Posted by Editoress on 02/24/14
The Giant Factory Off-Road Team enters the 2014 season with an expanded roster of Downhill, Enduro and XC athletes representing seven different nations from around the world. This year's lineup of nine riders includes world champions, Olympians and national champions from all disciplines of off-road racing.
"If you look at the products Giant is developing right now you can see how committed we are to the progression of downhill, enduro and trail riding," said Giant Global Marketing Director An Le. "Working with these amazing athletes is critical to our success. They inspire riders around the world, and they drive us to create better bikes and gear."
Leading the lineup of downhillers this year is former world champion Danny Hart. Coming back after a 2012 injury, the 22-year-old from Great Britain had two podium finishes in last year's World Cup series and is looking to improve on his ninth place overall ranking from 2013.
"I've been training hard over the winter to dial in my form and equipment and I'm thrilled to be flying the flag for Giant again this year," Hart said. "The opener in South Africa is just around the corner, I can't wait to hit the circuit with my Giant Glory."
Hart is joined by veteran South African rider Andrew Neethling, who last month won his first major race of 2014, the African Continental Downhill Championship. Neethling battled some injuries in the early part of the 2013 season but still managed a podium performance at the Hafjell, Norway, World Cup and finished 12th overall. This year he is aiming for more podium finishes and a top-10 overall.
The third returning member of the Factory Team's downhill unit is four-time Colombian national champion Marcelo Gutierrez. The 23-year-old had a breakthrough debut season with the team last year, finishing 11th overall in the World Cup and scoring an impressive eighth place at the World Championships. Gutierrez is also known as one of the world's best urban downhill racers, with wins at legendary races such as the Valparaiso Cerro Abajo in Chile.
New to the DH squad this year is Junior racer Alex Marin of Spain. Last year Marin won the Catalonia Cup in Spain and finished 6th at the Spanish Downhill Championships.
The other half of the Giant Factory Off-Road Team is focused on enduro and XC events. Last year Giant veteran Adam Craig transitioned from XC to Enduro racing. The American focused mainly on the Enduro World Series, where he finished top-10 overall and was the best North American in the pro men's rankings.
"I had a steep learning curve last year, and I surprised myself with some solid results like fourth place overall at Whistler," Craig said. "My winter training is all about getting more comfortable riding at really high speeds. Enduro racing at that level is about pushing through mental and physical exhaustion, and still going really, really fast. I'm pumped to take it to the next level."
Australian enduro racer Josh Carlson had his 2013 season cut short by injuries he sustained in a crash at Round 2 of the Enduro World Series, but he's back this year and aiming for the podium. Also returning to the team are Americans Carl Decker, four-time defending champion of the Downieville All-Mountain World Championships, and Kelli Emmett, who finished top-10 overall and was the best North American female in the first Enduro World Series last year.
The second newcomer to the team is French enduro racer Yoann Barelli. The 28-year-old is a former French national champion in downhill racing who is now focusing on enduro. He finished 15th overall in last year's Enduro World Series and is ready to elevate his riding with the team in 2014.
2014 Giant Factory Off-Road Team
Yoann Barelli (France), Enduro
Josh Carlson (Australia), Enduro
Adam Craig (USA), Enduro
Carl Decker (USA), Enduro, XC, Marathon
Kelli Emmett (USA), Enduro, XC, Marathon
Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Colombia) DH
Danny Hart (Great Britain) DH
Alex Marin (Spain) DH
Andrew Neethling (South Africa) DH
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