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NoTubes announced as newest American elite women's team

The US is getting a new elite women's team for 2011. The NoTubes team has been created to support female racers as well as to continue advocating women's participation in mountain biking.

In its inaugural year, the team consists of four elite women: Nina Baum of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Zephanie Blasi of Tucson, Arizona; Shannon Gibson of Durango, Colorado; and and Kathy Sherwin of Heber City, Utah. Between them, the riders boast collegiate, state and national championship titles in several disciplines.

In addition to participating in races across the country, members of the NoTubes Women's Elite Team will mentor young riders through "Get Out!" programs and other initiatives targeted at increasing awareness to the issues associated with women in cycling.

"It remains a priority to us at NoTubes to do everything possible to increase the prevalence of women in this sport," said Cindy Koziatek, co-owner of NoTubes.

"By creating this team we're not only providing opportunities for some very talented women to race nationwide, but we hope they will continue to act as ambassadors for women's involvement in mountain biking."

Sherwin can boast 60 pro career wins since she started racing at age 27. She turned pro in 2004, when she quit her full time job to give mountain biking and training her undivided attention. Since then, she has raced all across the country and world to include mountain bike World Cups in Scotland, Belgium and Germany. Over the years as she fell in love with racing and became a consistent top 10 finisher on the national circuit, she also discovered her passion for Cyclocross.

2010 was her comeback season after losing both parents in 2009. By the end of the 2010 mountain bike season, Sherwin had started to feel like herself again and had her best season to date in cyclo- cross, coming in fourth at the US Cyclo-cross Nationals in Bend, Oregon.

This season, Sherwin will race North American World Cups and regional mountain bike races plus she will compete in cyclo-cross full time in the hopes of making the US Worlds team.

Baum is a five-time New Mexican state champion and was the 2004 Collegiate Mountain Bike national champion in cross country and short track. She has enjoyed several top-10 rankings in the US National Mountain Bike series over the last five years.

Gibson's first career was as a professional ballet dancer. After seven years of retirement in her 30s without any exercise, she found mountain biking. She is a three-time New Mexico State Champion and has raced on the national circuit. She regularly achives top 20 finishes in the elite 'cross fields and has raced the USGP Series, North American Cyclo-cross Trophy races and both Masters and Elite National Championships.

Also racing mountain bikes for the team, Blasi is from Missoula, Montana, but currently lives in Tucson.

The team will make its debut at the 24 Hours In The Old Pueblo. They'll also race the Pro XCT series, Mountain States series, Whiskey 50 and North American World Cup events.

Team sponsors include Orbea, Sixty-five.12, Schwalbe, Ergon, Smith Optics, Rotor, Genuine Innovations, SRAM, Crank Brothers and Verge Sport.

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