Source: Giant Bicycles
Giant is boosting its commitment to off-road racing with the additions of South African downhiller Andrew Neethling and five-time British cross-country champion Liam Killeen to the Giant Factory Off-Road Team. Neethling and Killeen join a diverse squad that includes rising 19-year-old World Cup downhill star, Danny Hart of Great Britain.
"Our commitment to off-road racing at the highest level is a reflection of our broader commitment to the off-road cyclist," said Giant Global Marketing Director An Le. "Working closely with this diverse group of athletes—from Olympic XC racers to Super D champions to top World Cup downhillers—keeps us ahead of the pack in developing new technologies that benefit off-road riders at all levels."
The downhill team will be led by Hart, who emerged last year as the world's top young DH talent—and the only top-10 rider under the age of 20. After winning the 2009 Junior World Cup title, Hart made a successful transition to the elites in 2010, racing his Giant Glory to eighth overall in the World Cup series and eighth at the World Championships.
"I am super happy to be a part of the Giant program for the foreseeable future," Hart said. "I had a great 2010 season, and this year is going to be better. I just want to go racing.”
Neethling, a consistent top-10 World Cup finisher and winner of the 2010 U.S. Open, joins Hart and two-time U.S. downhill champion Duncan Riffle to give Giant a powerful punch in the downhill discipline.
"Giant has always had a great racing heritage and I look forward to being part of it," Neethling said. "I've always looked up to the team and felt they had superb bikes. I know I will have the bikes, support and environment to reach all my racing goals."
The XC division of the team sees the return of veteran Carl Decker, whose successful 2010 season on the Anthem X 29er included wins at several major U.S. events, including the All-Mountain World Championships in Downieville, California, and the Super D at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California.
Also returning this year is diverse all-around talent Kelli Emmett, defending champion of the Downieville All-Mountain Worlds. Emmett has won races ranging from short-track and Super D national titles to Single-Speed World Championships and will continue to focus on a wide range of endurance events.
New to the XC team is British national champion Killeen, a two-time Olympian who is aiming for his third Summer Games at London 2012.
"It's easy to see that Giant is committed to cross country competition, and being on the right bike really can make the difference between victory and defeat when racing at the top of the sport," Killeen said. "I'm confident I've made the right choice in Giant with products that can give me the edge."
2011 Giant Factory Off-Road Team
Carl Decker (USA), XC, ST, Super D
Kelli Emmett (USA), XC, ST, Super D
Danny Hart (Great Britain), 4X, DH, DS
Liam Killeen (Great Britain), XC, ST, Marathon
Andrew Neethling (South Africa), 4X, DH, DS
Duncan Riffle (USA), 4X, DH, DS