SRAM and Troy Lee Designs announced on Friday the formation of their own mountain-bike team for the 2014 season. The Chicago-based bicycle component manufacturer has had a longstanding tradition of supporting racing, from grass-roots contests through the World Cup level, and currently provides product sponsorship and technical assistance to 27 teams and 100 professional athletes around the globe. Now, the company will also fly its own colors in local, national and World Cup competition.
“For years we’d been talking about starting our own in-house team but extra resources and athlete opportunities never seemed to coincide,” says John Dawson, SRAM Mountain Bike Sports marketing manager. “Then it all just came together at Fort William last season, hanging in the pit with longtime friend Craig Glaspell from Troy Lee Designs. We got all fired up on caffeine and started brainstorming the idea of creating a program that was free from outside influence. The foundation being each athlete would have total freedom to race any frame they felt was the fastest and we would take care of the rest. Now that it’s a reality, I can’t be more stoked to announce the coolest team on the mountain bike race scene—SRAM / Troy Lee Designs Racing.”
The all-American squad currently consists of downhillers Walker and Luca Shaw, and cross-country racer Russell Finsterwald. Hendersonville, North Carolina-based Walker Shaw was the 2013 U.S. Junior National Downhill Champion. As a first-year pro, Walker will campaign a carefully selected schedule that will include national and World Cup downhill events and enduros. Younger brother Luca starts the 2014 UCI Junior World Cup Downhill series ranked 3rd. Russell Finsterwald, from Colorado Spring, Colorado, was the 2012 U23 U.S. National XC Champion and is a former U23 Pan Am Champion. Finsterwald will concentrate on a national and UCI World Cup cross-country schedule.
Beyond being the program’s co-sponsor and clothing and design partner, Troy Lee Designs’ rich racing heritage and dedication to athlete development played a key role in SRAM’s decision to create the new team. Its TLD / Lucas Oil / Honda Supercross team, in fact, provided a model on which to pattern the program.
“Ever since I heard the idea of a global SRAM development team from John Dawson, I knew we had to be involved,” says Craig ‘Stikman’ Glaspell, Troy Lee Designs Global Bicycle marketing manager. “Our brand is seeing a lot of growth in mountain-bike riding currently, but as most people know, our roots lie heavily in racing. When it came around to becoming a reality, Troy was adamant about being involved and doing whatever it takes to be a design partner for the team. Troy knows what it takes to be a team owner, as TLD is the only protection and apparel company to have an in-house Supercross team, so he embraces SRAM’s dedication to racing and product development from his own experiences.”
At all events, SRAM | TLD Racing’s athletes will operate out of the SRAM tech area. Race reports and athlete information can be found at sram.com.