The Sho-Air/Cannondale Professional Mountain Bike Team was presented at the team's headquarters and Cannondale flagship store, Sho-Air Cyclery in Orange, California this weekend. The team will face the 2015 campaign with a stacked lineup, welcoming newcomers and bringing a former member back "home".
Canadian National Champion Max Plaxton returns to Team Sho-Air/Cannondale after being on loan to Cannondale Factory Racing during the 2014 season. In addition, up and coming women's athlete Evelyn Dong also joins the team; this is Dong's second full year as a pro rider. Over the past two years, Dong has shown significant growth in the pro ranks to merit considerable attention and a factory ride.
"We've been impressed with Evelyn's rapid advance to the front of the women's races," said Sho-Air owner Scott Tedro. "It was easy for us to name her as our choice to battle it out in the women's events. She has a never-give-up attitude that is inspiring to fans, both men and women alike, and I personally can't wait to see her continue to grow in the sport."
Complimenting these two will be two young professionals who have already achieved national championship status. These athletes include 2013 US Cross Country National Champion and 2014 Short Track National Champion Stephen Ettinger as well as 2014 U23 Cross Country National Champion Keegan Swenson. Together, these riders form a formidable cross country team ready and able to take on a world class cross country calendar.
"This is a powerhouse team," said Tedro. "With all the great things happening in American cross country racing, I'm proud to see this group of racers fly our colors. It's going to be an incredible season and I can't wait for it to get started."
"Mountain biking is growing across the United States," said Dave Manchester, Cannondale's senior vice president of sales and marketing for North America. "We're looking forward to be at the forefront of the sport in America and are excited to be partnering with Sho-Air Cycling Group as US mountain biking expands."
With three HC races and an additional six UCI events between the US Cup and Pro XCT series, as well as the Pan-American Games and two North American World Cup events, the UCI points on offer in North America in 2015 are more than enough to qualify the maximum number of Olympic riders as well as provide premium start positions at the World Cup races and World Championships without ever leaving North America.
Riderbike Alliance program announced
During the team presentation, Sho-Air Cycling Group also announced the creation of the Ridebiker Alliance, which is designed to create sustainable club teams in partnership with bicycle retailers across the United States. In addition, the Ridebiker Alliance will provide an exciting privateer program for six aspiring pros, three men and three women, to be part of a turnkey self-promoting, revenue-generating program.
The six riders selected will join the existing four Ridebiker National Professional Representatives, Tinker Juarez, Alex Grant, Kimber Tedro, and Sam Schultz to form a 10-person Ridebiker Alliance Professional Program. The six riders will be chosen from applications submitted via ridebiker.com. These selected Ridebiker professionals will receive a minimum $2,500 in direct sponsorship, five custom-designed race kits, and special pro discount pricing on equipment from participating Ridebiker Alliance sponsors.
They will also receive free entry to all US Cup events, along with personalized website and social media support from Sho-Air Cycling Group. Full application details, qualifications, and rules will be posted on ridebiker.com on December 1st, with the final selection announcement slated for December 15th.
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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.