Evan McNeely and Andrew L’Esperance have joined forces to launch Forward Racing–Norco for the 2017 mountain bike season. The two have been friends and teammates for many years, racing for Norco Factory Racing. When the pair found out they would not be riding as part of the team for 2017, it was only natural to launch their own privateer team.
Norco Bicycles continues to support the racers by providing equipment and aiding in developing other industry partnerships, including with SRAM and Kenda. Norco will also be offering event support for select races, easing the logistical planning for McNeely and L’Esperance, allowing the team to continue working with the familiar faces of the Norco Factory Racing team.
“It takes a big strain away from having to get together all the equipment we need to race,” said McNeely, of the support offered by Norco. “Even though Norco told us we would not be racing for them, they also gave us a really big jump on what we needed to make this season work.”
“We are very excited to be working with Norco Bicycles. We have a strong history with the brand and are thrilled to be on the Revolver again this season.” said L’Esperance. Both riders were involved in the development of the Norco Revolver FS and know the bike’s capabilities very well.
L’Esperance and McNeely have been working hard in their local communities of Halifax and Kingston, Ont., to find partners ready to work with the team for the 2017 season. Four key financial partners include McNeely Engineering, Pro Source Bookkeeping, Group ATN Consulting Inc., and Custom Clean Atlantic.
L’Esperance and McNeely will be pinning their race efforts on selected World Cup and North American races. Highlights include five World Cup events – Nové Město, Albstadt, Lenzerheide, Vallnord, and Mont-Sainte-Anne. Canadian national championships are also on the calendar. The team will make their race debut at the Bear Mountain Canada Cup on March 4.
Also on the roster for 2017 is Sean Fincham. Racing as under-23 for the first time, Fincham will focus more time on North American races, but has performed well at worlds, finishing eighth as a junior.
“I am very excited to race my bike this year because of all the new opportunities,” said Fincham. “I look forward to proving myself as a first year under-23.”
Forward Racing will offer Fincham equipment support for the 2017 season along with guidance to help successfully navigate the transition from junior to under-23.
Like most cyclists, McNeely and L’Esperance are fond of coffee, and have developed a custom blend in conjunction with Java Blend. The Start Line Blend is a mix of Ethiopian and Brazilian coffees, and is described as a medium “plus” roast. A portion of sales will go to support the team. The first 30 orders will be delivered along with a Forward Racing water bottle.