treacherous conditions the days prior, with the U23 men being the worst. Keegan came back after rocking a 12th place finish swearing that it would not be dry in time and to switch to mud tires. I threw on the Kenda Honey Badger Pros in place of the Small Block Eight and the Scalpel was ready to roll.

Not many flat roads in Andorra

Not many flat roads in Andorra

The race itself was crazy. As suspected I was about last row, the last two rows generally blur together once everyone rolls up. I had noticed a big puddle on the right side so I lined up back middle, and when the gun went off made it through past the puddle without getting wet. Got to take the small wins where you can get them.

Starting World Cups and Worlds at the back is pretty frustrating, but I just try to maintain a positive attitude. It goes something like this: SPRINT, BRAKE, SPRINT, BRAKE… Stop, get off, walk your bike, try to run, stop, wait your turn to get through some trees, try to get on, get knocked over by a guy running by, try to get on, endo on a guy crashed in front of you, run, remount, SPRINT, BRAKE, get off walk… Repeat. This track was particularly bad in the first half lap because it was so slippery technical, as well as tight in spots. It was a cluster out there for sure. I knew that would be the case, and even though this course was at altitude and suited me, it would be really hard to move up first lap.

After one lap I came through in 84th place and almost four minutes down. Ouch, I knew I had to kick it in gear if I were going to stay in the race. Luckily things opened up a bit second lap and I was able to pass 21 guys. I still got balled up behind people and had to run a bit, but not as bad as lap one. I came through after lap two in 63rd and feeling OK, though suffering for sure. I started lap three well, then made a dumb mistake of my own and crashed on a tough section. I flipped over and landed hard on my rib, ringing my bell pretty good.

Unfortunately my rib was injured and it hurt to breathe right away. Every breath hurt especially the deepest ones on the climbs, and there were plenty of those. It took me a minute to get back going again, my rib hurt but adrenaline kicked in and I was able to push through it. It is hard to say how much it limited me, but I gutted it out for the next three laps and continued to move up. I passed a few guys each lap and by the finish was 50th place, which I had set as my goal. Of course after the race we always want more, but it was a good day.

One thing is for sure, it was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about what I can do to improve next time, both in preparation and during the race. I’m not sure what the next one will be as this MTB season is a wrap for me, and I am really looking forward to some down time this fall with my wife Sammi and our five-month-old daughter Eleanor.

USAC HQ

USAC HQ

I need to thank USA Cycling for the opportunity to represent the United States over there, it was a privilege. I also want to say thanks to my long time sponsors for supporting me over the years and helping me get to this point, namely Cannondale, ENVE Composites, Ridebiker Alliance/Sho-Air, CTS and my coach Adam Pulford, as well as all of my new and smaller sponsors, too many to name.

Thanks for reading!

Alex Grant’s World Champs Blog

It’s been a wild ride, but I am here in Andorra about to go out and do the final course check ahead of tomorrow’s World Championship XC race. This week has been a blur of travel and intermittent sleep (for some reason I am not adjusting to the time change well), with some bike rides and lots of good meals mixed in.

I left Salt Lake City on Sunday morning, and by the time I arrived in Andorra it was about 3pm local time on Monday, and I had barely slept. Unfortunately I don’t sleep well on planes so these longer flights kind of kick my butt. I resisted the temptation to just crash and nap after lunch, grabbed a coffee, and went for a short spin to change some money and just get outside. I also hoped this would help me sleep better at night, which it did, even if just for one night.

Alex digs deep at the Mount St. Anne world cup

Alex digs deep at the Mount St. Anne world cup

Unfortunately my first spin was not on my own bike, as it didn’t make it to Barcelona on my flight. USA Cycling saved me with a loaner bike, which I needed the next day as well, my bike didn’t show up until Tuesday night. I put the loaner to good use on Tuesday and did a mellow road ride up some mountain passes, and even crossed over in to Spain on a dirt road for a few miles. The views are incredible and the mountains are beautiful here. The Pyrenees are dramatic mountains with a lot of steep slopes and huge vertical relief.

My bike finally arrived Tuesday night after dinner, and I rushed to start building it up. Right away I noticed that the airline had crushed my bag and cracked the frame! Aaarrrgggghhh! I tried not to panic and luckily didn’t need to as the next day the Cannondale Factory Racing team saved my butt with a replacement swing arm, which the USAC mechanics promptly installed, and I was on course Wednesday afternoon.

alexs bike

The course is awesome. It is super hard all around with really steep short climbs and some steep technical descents. All the climbs are less than one minute long so it will be a really punchy race and will surely tax the legs and lungs a lot. It is also super treacherous in wet conditions, which the juniors and U23’s are experiencing. It looks dry for our race but you never know.

Tomorrow is the elite race, and I have my work cut out for me for sure. I have number 97, which means that almost 100 of the best riders in the world will be called up ahead of me. I am rooming with Russell Finsterwald and he likes to make the goal of halving his start number. I like it. Honestly that’s about all I can hope for, that is a lot of passes to make still! I’ll add to that the goal of finishing on the lead lap, and there we go, two things to shoot for.

So far it has been a great week over here with top-notch support from USA Cycling. It has been great to stay with the national team, we have a solid group of riders in all categories right now, most importantly everyone has a great attitude and is having fun.

I’ll check back in after the race, hopefully with some good war stories.

Thanks for reading and good luck to all the Park City Point 2 Point racers back home.