4 Riders with Mad Skills On AND Off the Road

Mountain biking and road racing may come from the same DNA, but much like Snooker and Pool, there is no denying both are different sports that require different levels of skill, fitness and technicalities.

However, if you find you have certain talent for one, the likelihood is you will be able to utilise a number of those attributes over to the other code.

That is certainly the case in cycling and Mountain biking as we look at some of the most successful transitions from road to dirt and vice-versa.

Now retired, Dane Michael Rasmussen began his career mountain biking and was quite the dab hand at the sport.

So much so in fact he won the 1999 Cross Country World Mountain Bike Championship defeating runner up Frenchman Miguel Martinez and third place Belgian Filip Meirhaeghe.

In 2001, Rasmussen made the switch to the road after earning a Stagiaire with CSC-Tiscali and would go on to shine in the 2005, 2006 Tour de France winning the mountain classification with aplomb.

He clearly put his mountain biking prowess to good use as all four stage wins came in the mountain classification.

However, Rasmussen’s career was tainted by doping scandals and in 2013 he openly admitted that he had cheated for 12 years and was subsequently banned from the sport for two years.

Australian Evans was a serial silver medallist during his mountain biking years in the 1990’s and early noughties.

In fact, five silver medals followed for Evans at various Mountain Bike World Championships before making the switch to road racing in 2001 after impressing on the 1999 Tour of Tasmania.

Evans was proclaimed as a potential future Tour de France winner and achieved the feat in 2011, although one is where it remained unlike 2019 favourite Chris Froome who can be backed at 11/4 with Betway as of the 10th December to win a fifth Tour de France title.

He did, however, still go on to have a hugely successful road career outside the Tour de France as well which included a Commonwealth gold medal in 2002 as well as a World Championship gold in 2009.

However, Evans returned to his mountain biking roots in 2017 taking part in South Africa’s epic eight-day Absa Cape Epic stage race in the master’s category.

Remarkably, Evans and team mate George Hincapie won their category at the age of 40.

The Slovakian Tourminator has a fine record on the road including eleven stage wins on the Tour de France and four individual stage wins on the Vuelta a España and three World Road Race Championships.

A host of other wins aside from the grand tours have followed for Sagan but there are too many to list here.

But it is Sagan’s off-road exploits for which he has earned a sturdy reputation.

Most notably at the 2016 Rio Olympics in which were it not for a series of mechanical issues, he may well have claimed an extraordinary gold medal in the cross-country race.

At the end of lap one, Sagan was in the top three and out to spring a surprise, however, a front wheel puncture ended his hopes.

Admittedly, Sagan is a former junior World Mountain Bike champion and is well versed in the discipline and at just 28-years of age, what’s the betting on Sagan to reappear for another crack at Cross-Country gold at an Olympics coming soon?

After all, that is what we all want to see, isn’t it?

American Amber Neben got her mountain biking career underway with a two-and-a-half-year spell with the SoBe HeadShok team and achieved a second place at the 1999 collegiate US National Mountain Bike Trials.

A certain Willow Koerber as the winner that day with Kelli Emmet in third which just goes to show how talented a mountain biker Amber Neben is.

Technology has come a long way since 1999 in mountain biking but rather than stick with the progression of the sport, Neben found she has a remarkable talent for road racing after winning the Cascade Classic in 2001.

More success would follow after making the permanent switch to the road including two World Time Trial Championships in 2008 and as recently as 2016.

However, doping reared its ugly head in 2003 with Neben testing positive for banned substance 19-norandrosterone.

Despite receiving a suspension, it was determined the substance was taken unintentionally and Neben soon accepted regular tests to prove she was clean at all times.

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