Sho-Air Cycling Group to cease US Cup national MTB series sponsorship.

The Sho-Air Cycling Group announced it will be ending title sponsorship of the US Cup mountain bike series at the end of 2017.

The US Cup was created in the wake of the defunct N.M.B.S. series at the end of 2008, when the former national series folded due to a lack of funding and support.  Since 2009, SCG has operated and sponsored the US Cup mtb series and has subsidized event promoters and amateur racing across the nation.

“It has been a great run” explained Sho-Air international president Scott Tedro. “We have put on some of the highest UCI level events, met some wonderful people and I hope we made a positive impact on many lives over the years.  However, with some recent changes in upper management at USA Cycling and the current industry environment, I feel the timing is right to take a step back for myself and my company.”

Longtime partner Ty Kady will look to oversee event operations and marketing in 2018.  “I have been very fortunate to work and race for Scott for over a decade. I am not sure we will see someone with his passion or dedication to the sport anytime soon? I support Scott’s decision to step away.  He’s shouldered a lot of the responsibility and costs over the years as he tried to unite the governing body, teams, riders and industry. That’s no easy task!”

“I could not have done this without Team Big Bear’s Tom Spiegel or Ty Kady’s management over the years, those two were the backbone of the operation.  In addition, great industry companies like Kenda, Specialized, Cannondale, ESI grips, KMC chains and many others have all played an integral role in the US Cup series success from day one.” expressed Tedro. 

“I am looking forward to continuing a modest west coast racing series in 2018 and beyond hopefully.” commented Kady. “Our main focus will be a calendar of events in California with cross-country and enduro racing.  We also hope to broaden our event calendar with other cycling disciplines, but that will depend on the support from our current sponsors and new relationships we are looking to build.”

“Southern California mountain biking is in good hands with Ty and Tom”, explained Tedro. “I look forward to staying involved with Ty in this new endeavor.”

“I am confident we will host great events in 2018”, commented mountain bike hall of fame member Tom Spiegel. “Scott and Sho-Air have been a big part of the sport these last several years and we will certainly miss his vision and commitment.”

US Cup- Blevins and Courtney take home $20,000 and US Cup series title.

Huntington Beach, California – August 2nd, 2017:

If there was any doubt left on who are some of America’s brightest talent, Specialized riders Kate Courtney and Chris Blevins left little doubt after two days of hard racing at the US Cup series final at the Boston Rebellion.

The two riders swept both days of cross-country and short track racing in their respective categories and each walked away with $10,000.00 and the 2017 US Cup series title.

The Boston Rebellion course served up some very technical terrain over the 3.5-mile loop.  What is lacked in elevation change, it more than made up for with a twisty course that demanded the rider’s attention every second.  The course was strewn with roots and rocks and proved to be a test for these world class riders.

Both Blevins and Courtney faced stiff competition from World Cup regulars Dan McConnell, Rebecca Henderson, Emily Batty, along with a strong contingent of Latin American and domestic pro’s as well.  

But the duo were on point all weekend and rode with confidence and poise often seen in more seasoned racers.

Women’s XC:

Emily Batty (Trek Factory) and Kate Courtney (Specialized) quickly established a gap over 2nd place series contender Rose Grant (NoTubes/Pivot) and Maghalie Rochette (Clif Pro Team) early in the race.  Veteran Lea Davison (Cliff Pro Team) had the lead early on lap one and looked to be a major factor. However, a broken a chain and had to run back to the tech zone.  Davison would spend the next four laps slicing through the field and coming back to a remarkable 8th.

Meanwhile up front, Kate and Emily engaged in their own private battle.  With about a lap and a half to go, Courtney turned the screws on the Trek rider and went on to solo in for the victory.

Batty, Grant, Rochette and local Massachusetts rider Crystal Anthony (Riverside Racing) rounded out the top 5.

Men’s XC:

Much like the women’s race, the men’s cross-country boiled down to a two-rider fight between Blevins and World Cup veteran Dan McConnell of Australia. The former world cup winner looked poised to take a last lap victory after bridging back up to a mid-race surge by Blevins.

However, when the riders came out of the forest on the last lap, it was Blevins all alone.  McConnell had suffered from cramps on the demanding six lap course and came in fifty seconds behind for second.  Sandy Floren (Bear Development) was just two seconds off from the slowing McConnell and the teenager rode strong all race to take a well-deserved third.  Cameron Ivory (Specialized AUS) took fourth over Luke Vrouwenvelder (Bear development) to round out the men’s top 5.

US Cup-XC-Blevins and Courtney keep on rolling.

Huntington Beach, California – July 17, 2017

The third round of US Cup-XC stormed into Williston, Vermont over the weekend, as the battle rages on over the $20,000 series payout for the men’s and women’s champion.

