After finding himself without a pro contract for 2013, following the recent, sudden closure of his team due a doping infringement, South African mountain biker Kevin Evans has been thrown a lifeline by former rival team, FedGroup-Itec.
Evans has been signed to the growing professional mountain bike racing team for a period of two years (2013-2014). He joins fellow elite male riders Brandon Stewart and Neil MacDonald, Under 23 male Brad Stroberg and elite female Bridgette Stewart.
"It's amazing how the people involved in the FedGroup-Itec team have been so supportive and have given me this opportunity. Also to Scott bicycles for their continued support. I am truly grateful and look forward to a being brand ambassador to the best of my ability," said Evans, whose previous team 360Life-Nedbank team folded after his teammate David George tested positive for EPO and subsequently admitted using the drug.
"We were quick to offer Kevin a ride on our team, largely because he's such a great ambassador, not just for his sponsors but also for the sport of mountain biking. His addition to our team allows us to grow the team to a new level and really tackle the serious racing side of the sport at the highest level with more consistency and confidence," said Stewart, who also owns the team. "With myself, Kevin and Neil, we'll have a wide range options in our quest for all the major race podiums in South Africa and even abroad."
"We have yet to finalise our Cape Epic plans, but Brandon and I have started every single edition of the race and obviously, being the 10th anniversary, it's a big year for the race and for us each personally in 2013. I'll be on the start line for sure and riding my heart out as usual. It's a race I'd love to win still, but I do have my eye on a marathon world champs medal too; and with the 2014 marathon Worlds in South Africa, that will be a big focus for me," said Evans.
For Scott Field, Executive Member of FedGroup, the signing of Evans is another opportunity for growth. "Life throws you a curve ball every now and then and it's those that turn the situation around that really show true character. We can identify with Kevin's curve-ball situation and didn't hesitate to offer him a contract. In fact, we actually started this team by throwing Brandon (Stewart) a similar lifeline in 2011. It turned out to be sound decision that's reaped great results.
"Kevin's got a superb racing pedigree and is a family man, two qualities we can identify with as a business. Signing him up for a two-year period will help give the team stability from which I'm sure the results will be impressive. This is simply also an extension of FedGroup's involvement in mountain biking in South Africa," said Field.
FedGroup is the title sponsor of the annual FedGroup Berg & Bush, a series of three popular mountain bike stage races in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
"We're in this sport for the long haul and signing Kevin up is a pivotal move in our quest to move forward with the intention to grow this team. As sponsors, we have some experience now in what it takes to run a team successfully, so we're not just being blindly optimistic, we are passionate about mountain biking and see this as a sound investment in the team's future," said Gavin Meyer, Managing Director of Itec Connect.
Over an 11-year professional racing career, the popular Evans has been a four-time national marathon champion, one-time elite cross country national champion, one-time national elite road individual time trial champion, multiple-time Cape Epic stage winner and overall podium finisher and marathon World Cup round winner. He has also won virtually every major marathon and short stage race in South Africa.
The team will be riding Scott bicycles as a result of the equipment and financial backing the brand is offering to the team in support of Evans, who has helped the Swiss-based brand raise its profile in the growing endurance racing category over the past two years.