MTB Teams 2017

BY SAN­DRA WAL­TER

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - by San­dra Wal­ter

The 2017 sea­son will see many changes to its ros­ter of Cana­dian moun­tain-bike teams in the form of new spon­sors, rid­ers and ad­di­tions, as the Norco Fac­tory XC Team de­buts with a UCI World Cup des­ig­na­tion, 3 Rox Rac­ing gains Can­non­dale as its ti­tle spon­sor, whilst MVP Ge­off Kabush (BC, Scott-Maxxis) branches off on his own and For­ward Rac­ing de­buts. Mean­while, the down­hill scene loses two ma­jor teams in Devinci Global Rac­ing and OGC/In­tense/Fox.

CROSS-COUN­TRY

Fol­low­ing the lead of its Down­hill/En­duro coun­ter­part, the Norco Fac­tory XC Team has up­graded from a Cana­dian Trade Team to a UCI World Cup squad, which will see it shift fo­cus from the na­tional to the world stage. The ros­ter has also been pared down to only three rid­ers – Elite wo­man Ha­ley Smith (ON), Elite man Peter Dis­era (ON) and U23 man Quin­ton Dis­era (ON). “We be­lieve that Ha­ley, Peter and Quin­ton all have the tal­ent to be suc­cess­ful on the world stage, and el­e­vat­ing the Norco Fac­tory Team pro­gram to the World Cup level will pro­vide them the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop as we ap­proach the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo,” said Kevin Hav­i­land, team co­or­di­na­tor.

Mean­while, Norco con­tin­ues its do­mes­tic pres­ence with the all­new For­ward Rac­ing squad, fea­tur­ing a trio of Canada’s top male cross-coun­try rac­ers – An­drew L’Esper­ance (NS), Evan McNeely (ON) and Sean Fin­cham (BC). The project is di­rected by for­mer long­time Norco Fac­tory Team rid­ers L’Esper­ance and McNeely, who re­tained the sup­port of many of the same spon­sors, in­clud­ing Norco. “We are very ex­cited to be work­ing with Norco Bi­cy­cles. The ath­letes have a strong his­tory with the brand and are thrilled to be on the Re­volver again this sea­son,” said L’Esper­ance. In ad­di­tion to se­lect North Amer­i­can events, For­ward Rac­ing will be con­test­ing four World Cup rounds.

The long-lived 3 Rox Rac­ing pro­gram has made some big changes this year. Af­ter its con­tract with Scott Sports ended in 2016, the squad took on Can­non­dale as its ti­tle spon­sor and, in turn, gained Cana­dian rocket and Olympian Raphael Gagné (QC) on its ros­ter, which in­cludes Cana­dian cham­pion Derek Zand­stra (ON) and Amer­i­can cham­pion Erin Huck (USA), plus newly signed U.S. hot­shot Kee­gan Swen­son (USA). They will fo­cus once again on World Cups and ma­jor North Amer­i­can races. The team sees head­liner Kabush move on, as he con­tin­ues to ride Scott bikes at a se­lec­tion of North Amer­i­can events.

The On­tario-based Trek Canada Moun­tain Bike Team is led by U23 World Cup’er Soren Meeuwisse (ON). She is joined by do­mes­tic rid­ers Sarah Fab­bro, Jon Barnes and Peter Glass­ford, who will fo­cus on Canada Cups, On­tario Cups and the Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup.

The Pivot-OTE Team, backed by Cana­dian Pivot Cy­cles dis­trib­u­tor On The Edge Sports, has ex­panded its pro­gram to in­clude four-time Cana­dian cham­pion Fred­erique Trudel (QC) as she com­petes in her first sea­son in the Elite women’s field. Fel­low team new­bie for­mer ju­nior Na­tional cham­pion Marc-An­dré Fortier (QC) is tar­get­ing World Cups in the U23 men’s ranks. Re­turn­ing mem­bers Raphael Au­clair (QC), Felix Bel­humeur (QC), Mathieu Belanger (QC) and Philippe St-Lau­rent (QC) will join their new team­mates rac­ing on the Pivot LES and Mach 429 SL steeds. Also join­ing the OTE fam­ily this year is for­mer Norco Fac­tory Team rider Evan Guthrie (BC), run­ning his own pri­va­teer project “Team Solo Guthrie.”

The B.C.-based Rocky Moun­tain Fac­tory XC Team is a mix of hard­ened vet­er­ans and young guns. Last year’s Cana­dian ju­nior women’s XCO cham­pion Emily Hand­ford (BC) will tackle her first year as a U23, while Quinn Moburg (BC) takes his first crack at the Elite men’s ranks. Felix Burke (QC) aims to progress in the U23 men’s cat­e­gory af­ter a strong 2016. The young­sters are joined by Cana­dian leg­end An­dreas Hestler (BC) and Greg Day (BC).

