International cross-country stars Adam Craig and Oli Beckingsale will lead Giant's Global Mountain Bike Team in 2009. Veteran Australian downhill racer Jared Rando is also on the team.
Craig, 27, repeated as US National Cross Country Champion last season. He also collected his sixth consecutive National Super D title. Consistent international results earned him a spot on the US Olympic team at the 2008 Summer Games.
"Giant is behind me, and I'm behind them," said Craig. "Any team that has supported me through a six-year Super D national championship streak must be doing something right and I'm looking forward to keeping the fun rolling in 2009." This year, Craig will focus on the international World Cup series plus a handful of North American events such as the Downieville Classic in Downieville, California.
Beckingsale, a three-time Olympian, joins Craig as one of the top talents on the cross-country World Cup circuit. The 32-year-old has won the British National Championship five times (2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007) and is considered one of the world's most consistent cross-country racers over the past decade.
"It's shaping up to be a great year, and the bikes are better than ever," said Beckingsale. "It's a top team in terms of support and also team spirit. I'm looking forward to hitting the World Cup 100 percent and also having a crack at the marathon World Championships in Austria."
Craig and Beckingsale have played integral roles in developing Giant's most advanced cross-country race bikes, including the 2009 Giant Anthem X, which was unveiled last summer at the US National Championships in Mount Snow, Vermont, where he defended his title.
"It's great to be continuing into my seventh year with Giant so I can keep a close eye on all of the awesome new bike projects we have in the works right now," said Craig. "Every year I've ended up testing and racing something better and it's made riding and racing more entertaining."
On the gravity side, Rando plays a key role in product development, too. A veteran of international downhill and dual slalom racing, Rando is Giant's lead athlete for testing long-travel downhill bikes.
Beyond the three-man Giant Global team, Giant will also continue to support its North American squad consisting of cross-country riders Kelli Emmett and Carl Decker, as well as Canadian freeride talent Kurt Sorge and American Jeff Lenosky.
Giant Global Mountain Bike Team
Oli Beckingsale (GBr) (XCO, XCC)
Adam Craig (USA), (XCO, XCC, SuperD)
Jared Rando (Aus), (4X, DHI, DS)
Giant North American Mountain Bike Team
Carl Decker (USA), (XCO, XCC, SuperD)
Kelli Emmett (USA), (XCO, XCC, SuperD)
Giant North American Freeride Team
Kurt Sorge (Can), Freeride
Jeff Lenosky (USA), Freeride, Trials
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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.