2020 was a busy year for the bike industry, and it seems that has spilled over into the racing side of the sport as well. The end of the year saw both elite cross country world champions on the move. Jordan Sarrou went to Specialized and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot to Absolute-Absalon – BMC. It also brought the end of numerous long term partnerships. Emily Batty ended her tenure at Trek after 12 years, while Cam Zink, Vali Höll and Adolf Silva all closed out long stays at YT Industries.
Six days into 2021, many of these athletes are still mum on who they’ll be representing this year. Here’s our round-up of what we know, and what we’re still waiting to find out.
Emily Batty’s departure from Trek Factory Racing is likely the biggest news for Canadian racing. With the postponed Olympics looming, the Ontario racer has yet to reveal she’ll land. There are strong indications she will eventually end up with her partner and coach Adam Morka’s as-yet-unnamed team, but whether that happens in 2021 or further in the future is not yet official.
On the gravity side, Graham Agassiz made a late announcement he was leaving the Evil Blue Collars after just two years to join YT. Geoff Gulevitch is also moving on, leaving Focus bikes to join Orbea. Squamish-based sender Rémy Métailler parts with Cube Bikes and Whistler’s Yoann Barelli is off Commencal.
Devinci Bikes and Unior Tools have ended their partnership at Unior Devinci Factory Racing downhill team, though both have indicated they will remain on the World Cup circuit separately this year. That put rising Canadian racer Patrick Laffey on the move, though he’s indicated he’ll be sticking with the Quebec brand on its new team.
Enduro racer Rhys Verner ends a long stay at Kona, which saw him move over from XC to the EWS. Julia Long also has new team news, following her appearance on Pinkbike Academy this summer.
Both world champions are on the move, as mentioned. France’s Jordan Sarrou returns to Specialized after his successful time at Absalout-Absalon. Pauline Ferrand-Prevot will no longer race for Canyon-SRAM, but has yet to reveal where she will end up. [UPDATE: Pauline Ferrand-Prevot has signed to Absolute-Absalon – BMC]
Cannondale Factory Racing adds serious strength to its squad in 2021. World Cup winner Simon Andreassen and South Africa’s Alan Hatherly joined the four-rider roster. World #1 Henrique Avancini and veteran campaigner Manuel Fumic return to the Lefty leaning team.
Specialized isn’t sitting still after the loss of Andreassen and Hatherly, or satisfied with just adding Sarrou. Its XC factory team returns 3x world champion Laura Stigger to the team. It added rising Swiss star Sina Frei, with two elite podiums to her name in 2020, and 2018 World Cup Vallnord winner Gerhard Kerschbaumer.
Isla Short joined Orbea after her successful 2020 season. World Cup veteran Maxime Marotte, Luca Braidot and Greta Seiwald are all moving to the Santa Cruz FSA XC Team.
Downhill and Enduro
There’s a long list of big names switching jerseys in downhill this year (not Sam Hill). Loris Vergier is on Trek Factory Racing after years at Santa Cruz. Danny Hart ended his stay with Madison Saracen, though he’s yet to share where he’s signed. His old team picks up rising elite women’s talent Veronika Widmann, who landed on the podium at this year’s shortened World Cup season.[Update: Danny Hart joins Cube Factory Racing]
Norco adds Scottish EWS rider Lewis Buchanan, upping the B.C.-brands presence in enduro.
Vali Höll ends six years with YT Industries, starting her first real season of elite racing in new colours in 2021 after being injured in practice at the first race of her first elite season in 2020. Cam Zink, Adolf Silva and Angel Suarez are also leaving the German brand, which picked up Aggy in their place.
Remy Thirion closes a long stay at the wildly successful Commencal team. Phil Atwill is off Propain.
Eliot Jackson, who founded Grow Cycling in 2020, moves to Santa Cruz from Giant. He’ll be joined by Veronique Sandler at the California Brand. Juliana brings on Brooklyn Bell as an ambassador for 2021.
It’s been a busy season, and the action isn’t over. We’ll add more as it comes out!