Mountain bike news: Athertons, Trek and Dahle Flesjaa

What's happened in the dirt world

British downhiller Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal), the current men's world champion, will compete in the opening round of the 2009 UCI World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa next week. His sister and teammate Rachel, also a downhill world champion, will have to sit out the racing due to injury.

Gee won the first round of the Maxxis Cup in Gouviea, Portugal, for the second year in succession earlier this month and declared himself motivated and ready to begin his assault on the World Cup. He is currently ranked number one on the UCI's latest world rankings, just a few points ahead of South Africa's World Cup champion, Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate), who hasn't raced yet this year, preferring to make his competitive debut at the opening round of the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, which is his hometown.

Despite more than a month of rest and rehabilitation, Rachel will have to sit out the opening round. "We are sorry to say there has been no major improvement with the nerve damage in Rach's shoulder," read a team press release. Atherton injured her shoulder in a collision with a pick-up truck while training in California in January.

She visited a number of specialists over the last few weeks. All have been unable to give a clear indication on her recovery time. She will wait a further four weeks to see if her nerve condition improves. In the meantime, she continues to train with the aim of returning to racing as soon as possible.

Gee's brother Dan is also confirmed for the World Cup opener. Dan is currently ranked 21st in the world for downhill racing, but is ranked fourth in 4X, his preferred discipline, which he will contest in Pietermaritzburg.

The Pietermartizburg round of the World Cup will take place on April 10-12.

Trek's MTB teams boast seven wins so far

In the first six weeks of its 2009 season, Trek's racing programmes counted seven wins including Rene Wildhaber's win of the Urge Kenya enduro downhill, an Under 23 Pan American championship, a stage win at the Cape Epic and two consecutive wins at the Maxxis Cup.

This past weekend, Trek World Racing's cross country brothers Mathias and Lukas Flückiger rode to victory during the final stage 7 of South Africa's Cape Epic. After finishing second place in stage 3, the Flückiger brothers rode hard despite mechanical setbacks to finish a respectable eighth place overall. The brothers were happy with their performance at a race that they had considered a "training ride" from the start.

"To cross the finish line with my brother is so much more meaningful than crossing the line by myself, and that's what I really like about the Cape Epic format," said Lukas. "I'll be back for sure."

In the same race, Trek's Bart Brentjens Mountain Bike Racing Team claimed second place overall thanks to Dutch marathon legend Bart Brentjens and Australian national champion Chris Jongewaard. Trek - Brentjens also earned second place in stage 5 and victory in stage 6.

Riding for Trek Store Toronto and Canada, Emily Batty won the Under 23 women's Pan American cross country championship in Chile. The 21-year-old Batty finished a solid seven minutes ahead of the competition.

Trek World Racing's Tracy Moseley hasn't missed a beat in gravity competitions. In the Maxxis Cup rounds in Vaigo and Gouveia, she smashed the field and put in times that would put many an elite male rider to shame.

Finally, Trek World Racing's Justin Leov nailed it on his home turf to overcome former teammate Sam Blenkinsop and claim the New Zealand National Championship downhill title. In what is fast becoming a winter training grounds for the world's fastest downhillers, Leov ruled the roost.

Dahle Flesjaa becomes a mom

World marathon champion Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa and Cyclingnews.com diarist became a mother on Sunday when she gave birth to her son, Mark.

Dahle Flesjaa is hoping to return to international racing at the Montello Marathon, which will double as the Italian marathon national championships on June 28.

"Two months without a bike. It's a long time for me," said Dahle Flesjaa according to solobike.it. "I hope to be at my best during the Montello Marathon. I'm looking forward to the race and all the emotions connected with this event."

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