By Vernon Felton
Photos by Jake Orness
Giant is optimistic about its chances of nabbing titles in cross-country, enduro and DH this year…and with good reason–the team is loaded with a former world champion, U.S. Olympian and several national champions.
Danny Hart returns to lead the DH Squad. The 21-year old gravity racer’s 2012 season was cut short by an injury, but he was cooking before he ate shit and separated his shoulder. Hart had scored three podium finishes and was fourth overall in the 2012 World Cup when the injury forced him to sit out the last two World Cups and the World Championships.
South Africa’s Andrew Neethling returns to the Giant roster in 2013 after a strong 2012 season in which he finished in 12th-place overall. Giant is adding 22-year-old Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas, a four-time elite national champion from Colombia who finished 10th at last year’s worlds in Austria.
On the enduro/XC side, longtime Giant rider Adam Craig is making the jump from the Rabobank-Giant team (now the Giant Pro XC Team), which focuses on World Cup XC racing, to the Giant Factory Off-Road Team. Craig, who won the 2012 U.S. Super D title on his Trance X 29er, will be putting more focus on enduro racing in 2013.
Craig will be joined by Carl Decker, the three-time defending champion of the Downieville All-Mountain World Championship, as well as Kelli Emmett, the current U.S. women’s Super D national champion. Giant also added Australian Josh Carlson, a breakout talent on the enduro-racing scene last year, rounds out the enduro/XC arm of the 2013 team.
What will the racers ride in 2013?
For World Cup downhill and gravity events, riders will compete with the Giant Glory and Reign X. Enduro and cross-country riders will start the season on Anthem X Advanced 29er and Trance X 29er bikes, as well as XtC Advanced SL 29er hardtails.