At the first two rounds in spring, the duo of Chris Blevins (Specialized) and Kate Courtney (Specialized) have shown there is a youth movement taking place in cross-country in the United States. The two have ridden brilliantly over more experienced and established rivals and continued their winning ways in Vermont at the Eastern Grind.

Cross Country

In Saturdays women’s race, it was quickly whittled down to a three-rider duel when Kate Courtney (Specialized), Lea Davison (Clif Pro) and Rose Grant (NoTubes/Pivot) separated themselves from the women’s field.

Coming off really good spring form in the World Cups, Courtney began turning the screws on lap two and opened up a forty second gap on Davison.  From there, Kate went untouched and pulled away over the next couple laps, soloing in for her second US Cup-CX victory and extending her lead in the US Cup Series points chase.

Lea Davison (Clif Pro) using some “home” knowledge finished in second place, with Rose Grant (NoTubes/Pivot), Tina Severson (Orange Seal) and Kelsey Urban (Whole Athlete) rounding out the women’s top 5.

“This course was SO fun,” exclaimed Courtney following her win. “This is great preparation for nationals next weekend.”

“You had to be paying attention the whole time.” commented third place Rose Grant. “This course was great preparation for nationals, I had a blast.”

The men’s XC race went off with some fireworks right off the start, as Todd Wells slipped a pedal right out of the blocks and had to play catch up early.  Luckily all riders got through clean with team Specialized taking control of the race early.

Up front reigning XC national champ Howard Grotts (Specialized) was in control over his teammate Christopher Blevins (Specialized) and current CX national champion Stephen Hyde (Cannondale P/BCyclocrossworld.com).  However, Grotts would burp a tire late on lap one and have to limp into the tech zone giving away valuable time to Blevins, Hyde and a charging Todd Wells.

 

US Cup Cross-Country series back to the Grind.

Huntington Beach, California – July 14, 2017:

The third round of US Cup storms Williston, Vermont on July 15th and 16th, as the battle rages on over the $20,000 series championship payout.

Equal points are paid in both cross country and short track on the weekend—giving riders two opportunities to earn series points.  This also gives riders who may have had an off day, the chance offset it with a hard earned effort the following race.

So far in two rounds, Specialzed rider Christopher Blevens has been nearly flawless with 231 points out of the possible 240 available. Out of the gate Blevins has surprised many with his speed and consistency.  Luke Vrouwenvelder sits in scond place, while Russel Finsterwald, Todd Wells and Trek’s Anton Cooper round out the top five.

On the ladies side, Specialized’s sensation Kate Courtney, who is on world cup podium form, is locked in a much tigher duel with Stans Notubess/Pivot rider Rose Grant. With just 16 points between the two the pro women’s category is going to come down to the wire. Alexis Skarda (Stans Notubes), Evelyn Dong (Full Cycle) and Eva Lechner (Clif Pro Team) round out the top five.

Cross-country racing is set for Saturday, with the women kicking things off with four laps starting at 1:35pm, and the elite men at 3pm, for six laps on the flowing technical five-mile circuit.

Sunday will play host to the short track events, with elite women at 3pm and men at 3:30pm

“I have had a really positive spring campaign at the World Cup’s” comment women’s US Cup leader Kate Courtney. “It’s good to be back in the states and on this three-week East coast campaign.  The course out here is super fun and I want to continue the momentum and go after that $10,000. series bonus.”

“Things have gone really well, better than I expected at the first two rounds” states Specialized’s Christopher Blevins. “I have split my spring between the mountain bike and the road.  It’s good to be back here and riding some really fun course. I am hoping the fitness stays good these next few weeks and I want to collect that series title at Boston if all goes as planned.

 

Youth Movement Continues at US CUP Round 2 at Bonelli!

San Dimas, California – April 9, 2017: The US CUP presented by Ridebiker Alliance kicked it up a notch at Bonelli Park, with a UCI HC category race on Saturday. An international field was on hand, including Trek’s Sergio Mantecon, Emily Batty and Anton Cooper along with Canadians Catherine Pendrel, Geoff Kabush, Derek Zanstra and Raphael Gagne.

At the end of the day, Trek’s Anton Cooper and Cannondale/3Rox Racing’s Erin Huck took the wins in the cross country as both riders showed great poise and patience before making their decisive attacks.

In the Short Track (STXC) race on Sunday, Kate Courtney and Chris Blevins (both Specialized Factory Racing) took their respective wins and extended their series points lead in the US Cup series. The riders are control for the race for the two $10,000 winner-take-all prize payouts for the combined US CUP cross country and short track series.

Elite Women Cross Country

The Elite women lined up for six laps on a approximately 2.6-mile course that featured 550 feet of climbing per lap. The course was littered with short punchy climbs and of camber descents that would test the riders’ skills.