Club Cy­clone d’Alma, based out of Que­bec’s re­mote Lac-St-Jean re­gion, has seen great suc­cess in moun­tain bik­ing on the na­tional and in­ter­na­tional stages, thanks in large part to 2016 Olympian Léan­dre Bouchard (QC) and his coach, 2016 Cy­cling Canada Coach of the Year, Jude Dufour (QC). As Bouchard moves onto in­ter­na­tional Pro­fes­sional team BH-Sun­tour, he leaves a legacy for his for­mer Cy­clone team­mates, in­clud­ing Cana­dian U23 women’s XCO cham­pion Cather­ine Fleury (QC), who earned her first World Cup podium last year. She is joined by Cana­dian Elim­i­na­tor cham­pion Anne-Julie Trem­blay, as well as Stéphanie Trem­blay, Wil­liam Mal­tais-Pilote and Noémie Trem­blay.

An­other small Que­bec team that has pro­duced great re­sults, cour­tesy of Cana­dian Team rider and mul­ti­ple Cana­dian Cham­pi­onship medal­ist Cindy Mon­tam­bault, is Trek-GPL. Mon­tam­bault en­ters the 2017 sea­son with a con­tin­ued fo­cus on World Cups and World Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

DOWN­HILL/EN­DURO

The Van­cou­ver-based Dun­bar Cy­cles squad has a long tra­di­tion of sup­port­ing great Cana­dian down­hill’ers, and 2017 is no ex­cep­tion as Elite men’s Cana­dian Down­hill cham­pion Kirk McDowall (BC) leads fel­low speed­sters An­drew Mitchell (BC) and Dean Ten­nant (BC) on the small shop-sup­ported crew.

The Norco Fac­tory Rac­ing Down­hill/En­duro squad is headed once again by Kiwi su­per­star Sam Blenk­in­sop (NZL). He is joined by young Canuck shred­der Henry Fitzger­ald (CAN) and Brit Joe Smith (GBR). While Fitzger­ald will fo­cus on down­hill, both Blenk­in­sop and Smith will con­test a combo of World Cup down­hill, En­duro World Se­ries and Crankworx events. “Join­ing the Norco Fac­tory team is an un­real op­por­tu­nity for me,” said Fitzger­ald. “The team is the full pack­age, with an ex­cit­ing bike, out­stand­ing sup­port and an awe­some crew. I can’t wait [for] my first year of Elite with such a great team to learn from.”

Even though Devinci Global Rac­ing has sus­pended its down­hill

pro­gram this year, the brand will con­tinue to sup­port rac­ing through its Devinci Global Rac­ing En­duro Team, led by Frenchman Damien Oton (FRA) and Théo Galy (FRA). In a press re­lease, Devinci Global Rac­ing ex­plained how the tragic loss of its star rider Steve Smith (BC) last spring af­fected the or­ga­ni­za­tion: “This sad news was hard on ev­ery­one at Devinci, and it also had a ma­jor im­pact on rid­ers and fans all over the world. Steve’s con­tri­bu­tion and com­mit­ment to the Devinci brand, but most im­por­tantly to the sport, will al­ways be re­mem­bered.”

The state­ment con­tin­ued to ex­plain the rea­son­ing be­hind dis­solv­ing the down­hill pro­gram: “Un­able to put to­gether a team that met our ex­pec­ta­tions, we took the de­ci­sion to step away from UCI down­hill rac­ing for 2017. It was an in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make, but we hope to re­turn to World Cup rac­ing in the very near fu­ture.”

Rocky Moun­tain re­mains a pil­lar on the com­pet­i­tive Grav­ity moun­tain-bik­ing scene with its Rocky Moun­tain Urge BP Rally Team, the top-ranked squad on the En­duro World Se­ries cir­cuit in 2016. It hangs on to its strong Cana­dian con­tent in 2017 in the form of Jesse Melamed (BC), Remi Gau­vin (BC) and An­dreane Lan­thier-Nadeau (QC). The ros­ter is topped off with French­men Flo­rian Ni­co­lai (FRA) and Se­bastien Claquin (FRA), as well as Amer­i­can Peter Ostroski (USA). Nadeau and Ostroski will fo­cus on the North Amer­i­can scene, while the rest of the crew plans to hit up all of the En­duro World Se­ries stops.

The new Norco Fac­tory XC Team is now as a UCI World Cup squad: (l-r) Ha­ley Smith, Peter and Quin­ton Dis­era.

Soren Meeuwisse leads the Trek Canada MTB team on a

train­ing ride.

Can­non­dale-3 Rox Rac­ing’s (l-r): Raphael Gagné, Derek Zand­stra,

Erin Huck and Kee­gan Swen­son

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