A new venture for Andrew L’esperance and Evan Mcneely
Andrew L’esperance and Evan Mcneely formed Forward Racing-norco after being downsized from the Norco Factory Racing roster earlier this year. Although not on a factory squad, the riders are continuing to get support from Norco through equipment sponsorship. The Port Coquitlam, B.c.-based company has also helped to bring Kenda tires and sram onboard as well.
“From the get-go, Norco had our back, just in a different capacity,” said L’esperance. “They’ve stood by us, which is great. We now also have more control over some of the details, like the design of the team logo and our riding kit.”
In February, L’esperance and Mcneely were working hard to secure additional sponsors and to solidify a race calendar. To round out the squad, they brought on under-23 rider Sean Fincham to help support the promising mountain biker. “Sean reminds me of myself at that point in my career,” said Mcneely. “He’s done really well, winning the junior title at nationals last year and eighth at junior worlds. Andrew and I are hoping we can share our experience to help Sean get even stronger.”
The change from being fully supported racers to competitors and team managers has added a lot to their workload. The two have secured funding for the season, and established a calendar that is a mix of North American and World Cup events. They’re also sorting out support staff. At some events, Norco mechanics will look after the bikes, and at other races, Mcneely and L’esperance will hire their own support.
“The best part of the whole process for me has been sharing all of this with people who are close to us,” said L’esperance. “We’ve been able to bring on some great connections who have become sponsors who are devoted to helping us succeed.”— Deancampbell