By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Giant recently presented its 2006 MTB squad in Aschau, Germany. The international squad from the Taiwan bicycle colossus is an important part of not only their marketing program, but also a valuable source of research and development for Giant mountain bikes. Giant global sport marketing manager Tom Davies explained, "As we've been doing for more than a decade now, Giant is delighted to continue backing a MTB team of such great quality. This clearly enables us to remain at the cutting edge of MTB technology and racing."
Davies told Cyclingnews that the Giant MTB team will be using both the reliable hardtail and the new dual suspension Anthem racing bikes. "We're really excited about the way the new Anthem combines the same kind of efficiency in power transfer we've worked so hard to get, together with added comfort," declared Davies
Giant MTB Team directeur sportif Sven Zeppel explained the squad's sporting goals in Aschau. "For us, a primary objective is to get a rainbow jersey from a World Championships," he said. "No matter what event it comes in, that's initially our main goal for the Giant MTB team this year."
Looking at team cross-country top dog Bart Brentjens, Zeppel said "Bart is the man of experience of the team, and has won virtually everything there is, so we know we can rely on him."
For his part, 37 year old Sir Bart is positive about the coming season with Giant. "The marathon rainbow jersey is the only one that's missing in my collection and that's the one I want the most in 2006," he said. "But I won't just be limiting myself to the World Championships, because there are plenty of other races, like World Cups, where I want to show the fans what I'm capable of doing."
Giant will also have off-road talent, World Championship podium finisher and World Cup winner Roel Paulissen of Belgium. The 29 year old is a solid rider and Zeppel says, "Roel can benefit from the knowledge that Bart is so experienced at mountain bike racing and at the same time, we see Roel is more open to different goals, with World Cups one key specialty."
British rider Oli Beckinsdale, Austrian Martin Kraler and German Stefan Sahm round out the five-man Giant MTB squad for 2006. Team director Zeppel says, "Martin, Stefan and Oliver will all have their own objectives throughout the season as well, with national champions' jerseys one key 2006 goal. But there will be other goals; I know Oliver is training hard and focusing on the Commonwealth Games MTB event in March."
Next up for the Giant MTB riders is some early season racing in Cyprus with their national teams, then Giant will launch the entire team at the Liquigas Cup in Brescia, Italy on March 18. Giant MTB then head to Curaçao for the first World Cup event of the season on April 1.