Written by: Fred Dreier
Canadians Geoff Kabush, Marie-Hélene Prémont and American Lea Davison will highlight the new-for-2009 Maxxis-Rocky Mountain professional mountain bike team. The squad marks a partnership between Maxxis tires and Rocky Mountain bicycles, each of whom supported World Cup-level mountain bike racing programs for much of the last decade.
“Maxxis is excited to partner with a company like Rocky Mountain, a company that is as passionate about racing as we are,” said Christopher Warrick, Maxxis’ cycling manager. “Rocky Mountain Bicycles is a leader in performance and quality in their entire line, allowing the feedback obtained from top riders to continually improve the product.”
The agreement resulted from Rocky Mountain looking to fill the hole left by the expected retirement of Premont, the 2008 UCI World Cup Overall champion and Canadian National champion. In 2007, Prémont announced her plans to retire at the end of the 2008 season. But in late 2008, the Quebecer changed her mind.
A long-term prior working relationship between the management of both teams and both teams’ sponsorship contracts ending after the 2008 season allowed the teams to pursue the partnership.
“Last year Rocky Mountain athletes raced more days in more countries than any other professional mountain bike team, winning all along the way,” said Peter Vallance, team manager of Rocky Mountain bicycles. “This new team takes our racing to yet another level with the new riders, staff and sponsors.”
Prémont returns to the UCI World Cup circuit having won the overall in 2008, an achievement that overshadowed her frustrating DNF at the Beijing Olympics. Prémont will again hone her focus on the UCI world championships and the World Cup events.
Kabush also enters 2009 having enjoyed a banner year. The Canadian took his fourth National Mountain Bike Series cross-country title and finished an impressive fourth in the World Cup standings. His second-place finish at the World Cup in Mont-Ste-Anne and third place at the Andorra World Cup matched the Canadian’s best-ever finishes. Kabush will try to improve on his international results from 2008 this season.
Joining the team is talented American Lea Davison, who was formerly the development cross-country rider on the Trek-Volkswagen team. Davison, who hails from Jericho, Vermont, was the second-highest American finisher at the 2008 UCI world championships, and grabbed a top-10 finish at the World Cup in Bromont, Quebec.
Rounding out the team’s cross-country crew is Raphael Gagne, a former development rider on the Rocky Mountain team. Gagne won the 2008 Canada Cup title.
The new Maxxis-Rocky Mountain team will also boast a full gravity racing squad, headlined by two-time world champion Sabrina Jonnier of France. Rounding out the gravity squad are Kiwi Cameron Cole and American Luke Strobel.
The new team begins its season with a training camp March 20-24 in Bootleg Canyon, Nevada.