The Australian Merida Flight Centre Mountain bike team has been working toward a successful 2011 season, especially on the domestic circuit, but also with some riders to be racing overseas.
The team has been participating in the Australian Mountain Bike National Series. It will also be racing Australian mountain bike nationals later this month, the Flight Centre Epic, the Merida 24-Hour and the Alice Springs Mountain Bike Enduro - among other cross country and enduro events.
Jason English may be the best known member of the team. The multiple time 24-hour solo world champion also won the Alice Springs Red Centre Enduro in 2010. He's joined on the squad by world mountain bike orienteering champion and Otway Odyssey winner Adrian Jackson and under 23 cross country champion Ryan Standish.
The women are represented by Jodi Willet, who won the Alice Springs Red Centre Enduro and the Flight Centre Epic. She wore Australian colors at the Worlds and was also named the Queensland Road Cyclist of the Year. South Australian State Champion Terri Rhodes is another woman on the team. She has previously won the under 23 national series and made the podium at cross country nationals.
In 2011, the team is riding the Merida O.Nine Team hardtail (the bike on which Multivan team member Jose Hermida won the 2010 cross country world championships). Riders will also use the dual suspension Merida Nintey Six Carbon Team.
On the management side, John Pyper is taking over. He brings domestic and international coaching and riding experience. Based in Alice Springs, he has a large junior development mountain bike squad and has a background in track and road cycling and mountain biking. He has coached the Australian road national team and the national under 23 mountain bike team as well as the Thai national road team. He takes over the role of manager from Sean Chung.