The French company Lapierre is backing Team Lapierre International, a team of elite cross country, downhill and enduro racers for 2010 including Sam Blenkinsop, Nicolas Vouillez, Cédric Ravanel and Cécile Ravanel. The bike manufacturer is a long-time sponsor of mountain bike teams.
Blenkinsop is just 21 years old, but has a long list of podiums and even a World Cup win to his name. The young New Zealander will lead the new downhill portion of the team. He'll be joined by Frenchman Nicolas Vouilloz, who is known as E.T. on the race circuit and who will be participating in the enduro mountain bike circuit while also racing a selection of prestigious rally car competitions like Monte Carlo and San Remo. Known for his attention to detail, the 33-year-old Vouilloz will spend time at the downhill race paddocks in 2010 in his role as product developer for Lapierre.
"It's going to be great to ride alongside 10-time world champ Nico Vouilloz, someone I really respect," said Blenkinsop. "I'm really looking forward to getting to know everyone on the team. I reckon the bike is the best looking bike out there, and I can't wait to start testing next month. After learning so much with my last team, I'm looking forward to this new chapter in my career with Lapierre."
Blenkinsop and Vouilloz will be joined by a third downhiller on the team, Sam Flockhart of the United Kingdom. Though he was still in the junior category last year, Flockhart finished 15th in the overall of the Maxxis Cup.
The cross country team will be composed of three French riders: Alexis Vuillermoz, who placed second in the Under 23 race at the World Championships and who won the French Under 23 national championship title; 2008 and 2009 French national champion Cécile Ravanel; and Cédric Ravanel, who placed sixth at the 2009 World Championships. All three riders finished the 2009 season strong and will continue to work towards the upcoming Olympic Games in London.
Team Lapierre International will be present at the World Cups, French Cups, the Sea Otter Classic, Whistler Festival, Enduro Series, and the various national and international championships.
"At Lapierre, we've always been passionate about racing, and we've actively sponsored riders at all levels since the late 80s. We've had the opportunity to work with some excellent athletes in the past, and for 2010 we're excited to offer a professional structure and healthy race environment to some new riders," said Gilles Lapierre, the Managing Director of Lapierre.
Lapierre will continue working with partner Pure Agency, a marketing and communication agency specialized in sports.