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WorldTour road racer Rabon switches to mountain bike racing

Cycling News
November 23, 2013, 20:55,
November 23, 2013, 20:56
MTB News & Racing Round-up, Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).

  • Frantisek Rabon (Omega Pharma-QuickStep).
  • Frantisek Rabon
  • Frantisek Rabon and Tony Martin (Omega Pharma Quickstep)

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Czech rider signs with Specialized Racing Factory MTB Team

Current WorldTour road racer Frantisek Rabon is trading in his skinny tires for some fatter tires in 2014. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep team rider has signed with Specialized Racing Factory Mountain Bike Team for next season.

"I couldn't be more thrilled to join the Specialized Racing Factory MTB Team next year," said Rabon according to his new team. "I've always loved mountain bike racing and to have the support and expertise of Specialized behind me is truly a dream come true."

Rabon started his professional road career in 2006 with T-Mobile, which later became HTC-Highroad. The Czech super domestique signed with the Omega Pharma-QuickStep road squad in 2012, where his hard work and massive engine helped solidify him as a time trial expert.

A three-time Czech time trial national champion as well as stage winner in the Tour of Romandie, Tour of Murcia and Tour de l'Ain, Rabon has always relished the race of truth. Coming to mountain biking for the 2014 season, Rabon will highlight numerous high-level marathon and endurance cross country events on his calendar and is anxious to explore the new chapter of his career.

He is one of the latest casualties of the more limited opportunities for pro road racers due to there being fewer top teams for next season and therefore fewers spots for riders on those top teams.

"The situation in road cycling is a disaster, and I did not want to go the route of what was required to get a place on a WorldTour team," Rabon told "From the first contact to signing a contract with Specialized Racing took only one week, quite a pleasant surprise compared to dealing with road teams."

Rabon opted to switch pavement for dirt instead of settling for a "dirt cheap" salary with a WorldTour team or transferring to a lower division team.

When asked about the differences between his former road contracts and his new mountain bike team contract, he told, "It's set up differently. There are more bonuses for results, which is logical because it's more of an individual sport. But I was pleasantly surprised by the offer. If I am successful, I can get almost to the level of money that I had on the road. On the road, I got a higher base salary because I was a domestique, but no bonuses."

"For me, it was a priority to try something new. It's a challenge. I'll have the best technology and from the road, I know I'll have no problem racing six or seven hours at a time."

Rabon will be the third Czech rider, after Jaroslav Kulhavy and Teresa Hurikova, to wear the Specialized Racing team kit next year. Last week, Rabon spent some time training with his new teammate Kulhavy. Next, he will head to Mallorca in early December, then switch his focus to some time in South Africa.

TheStaz More than 1 year ago
Interesting move. Maybe this change is more motivating for a rider than going down a level though, so that could help him hit some of those bonuses. I'm sure the presence of Kulhavy will help him too.. and who knows maybe Rabon can repay the favor and give Kulhavy some tips in case he ever actually switches to the road.
Marsha Bastian More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rabon, Rabon... There was a time when he was amongst top 10 world time trialists, he won Vuelta a Murcia, wore yellow in Tour de Romandie... Don't know what went wrong with this guy, but he should be holding some potential to impress in off-road..
molina More than 1 year ago
"I did not want to go the route of what was required to get a place on a WorldTour team" - what's he on about?
bikejourno More than 1 year ago
Pretty sure Rabon's hinting at the fact that there are way more riders looking for contracts than places on teams this fall/winter, eroding the bargaining position of the riders. Rabon mentions himself: "... instead of settling for a "dirt cheap" salary with a WorldTour team or transferring to a lower division team." It's about feeling appreciated and getting a return for all the trainings and the hard work. I'm curious how Rabon performs in terrain. We'll see next season.
smbakwe1 More than 1 year ago
Always had respect and admiration for him. Safe to say OPQS will miss his workhorse ability. Good luck!
Petr Skořepa More than 1 year ago
It is interesting that people see the "black work" he does for his team... I'm kind of surprised that he could not find any place in some of WT teams. :-)