The Giant Factory Off-Road Racing Team presented its 2010 line-up at Camp Woodward West in Tehachapi, California, on Monday night. In keeping with its longstanding approach of starting to support young riders early in their careers and then sticking with them for years, a mix of the team's newer younger and established older riders was introduced to the media.
Despite the tolls of the recession on the bike industry, Giant is backing a larger team in 2010 than it did in 2009. "We've had a tough year as well, but we're staying committed to racing and development," said Giant's Global Product Marketing Manager Andrew Juskaitis. "We've only added riders."
The United Kingdom's downhiller Danny Hart and two-time US national downhill champion Duncan Riffle are the team's new, young talent. Longstanding Giant Factory team riders Kelli Emmett, Carl Decker, Jared Rando and Oliver Beckingsale return for another year of racing in blue and white.
"It's Giant's tradition to hire young riders. We've never been in the business of hiring flash-in-the-pan talent," said Juskaitis.
Hart and Riffle will both focus on World Cup level gravity racing. Both will enjoy the support needed to compete against the more established riders on the international circuit.
"Riding Giant bikes has always been a dream of mine. So has riding at Camp Woodward," said Hart, excited at the opportunity he has with his new team. Hart spent the day zipping around the facility's indoor bike park, buzzing up and down steep ramps and pulling tricks.
Rando will continue to bring the voice of experience to the downhill portion of the team. The downhill and four cross racer splits his time between racing in the US and his native Australia. He's played an important role in the development of the team's Glory bike line-up, a downhill-specific race bike.
The cross country tradition continues
The squad's sole female rider, Emmett, who spent some time while at the team camp honing her high speed reaction skills by riding a motorcycle, will focus on US domestic cross country and short track as usual, but she is planning on more Super D racing for 2010 and will try to make the US National Team for the World Championships.
"The Ashland, Oregon, Super D will be a new event for me this year. I'm pumped," said Emmett of her race agenda.
Decker, who's been with the team for eight years will concentrate on his usual mix of cross country, short track and Super D in the US. "He'd probably race downhill, too, if we'd let him," joked Juskaitis at the presentation, "but we want to keep him in one piece."
"Adam, Jared and I were three of five athletes who were on the original Giant Pearl Izumi team eight years ago," said Decker. Dustin Adams and Tara Llanes were the other two. "This team treats us well so it's hard to leave, and everyone gets along well."
Decker, who would like to make the US team for the World Championships, will race the US Pro XCT, and he'll kick off his season this weekend at the opening Triple Crown round in Bonelli Park. "That first race is going to hurt. I'm on only on my 12th cross country ride of the season," said Decker, who will also race some Oregon Super Ds, Downieville and hope to keep his good form for the US Cyclo-cross Nationals, which return to his hometown of Bend again in December of 2010.
Decker likened the team "a big family". "We have a unique situation in that our downhillers are a bit cross country and our cross country riders are a bit downhill and we all meet in the middle - sometimes doing Super D together."
"Our downhillers are fit and watch what they eat and they don't go out on benders all the time, and the cross country guys drink beer - not to excess during the season, of course - and ride motorcycles. There is a lot of mutual respect and it's fun," said Decker.
Beckingsale, who is based in the United Kingdom, will represent the team in Britain and on the continent for national and international events.
What about Adam?
Notably absent from the Giant Factory Off-Road Racing Team was Adam Craig, but it wasn't because Giant ditched him. Instead, Craig is part of the separate Rabobank-Giant Offroad Racing Team, based in Europe. Introduced separately, Craig will race for the new Rabobank-backed team as he competes internationally on the World Cup and World Championship circuit, enjoying a higher level of support overseas than he's previously experienced.
Craig tore his ACL in February and underwent surgery to repair it. His injury will keep him out of competition for several months, though Craig was trying to look at the bright side.
"According to Willow Koerber, the timing of my ACL injury is perfect," said Craig to Cyclingnews. "Hers was in December and she had great form in June. Mine was in February, so I expect to be flying in August." That will be just in time for the US-based World Cup in Windham, New York, and the World Championships in Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec, Canada.
The team is in the midst of spending 14 days based out of Camp Woodward. It's the second year the squad had held its training camp and presentation in this part of California.
Stay tuned to Cyclingnews for more coverage from the Team Giant Camp.
2010 Giant Factory Off-Road Team
Oli Beckingsale (Great Britain) (cross country, short track)
Carl Decker (USA) (cross country, short track, super D)
Kelli Emmett (USA) (cross country, short track, super D)
Danny Hart (Great Britain) (four cross, downhill, dual slalom)
Jared Rando (Australia) (four cross, downhill, dual slalom)
Duncan Riffle (USA) (four cross, downhill, dual slalom)
Kurt Sorge (Canada) (freeride)
2010 Rabobank-Giant Off-Road Team
Adam Craig (USA) (cross country, short track)
Fabian Giger (Switzerland) (cross country)
Henk Jaap Moorlag (The Netherlands) (cross country)
Emil Lindren (Sweden) (cross country)
Bart Aernouts (Belgium) (cyclo-cross)
Gerben de Knegt (Netherlands) (cyclo-cross)
Jelmer Jubbega (Netherlands) (cross country)
Erik Groen (Netherlands) (cross country)
Tim Lemmers (Netherlands) (cross country)
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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.