From the gun, Kate Coutrney took control with former World Champion Catherine Pendrel in tow. Just a few seconds back was Cannondale/3Rox rider Erin Huck, with Trek’s Emily Batty another 25 seconds back.

By lap two the US Elite National Champion and U23 National champions had established themselves as the strongest, as Huck and Courtney had dropped Pendrel and Batty, among others. With three laps to go, the two were locked in a personal dual.

Meanwhile, Batty had clawed her way back onto Pendrel to grab 3rd. Last week’s runner up Rose Grant was not on pace early, but kept her composure and was now inside the top ten with three laps to go.

Huck showed her savy as she stalked Courtney in the remaining laps, before finally deciding to make a move that would see her win by almost 30 seconds over Courtney. Batty had control over third over fellow Canadian Catherine Pendrel, while Rose Grant salvaged a bad first few laps to round out the top 5 and more importantly, keep her title hopes alive. 

“That was a great race”, exclaimed Huck who was fresh off a Pan Am Championship the week prior. “The course was really challenging but had good flow and Kate was climbing well today and I just tried to be patient. Once we had separation, I started to go to work on her.”

Elite Men Cross Country

An 86-strong field charged hard from the gun, stringing things out and then coming back together towards the end of the start lap. Former Cannondale teammates Anton Cooper (Trek Factory Racing) and Keegan Swenson (Cannondale 3Rox Racing) led the group out on the start loop while Howard Grotts (Specialized Factory Racing) joined to lead a large group out on the first of seven full laps.

After one lap, a group of seven formed which included: Cooper; Grotts; Blevins; Raphael Gagne and Derek Zandstra (both Cannondale 3Rox Racing); Andrew l’Esperance (Forward Racing); and Sergio Mantecon (Trek Factory Racing). Behind, a group of five including Geoff Kabush and Ridebiker Alliance’s Payson McElveen and Stephen Ettinger, took up the chase.

On the second lap, a group of three young riders forced the day’s selection as Cooper, Grotts and Blevins made their move. With an average age of just twenty one years, the lead group powered away and continued to build on their lead on the third and fourth laps. Blevins was gapped on the fourth time up the day’s main climb and spent the final two laps chasing Grotts and 2015 Fontana City winner Cooper. Behind, a group of five were chasing the final two podium spots. This group consisted of Fabio Hernando Castaneda Mosalve (Ruedas de Oro), Cameron Ivory (Australia), Gagne, l’Esperance and Kabush.

Grotts and Cooper continued to put in sub 11’45” laps on a consistent basis to build upon their massive lead but it was Cooper who attacked on the last climb to get the necessary gap, finishing ten seconds on Grotts. US CUP overall winner Blevins came across in third just shy of 2’30” down, while Gagne and l’Esperance rounded out the podium.

“It was a pretty tough day out there. It was real technical and at a really high speed,” said winner Cooper after the finish. “I wasn’t sure how I’d feel after the long travel from New Zealand. I tried to push the pace to break the group down. Howard took the lead on lap four and the final lap was an all out battle. I managed to lay down the watts on the last climb, open a gap and hold on to the finish.”

Elite Women STXC

On Sunday, the women’s short track event held greater importance than ever before, with equal points being scored for the chase for the overall $10,000 prize. With a 2nd in cross country the day prior, Kate Courtney was looking to put more space between her and rival Rose Grant (Stan’s/No Tubes). Early on, the women’s lead group had more than ten riders on the front of the 15 minute-plus-three-laps race. Racing was elbow to elbow for the next few laps as the Luna team had some riders on the front as well.

As time wore on, Courtney and Grant separated themselves and had the group down to five riders with only Pendrel and Batty able to hold on for a while.

With two laps to go, it was a two-person dual and this time, Kate got the win over Grant, (last weekend’s STXC winner) and padded her points lead to 16 with two rounds still to go.

Batty, Pendrel and Luna’s Eva Lechner rounded out the podium on the day.

Elite Men STXC

The men’s race saw some serious horsepower at the front with SRAM/Troy Lee teammates Todd Wells and Russel Finsterwald, along with Trek’s Anton Cooper, the Specialized duo of Howard Grotts and Christopher Blevins and others taking turns at the front of the 15 minutes-plus-three-laps race.

Coming into the last lap the men’s lead group was approaching the lappers, making for some very tense and tight racing as Wells, Blevins and others jockeyed for position.

In the final climb leading into the finish line, teen sensation Christopher Blevins rocketed from the group and was able to grab his second STXC win in as many weeks.

Aussie Cameron Ivy took a well fought second over veteran Todd Wells, with Trek’s Anton Cooper and Specialized’s Howard Grott rounding out the top 5.

By virtue of his 3rd place in yesterdays’ cross country and a win in the STXC, the 19-year-old took one step closer to that $10,000.00 bonus at the end of the series.

