End of year team news kicked into high gear on Friday, with several riders and teams parting ways after long term relationships.
The most high profile separation has to be Tahnée and Kaos Seagrave and FMD Racing ending a very successful four year relationship with Washington’s Transition Bikes. Tahnée Seagrave landed her first World Cup win aboard a Transition, and has risen to be one of the main challengers Rachel Atherton’s dominance in women’s downhill racing.
FMD Racing posted an open letter to Transition on the family race teams Instagram page, thanking the brand for its four year relationship. “We seem to be caught between being proud of everything we have accomplished together and the life we will embark on without you,” the letter reads, giving away no hint of where FMD Racing will land in 2020. “You have been in our lives for the past four years – you weren’t just our frame supplier but the sponsor that knew us best – you were family.”
The Seagrave’s won’t be the only high profile riders on new bikes next season. There was a flurry of activity on Friday, after a slow trickle of news throughout December.
Sam Gaze leaves Specialized
Mathieu van der Poel will have a new teammate on Corendon Circus, as New Zealand’s Sam Gaze continues his gradual shift to the road. While there’s been no announcement from the team, WielerFlits.be confirmed the move, and that Gaze has already joined in with Corendon-Circus’ The Kiwi was the first to disrupt Nino Schurter’s year-plus winning streak at the 2018 Stellenbosch World Cup in South Africa. Gaze’s 2019 season was disrupted by a severe concussion, suffered at the 2019 Cape Epic. The move ends Gaze’s five year stint with Specialized, during which he won the under-23 XCO world championships in 2016 and 2017. Gaze’s time will likely be split between an XCO Olympic campaign and supporting van der Poel on the road.
Downhill and enduro moves
While Gaze is leaving the Big Red S, the Morgan Hill, Cali-brand might be picking up a new rider on the gravity side. The team’s Instagram now lists five time world champion Loic Bruni, Canadian Finn Iles and a question mark in its team roster. Rumors are that Camille Blanche’s breakout World Cup season could see her fill the spot left vacant by Miranda Miller when the Squamish rider left downhill for enduro, and Specialized for Kona at the start of 2019. Blanche posted an Instagram story with “her new mechanic,” Kevin Joly, who is also Finn Iles mechanic at Specialized Gravity Racing.
YT announced the full roster of the YT MOB downhill team. After a year-long, worldwide search, Óisin O’Callaghan and Guy Johnston join the team as first-year juniors. Austria’s David Trummer joins returning rider Angel Suarez on the elite squad. Trummer rode into the top-10 overall in the World Cup in 2019, as a privateer.
Jack Moir confirmed Friday that he will be ending a five year ride with Intense Factory Racing. “Shark Attack Jack” struggled with injury in 2019, as did the teams new recruit / owner Aaron Gwin. There’s no word yet where the lanky Australian will end up in 2020.
Unior-Devinci Factory Racing will be looking for someone to fill out its Enduro World Series roster, as Damien Oton is off to a new home after six years with the team. The Quebec-based brand thanked Oton for their time together, during which the French rider finished second overall in the EWS standings twice. While not an enduro racer, Oton’s move could create space for ascendant Canadian junior downhill racer Pattrick Laffey. Laffey’s Vancouver Island team, Gravity MTB, posted that the junior would be “graduating” to full World Cup support in 2020, after a wildly successful 2019 season.
One of the longer relationships in mountain bike racing is coming to a close, as French enduro racer Jerome Clementz parts ways with Cannondale after more than a decade. Clementz confirmed the move Friday, thanking Cannondale for 11 years of support.
In another move for Dorel brands, George Brannigan will no longer ride with GT Factory Racing. In his short two years with the brand most of the 2018 season was spend out with injury. Brannigan returned stronger in 2019, but will be looking for a new home for 2020.
Bruce Klein and the Commencal 100% team will be under different tents at the 2020 World Cup downhill rounds. No word on where the young American racer will land yet.
Finally, Niko Vink and Scott are drifting apart. Scott released a blistering greatest hits good-bye video looking back at the Belgian freerider’s time with the brand. As you would expect, it’s full of heavy metal and huge jumps.