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Cross country racer Russell Finsterwald has signed with a new team formed by SRAM and Troy Lee Designs, which is being called the SRAM-Troy Lee Designs Mountain Bike Team. Finsterwald will be joined by Shaw brothers, Luca and Walker, both downhillers.
Finsterwald, from Colorado Spring, Colorado, was the 2012 Under 23 US cross country national champion and is a former under 23 Pan Am Champion. He will concentrate on a national and UCI World Cup cross country schedule and made his 2014 debut last weekend at the Mellow Johnny's Classic, where he finished 10th. He previously raced for the Subaru Trek Factory team.
Hendersonville, North Carolina-based Walker Shaw was the 2013 US junior downhill national champion. As a first-year pro, Walker will campaign a carefully selected schedule that will include national and World Cup downhill events and enduros. Younger brother Luca starts the 2014 UCI Junior World Cup Downhill series ranked third.
SRAM, a Chicago-based bicycle component manufacturer, has a long tradition of supporting racing, from grass-roots contests to the World Cup level. It currently provides product sponsorship and technical assistance to 27 teams and 100 professional athletes around the globe. Now, the company will also fly its own colors in local, national and World Cup competition.
"For years we'd been talking about starting our own in-house team but extra resources and athlete opportunities never seemed to coincide," said John Dawson, SRAM Mountain Bike Sports Marketing Manager.
"Then it all just came together at Ft. William last season, hanging in the pit with longtime friend Craig Glaspell from Troy Lee Designs. We got all fired up on caffeine and started brainstorming the idea of creating a program that was free from outside influence. The foundation being each athlete would have total freedom to race any frame they felt was the fastest and we would take care of the rest. Now that it's a reality, I can't be more stoked to announce the coolest team on the mountain bike race scene: SRAM / Troy Lee Designs Racing."
Beyond being the program's co-sponsor, and clothing and design partner, Troy Lee Designs' racing heritage and dedication to athlete development played a key role in SRAM's decision to create the new team. Its TLD / Lucas Oil / Honda Supercross team, in fact, provided a model on which to pattern the program.
"Ever since I heard the idea of a global SRAM development team from John Dawson, I knew we had to be involved," said Craig "Stikman" Glaspell, Troy Lee Designs Global Bicycle Marketing Manager.
"Our brand is seeing a lot of growth in mountain bike riding currently, but as most people know, our roots lie heavily in racing. When it came around to becoming a reality, Troy was adamant about being involved and doing whatever it takes to be a design partner for the team. Troy knows what it takes to be a team owner, as TLD is the only protection and apparel company to have an in-house Supercross team, so he embraces SRAM's dedication to racing and product development from his own experiences."