“This weekend went far better than expected,” said Blevins at the podium ceremony. “It’s really motivating to come out of here on such good form and I hope it carries through later into the season.”

 

Youth Movement at US CUP Round 1 in Fontana!

San Dimas, California – April 2, 2017: The US CUP presented by Ridebiker Alliance got off to a great start this weekend at Fontana City, California with Specialized Factory Racing’s Kate Courney and Christopher Blevins taking the honors in the cross country races on Saturday. The two young riders (Courtney is 22 while Blevins is just 19) gave a glimpse of a strong future for US cross country racing while beating strong fields of experienced racers.

In the Short Track (STXC) race on Sunday, Courtney finished a close second to Rose Grant (Stan’s NoTubes-Pivot) while Blevins’ late attack gave him the double.

Tie-breaker rules on the women’s results gave the weekend’s leaders jersey to Courtney, while Blevins took a commanding lead in the men’s rankings. The riders are also in the driver’s seat in the race for the two $10,000 winner-take-all prize payouts for the combined US CUP cross country and short track series. This special prize awards the Best All Around Rider in the US CUP series, with points granted equally for cross country and short track.

 

Elite women Cross Country

The Elite women lined up for five laps of the approximately 3.5-mile course that featured 600 feet of climbing per lap. The early start time made for perfect weather conditions. Right from the gun, a group of seven formed on the first lap including four women from the Clif Pro Team (Eva Lechner, Andrea Waldis, Haley Batten and Maghalie Rochette) plus Courtney, Rose Grant and Alexis Skarda (both STANS NOTUBES-Pivot). This group would animate the front of the race from this point forward.

On the second lap, Grant and Courtney showed their strength by separating from the Clif riders, foreshadowing the decisive action in the race. The two built up a 15-second lead at the end of lap two but the teamwork of the Clif Pro Team brought things together at the midway point of the race. On the bell lap, Courtney and Grant were again off the front, with Lechner and Waldis chasing hard.

On the final lap it would be Courtney who proved strongest, attacking Grant to take the win by 13 seconds.

“I’m super excited about this win, as well as being in the chase for that big prize!” said Courtney post-race. “It’s really great when an early season race goes so well. Next weekend at Bonelli will be a bit different, as it’s usually a World Cup quality field. I hope I can continue the good form. I’d like to give special thanks to my Specialized Factory Racing Team for all their great support this weekend as well.”

 

Elite men Cross Country

The men lined up for six laps of the challenging course. Similar to the women’s race, the decisive group was formed early, with Blevins joined by Luke Vrouwenvelder (Bear Development), Russel Finsterwald and Todd Wells (both SRAM/TLD Racing) and Evan Guthrie (Team Solo Evan). This group gradually grew an insurmountable lead by working together over the next few laps until lap 5 when Blevins put in a blistering attack that would last until the finish line. The 19-year-old took the win over Vrouwenvelder by over a minute and a half, with Evan Guthrie just behind.

A moment of concern occurred just before the bell lap for Wells, who had been dropped by the lead group on lap five. The former multi-National Champion took a hard fall on the final turn before the line and lay injured across the narrow lane for a few tense moments before restarting and finishing a painful last lap.

 

Elite Women STXC

On Sunday, the women’s short track event held greater importance than ever before, with equal points being scored for the chase for the overall $10,000 prize. The 21-strong field got off to a clean start with Courtney charging hard and taking the hole shot into the first turn. The first lap began the selection process and by the second lap of the 15-minutes plus 3 laps race, the definitive lead group of five were formed by Grant, Courtney, Evelyn Dong (Full Cycle/Liv), Alexis Skarda (Stans NoTubes-Pivot) and Shayna Powless (Sho-Air/Twenty20).

With Courtney sitting second wheel for almost the entire race, the eventual winning move seemed a formality until the final lap when Rose Grant forced the winning move and powered home to take the win. Kate Courtney took second while Skarda come in third.

A special mention goes out to Amy Beisel of Gunnison, Colorado who flatted just before staging. After pulling a nail from her tire and a quick change she started the race thirty seconds down on the group. Determined to score points in her specialty, Beisel chased through the pack one by one to finish ninth out of seventeen!

 

 

Elite Men STXC

The men’s race saw Blevins take the holeshot and lead through a very quick first lap, stringing the dusty group out. By the third lap a lead group of six formed, including favorites Blevins, Wells and Finsterwald. The group worked well together until they got the three-to-go sign, where Blevins and Wells were able to create a gap. Blevins put in a hard charge on the last lap to get the decisive gap and take the win. The results for second, sixth and ninth all came down photo finishes!

“This weekend went far better than expected,” said Blevins at the podium ceremony. “It’s really motivating to come out of here on such good form and I hope it carries through to next weekend.”