Ten former mountain bikers who've switched to the road

Australian Cadel Evans (Predictor Lotto) on his way to fourth overall.

Australian Cadel Evans (Predictor Lotto) on his way to fourth overall. (Image credit: AFP)

While there are obvious differences between singletrack and pavement, some of the best road riders have made the switch and benefited from doing so. Cyclingnews' Sue George takes a look at some of cycling's most famous former mountain bikers and what they've been up to on the road.

Cadel Evans (Aus) Silence-Lotto

The 32-year-old Cadel Evans may be the best-known mountain-biker-turned-road-racer. Evans has drawn plenty of attention in the road world with a second place at the 2007 and 2008 Tours de France. He also won the UCI's ProTour competition in 2007. The Australian is again one of the favorites going into this summer's Tour de France.

In 1995, Evans won bronze in the junior World Championship cross country mountain bike race and also in the junior World Championship time trial. The next year, he finished ninth at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, which hosted the first-ever Olympic mountain bike race. In 1997 and 1999, he finished second at the World Championships in the Under 23 category.

Evans used to race pro as a mountain biker for Volvo-Cannondale. In 1998 and 1999, he won the overall mountain bike World Cup. He was also seventh at the Olympic Games in 2000. He now races on the road for Silence-Lotto, but he's previously been contracted by Saeco, Mapei, Team Telekom and Davitamon-Lotto.
Since moving to the road, Evans has won stages in races such as Paris-Nice, Ruta del Sol, Coppi e Bartali, Tour de Romandie and the Tour of Austria. At the Olympic Games in Beijing last year, he finished fifth in the time trial and 16th in the road race.

Jakob Fuglsang spent three years as a pro mountain biker for Cannondale Vredestein. He started riding with friends at age 12 and in 1998, he competed in his first mountain bike race. By 2002, he'd made the selection for the Danish national team as a first-year junior. After a few years of bad luck at the World Championships, Fuglsang became the Under 23 World Champion in 2007.

In 2008, the Olympic Games did not go as he hoped, and his prospects were starting to look good on the road. Fuglsang started training on the road to help his mountain biking. In 2006, he began a three-year part-time stint with Team Designa Kokken. In 2007, he turned a few heads with a seventh at the Tour of Denmark and a third at the GP Tell. Plus he raced the road World Championships. He's also won stages at the Cape Epic mountain bike race.

In 2008, he won the Tour of Denmark and did two races as a stagiare with Team CSC and Saxo Bank. In total that year, he logged 18 days of road racing and when the offer came from Saxo Bank to become full time with Bjarne Riis' team, Fuglsang said "yes".

"I'm happy to leave (mountain biking) now, but I still have scores to settle. I'd like to be the senior World Champion, but I can't see that happening in the next two years, so it's time to move on. On the road there is a new challenge for me," said Fuglsang in a Cyclingnews' interview at the end of 2008.
So far in 2009, Fuglsang, in his first of a two-year contract, has raced Paris-Nice, Vuelta a Pais Vasco and Volta a Catalunya.

Amber Neben (USA) Equipe Nurnberger

Amber Neben spent two and a half years with the SoBe HeadShok mountain bike team at the turn of the century. Sponsored, but unpaid, the team gave her a first taste of elite cycling. She had found mountain biking in college after playing soccer and running cross country.

In the early years, she paid her own way to NORBA national mountain bike events and she was teammates with racers like Tom Danielson. In 1999, she also finished second at collegiate US mountain bike nationals behind Willow Koerber and just in front of Kelli Emmett – both of whom are racing these days in the elite mountain bike ranks.

In grad school, Neben found road biking. After winning the Cascade Classic and the California state time trial championship in 2001, Neben made a permanent switch to road racing. She represented the US at the worlds in 2001 and 2002.

Neben's road career took off. She was national champion on the road in 2003. She won prestigious races like the Tour de L'Aude in 2005 and 2006. She's also won races like the Tour de Ardeche, and in 2008, she finished second at the women's Giro d'Italia.

