Losing his spot on the Norco Factory Cycling team last fall was not an easy experience for Evan McNeely. Originally from Kingston, Ont., McNeely has been racing cross country since his youth, and started his international career by notching an eighth place as a junior at the 2010 mountain bike world championships, in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Que.
Following last fall’s news, McNeely teamed up with Andrew L’Esperance, who also did not make the Norco roster for 2017. The two will continue on as teammates and as team managers in a new venture. They’ve quickly learned there’s a lot more to racing than what happens between start and finish lines, and during the training schedule. Undaunted, McNeely is working hard to help bring their dream to life.
“I’ve just focused on each of the small little things needed to make this happen, rather than getting overwhelmed by big-picture stuff,” said McNeely, who finished second to L’Esperance in the 2016 Canada Cup series.
“When you’re an athlete with a staff, you’re shielded from a lot of the grunt work that goes on behind the scenes, from sponsorship talks, or logistics. At some level, you don’t appreciate what those people did until you have to do it all yourself.”
McNeely has been learning a lot through the development of his own company, Sneaky Socks, and has brought that knowledge to bear on the new team with L’Esperance.
”Andrew and I have worked really well together on this project,” McNeely said. “I don’t think there is anybody else I would have rather been put in this situation with. We are both really happy with what we have created and are are very thankful for the support we have received.”
Through deep personal connections, the teammates have built a strong level of support that will allow them to pursue their goals in 2017.
“Some of the best experiences of my life have stemmed from the mountain bike community over the past several years,” McNeely said. “I’ve made countless, lifelong friends and unforgettable memories during my time with the national team and Norco Factory Team. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.”