Giant presented both it's men's and women's elite mountain bike teams for 2014, including its Pro XC men's squad and its Liv/Giant women's roster.
Back to lead the Giant Pro XC team this year is Swiss rider Fabian Giger. The 26-year-old started the season on a high note earlier this month, when he won the Cyprus Sunshine Cup season opener, a four-day stage race.
Giger, who finished the 2013 season ranked number eight in the world, showed great early season form in Cyprus at the Afxentia stage race, his first race of the year. Facing a deep field of cross country pros from around the world, he won the pivotal stage 2 and then defended his lead over the next two days.
"It's great to have such a good start to the season," Giger said. "I'm excited about the team this year. The team is getting in some great early-season training down here in the warm climate."
Van der Heijden, just 22 years old, has steadily risen through the ranks during his time with Giant. He went from being the junior cross country world champion in 2010 to the under 23 cross country World Cup champion in 2012. And he begins this season wearing the Dutch national champion's jersey after winning the elite men's cross country championship in 2013. Like Giger, Van der Heijden had a strong showing at his season-opening race in Cyprus, riding consistently in the top-10 of the elite men's field and finishing 10th overall.
The third member of the team, Lindgren, is a two-time elite men's cross country champion in Sweden and a consistent World Cup contender. A flat tire on stage 2 of the Cyprus Sunshine Cup put Lindgren out of contention for the overall, but he bounced back to finish on the podium in stages 3 and 4.
All three Giant Pro XC Team riders will race primarily on two bikes: the XtC Advanced 27.5, a composite hardtail, and the Anthem Advanced 27.5 with Maestro Suspension.
Two of the biggest talents in women's cross country racing - one a former world champion, the other a current under 23 world champion - make up the heart of the new Liv Pro XC Women's Team for 2014.
Maja Wloszczowska and Jolanda Neff, both riders on the Giant Pro XC Team last year, are now flying the colors of Liv/Giant, the cycling brand dedicated to women. The two will ride Liv/Giant women's-specific bikes and wear Liv/Giant race kits and apparel at World Cups and other major international cross country races around the world.
"I'm thrilled to be racing with the same team organization as last year, but now fully backed by the Liv women's brand," said Wloszczowska, the 2010 women's cross country world champion from Poland.
Neff, the two-time world champion in the women's under 23 cross country category, got her 2014 season off to a fast start in Cyprus last week, where she won the season opener Cyprus Sunshine Cup. Neff won two stages, finished second in the other two, and took the GC win over a talented field of pro women.
"It's a great start to the season, I couldn't be happier," said Neff, a 23-year-old Swiss rider. "We're all looking forward to big things with the Liv team in 2014."
Wloszczowska and Neff will race primarily on two women's specific Liv/Giant bikes: the Obsess Advanced, a composite hardtail with 27.5 wheels, and the Lust Advanced, which features 27.5 wheels and Maestro Suspension. They will also wear race kits and apparel supplied by Liv/Giant.
2014 Giant Pro XC Team
Fabian Giger (Switzerland)
Emil Lindgren (Sweden)
Michiel van der Heijden (The Netherlands)
2014 Liv Pro XC Women's Team
Maja Wloszczowska (Poland)
Jolanda Neff (Switzerland