Jeremiah Bishop, the reigning marathon and short-track cross-country national champion, is suiting up in the green and purple kit of Monavie-Cannondale.com for the 2009 season. Bishop, 32, found a home with the Utah-based team after spending four seasons as the marquis World Cup rider on the now-defunct Trek-Volkswagen program.
“I feel honored to have this kind of support — it puts a lot of wind back in my sails,” said Bishop, who admitted several plans fell through once the Trek-Volkswagen team ended. “It was one of the more trying moments in my life. We had a baby coming when the team dissolved and I was pretty stressed.”
Bishop and his wife, Erin, welcomed their first child, Conrad, in February.
Bishop isn’t the only newcomer joining Monavie-Cannondale, which fronts the tagline “Epic Racing around the World.” The team is the only American-based pro mountain bike racing team to hold the world’s multi-day endurance stage races, or “Epic” races, as its primary objectives.
German rider Ben Sonntag also joins the roster that includes development riders Alex Grant, Mitchell Peterson and Brian Alders, cyclocross rider Sue Butler, managers/riders Bart Gillespie and Matt Ohran, and mountain biking legend Tinker Juarez. Sonntag is a two-time world champion in winter triathlon, and owns two collegiate mountain bike championships for Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.
Another newcomer is Bissell road pro Burke Swindlehurst, who will compete in select off-road events for the Monavie-Cannondale squad.
“We saw Bishop as a prime candidate to help us win epic races, and Ben is a talent who Jeremiah can work with and mentor,” said Ohran. “We started the team two years ago as a fun project, and each year we’ve been able to build on it. This really takes us to the next level.”
Monavie-Cannondale is sponsored by a Salt Lake City-based Açai berry antioxidant drink.
Sonntag and Juarez are both racing in next week’s Absa Cape Epic in South Africa. The team will also participate in North American stage races, such as the BC Bike Race, Breck Epic, Intermontane Challenge and American Mountain Classic, which Bishop won in 2008. The squad will also hit select stops of the USA Cycling Pro cross-country tour, including the Fontana National, Sea Otter Classic and Carmichael Training Systems Sand Creek International.
Bishop will also lead the team at November’s La Ruta de los Conquistadores in Costa Rica. Bishop last raced that event in 2006, when he crashed out on the second stage and badly fractured his jaw.
“I couldn’t be happier with my schedule,” Bishop said. “Endurance racing isn’t the retiree sport that it used to be. The international competition is very intense.”
Plaxton to Sho Air-Specialized
Canadian rider Max Plaxton is the most recent mountain biker to join the SoCal-based Sho Air-Specialized team. Plaxton, who earned U23 bronze at the 2006 UCI world championships, recently inked a deal to ride the U.S. Cup and two Canadian World Cup rounds with Sho Air-Specialized.
Plaxton joins Australian Sid Taberlay, American Sam Jurecovic and Costa Rican rider Manny Prado on the squad.
“I had a long conversation with Max, and I liked the feedback I got from Sid and Sam,” said Scott Tedro, owner of the Sho Air-Specialized team. “He’s a phenomenal talent and has the potential to be an Olympic-level rider.”
Plaxton had raced with the Canadian Rocky Mountain Bicycles team through 2008.
Plaxton could not be reached for comment, as he was traveling to Santiago, Chile, to compete in the UCI Continental Championships on March 21.