The Specialized Racing Team has added two cross country World Cup level mountain bikers, Jaroslav Kulhavy and Ren Chengyuan, to its roster for 2011. The team is hoping to build on its success from 2010, during which its riders earned two World Championships, multiple National Championships and podiums in numerous marquis events around the world.
Four returning cross country riders are aiming to see lots of podium time again this year. Swiss two-time world champion Christoph Sauser will focus on cross country for the first few events, with an eye toward a potential jump over to marathon racing if he feels his skills would be better served in that realm.
Todd Wells will be hunting some World Cup victories this year and perhaps even repeat his stunning "triple crown" from last year, when he won US national titles in cross country, short track and cyclo-cross, while also getting on the podium in some World Cup races.
Sauser and Wells will again be joined by 23-year-old upstart Burry Stander, from South Africa, fresh off his bronze medal at last year's Worlds.
The sensational young star Lene Byberg of Norway returns as well, hoping to overcome last year's illness-plagued season and get back to her 2009 form when she won her first World Cup race, and placed second at Worlds and in World Cup Overall rankings.
Sauser and Stander have already gotten the 2011 season off to a good start with a joint team victory in the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, which wrapped up this weekend.
The group will see some tough new competition from within, as last year's breakout star Kulhavy from Czech Republic, and rising Chinese talent Chengyuan have joined the team. Kulhavy was the silver medalist at 2010 Worlds, while winning the Windham event and taking third in World Cup overall rankings. Chengyuan is only 24 and has twice won the Under 23 world championships. Both riders enjoyed these results as locally-sponsored Specialized riders, but join the Factory team for the first time in 2011.
American Rebecca Rush will continue to participate in endurance races for the team while her compatriot Lea Davison has also signed with the team and is already underway racing domestically.
The men will choose from three different weapons in 2011: S-Works Epic 26er or 29er bikes and S-Works Stumpjumper HT 29er bike while the women will ride the S-Works Era.
The Monster Energy Specialized downhill squad will look to repeat its results at last year's world championships where legend-in-the-making Sam Hill came back from an injury-fraught season to crush the muddy course at Mont Sainte Anne, Quebec, Canada, for the his third senior Worlds title, and 16-year-old Troy Brosnan stunned the competition for the junior title.
The Aussie duo will look to repeat at Worlds and nail some World Cup victories this year. Brendan Fairclough is also returning and hoping to give Hill a serious run for his money - the Brit is gunning for his first World Cup victory and maybe more.
The downhill team will again ride the Demo 8 and SX Trail rigs.