Last summer, she was also the World Champion in the time trial. The 34-year-old is racing this season with Equipe Nurnberger Versicherung. Adam Hansen (Aus) Team Columbia-Highroad

These days, Ryder Hesjedal may have his mind on racing the Tour de France, but he used to have his mind on dirtier matters – racing off road. In his early days of mountain bike racing, Hesjedal helped the Canadian team to win relay World Championship titles in Are, Sweden (1999), Vail, Colorado (2001), and Kaprun, Austria (2002). In 2002, he won a World Cup in Les Gets, France, and he was the overall NORBA series short track champion. The next year, he was the overall NORBA cross country champion.

During his mountain bike career, he earned an impressive seven total medals at various World Championships. For example, in 2001, he was second at the World Championships in the under 23 race and he was also second at the 2003 Worlds in Lugano, Switzerland.

In 2005, Hesjedal made the move to the road, turning pro with Discovery Team, after which he also rode for Phonak and Health Net before his current contact with Garmin Slipstream.

The 28-year-old has found his place on the road. In 2007, he was Canadian National Time Trial champion, and this year he's finished the Tour Down Under (11th overall) and Tirreno-Adriatico (8th overall) stages races plus taken 10th on the gravel roads of the Monte Paschi Eroica and 11th at Liege-Bastogne-Leige.

Floyd Landis (USA) OUCH Pro Cycling

Floyd Landis may be one of the best known former mountain bikers. The 33-year-old got his start in the sport of mountain biking when he was growing up in Pennsylvania. He beat countless other juniors on his way to a junior national mountain bike title in 1993, and he was named NORBA pro rookie of the year in 1995. He largely followed the singletrack path until 1999, when he made the full-time switch to the tarmac by turning pro on the road with Mercury.

After Mercury, Landis raced for US Postal and then Phonak, which is where his troubles began. After winning the 2006 Tour de France, Landis tested positive for testosterone in an anti-doping control associated with his remarkable win of that year's stage 17.

Landis' path hasn't been easy. After riding the 2006 Tour in serious pain, he underwent a hip resurfacing surgery in September of 2006 and extensive rehabilitation followed. He was suspended for his doping test result and despite a lengthy legal process, was unsuccessful in his appeal and had to serve his ban.

While banned on the road, Landis returned briefly to the dirt for some mountain bike competition in a few races not sanctioned by the national federation. In 2007, he finished second at the Leadville 100 to Dave Wiens and third in the Shenandoah Mountain 100. When he was again allowed to race again on the road, Landis returned to the pro scene with his current team, OUCH Pro Cycling.

Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Slipstream

The SoBe / Headshok Cannondale team was set up as a grass roots team that could help riders move from regional stars to national champions, and Tom Danielson was of the riders who race for the team in its hay day. Danielson, now 31, raced for SoBe from 1999 to 2001.

He became the US Collegiate National Mountain Bike Champion in 2001 and kept his title for 2002.
In 2003, he won the overall classification of the Tour de Langkawi, and from then on, it's road time. Danielson raced for Discovery, Mercury, Saturn and Fasso Bortolo before his current Garmin-Slipstream Team.

Danielson won the Tour de Georgia in 2005 and the 2006 Tour of Austria. He also won a stage in the 2006 Vuelta a Espana. Michael Rasmussen (Den) Serving a ban until July 25, 2009

Michael Rassmussen

Michael Rasmussen was known as "The Chicken" before he became known as the man pulled out of the Tour de France by Team Rabobank in 2007 while he was wearing the yellow leader's jersey. The team had some tough questions about Rasmussen's whereabouts and ended up terminating his contact mid-Grand Tour.

The 35-year-old became a household name among mountain bikers in 1999 when he won the World Championship cross country title. Skinny back then, too, he was also a talented climber.
During his off road career, Rasmussen rode for Scott International, Gary Fisher, Haro Lee, Dungarees and CSC-Tiscali.

After his World Championship in mountain biking, Rasmussen got a break on the road by racing as a stagiare for Team CSC-Tiscali. Between 2005 and 2006, he won four Tour de France stages, and he won the mountains classification, too, both of those years.
Rasmussen won't be back in time for this year's Tour de France, but that doesn't mean he won't be back in the pro road peloton soon after.

Know any other mountain bikers who made the switch to the road? Discuss the Cyclingnews' selection and share yours on our forum at forum.cyclingnews.com.


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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.