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Barel leaves Kona

After five years, two World Championships and several World Cup victories, Frenchman Fabien Barel is leaving Team Kona.

"It has been a pleasure to be a part of the downhill racing team and to help that image grow. I wish everyone were as fortunate to work as closely together as we have," said Barel according to Kona's website www.konaworld.com. I have worked with Kona longer than any other brand and the Kona groove will keep spreading for me, whatever I do. I intensely thank Kona for the support and for accepting me as part of their family."

Kona's Jacob Heilbron had nothing but kind words for the departing rider. "When you see Fabien race in a World Cup event, you see a rider who's completely in tune with himself, his bike and the terrain. It is a standard of riding that very few cyclists achieve in their career."

In honor of Barel's career at Kona, the bike manufacturer is developing the Special Edition Fabien Barel signature Stab Supreme. 178 of the bikes, complete with world champion stripes and Fabien Barel's name on the top tube, will be made.

Barel has not yet announced his plans for the future.

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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.