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Expanding Giant: Camp Notes

There will be two official team kits this year for both Giant’s XC and gravity riders. For race day, a kit similar to last year (which wasn’t ready for the camp) will be used, and for practice/training days a Fox Clothing kit will be available to riders.
The gravity riders were obviously happy about this addition, but Adam Craig was also looking forward to having something official to wear for less formal riding situations. Kelli Emmett will still be breaking hearts in the light-blue version of the race kits, and while there were a few jokes about a women’s version of the Giant-Fox training clothing (something about pink skirts…), it sounds like the non-raceday garb will be unisex.
Both Craig and Carl Decker will continue to custom-cut their tires, dialing them in for varying courses and conditions. Using an assortment of side-cutters and end-cutters, the riders both mentioned that this is often also a great way to pack a little lighter for races where they don’t have the option to bring a quiver of tire styles.
“[Cutting tires]gives me something to do while I’m sitting in a European hotel room watching EuroSport,” Craig said.
Decker elaborated on the advantages of cutting tires, comparing the added traction to that of his freshly-shaven head. Amongst other things, he mentioned that he cuts off all the little “feelers” on new tires, as they both add weight and reduce traction.
“It’s like the day after you’ve shaved your head, and have a hard time getting a t-shirt off because of how all the stubble grabs it,” Decker told us. (Well, you may not understand, but I know exactly what he’s talking about.)
According to Craig, the upcoming release of Michelin’s new mountain bike tire lineup was influenced by this duo’s tire R&D.
Craig, meanwhile, will continue to run an MRP chainguide with one ring on his Anthem X Advanced SL in lieu of a front shifter and multiple chainrings. Motivated by a combination of better chainline and sheer simplicity, Craig also said it saves about 300-grams over a traditional set-up, allowing his bike to weigh in at approximately 23.2lbs (depending on tire choice). Craig added that he’s pumped on the Anthem X Advanced SL, so much so that he won’t even have a hardtail in the race quiver this year.

Going against the recent trend of tightening up racing team budgets, Giant announced that they’ll not only add riders to their 2010 factory team roster, but also become a title sponsor to the European-based Rabobank-Giant Mountain Bike team.

U.S. Olympian Adam Craig will slide from Giant’s Factory Team over to Rabobank-Giant, joining Switzerland’s Fabian Giger, the Netherlands’ Henk Jaap Moorlag, and Sweden’s Emil Lindren.

“I’m stoked about the European set-up,” Craig said. “It’ll take away that last 2 percent of stress that other European World Cup racers don’t have to deal with when traveling and racing over there. Not that 2 percent sounds like much, but every bit helps.”

Craig added that he feels honored to be a part of the new program, which will start a little later than planned due to a knee injury.  One variation in Craig’s kit and bike from his European teammates will be the Vredestein logo and tires replaced with Michelin.  (See tech sidebar on Craig and Carl Decker’s involvement with Michelin tire R&D.)

New Giants

New additions to the Giant Factory Off-Road team are 18-year-old British downhiller Danny Hart, and two-time U.S. Downhill National Champion Duncan Riffle, 23.

Though Hart’s primary language is English, we still needed a translator to understand just about anything his thick, Surrey accent hid (though Surrey County isn’t particularly known for thick accents, think Brad Pitt in Snatch), but seeing him on a bike at the training camp didn’t need any translation at all.

If his smoothness and confidence equates to speed, this teenager will be a new World Cup DH contender for sure.  I only wish we could quote him, I’m sure he told us something interesting at some point.

Riffle, on the other hand, was much easier to understand.  Coming from his own team last season, and having to wear the assortment of hats that comes with both running and racing for said team, he’s looking forward to simply concentrating on racing this season.  He’ll be looking forward to another shot at a US National Championship title, but primary focus for Riffle is on the World Cup DH series in 2010.

Veteran gravity racer Jared Rando has signed on for his eighth straight year with the Giant team, and will concentrate primarily on American DH and 4X, but has some Super D-style racing on his radar this season as well.  In addition to racing, Rando will also continue to play a key roll in Giant’s product development.

While Jared Rando has technically been racing some prototype variation of the 2010 Glory since the latter part of 2008, the entire team will be riding the production version this year. The only exception will be Shimano’s PRO handlebars, stem and seatpost.
We were able to weigh Duncan Riffle’s size Large Glory while the mechanics weren’t looking, and it was 40lbs on the nose, which is about 7lbs lighter than a stock 2009 Glory.
Riffle will be running half-inch handlebar extensions on his Glory, adding an extra inch-to-gross width. Otherwise, his bike is unmodified, short of suspension of course.
“I’m meticulous about my suspension, and we’ve already had two camps this season to dial in the valving,” Riffle said. “Once we find the correct set-up, though, I’ll keep it that way for the remainder of the season.”
Trance X was a common denominator throughout each rider’s quiver regardless of cross-country or gravity focus, as everyone we talked to said that it was the bike they jumped on when it was time for a mountain bike ride, sans a start line. There will also be Trance X’s for Super D events, and down-sized versions for gated gravity events.

Former Giant Global Mountain Bike Team rider Oscar Saiz, who retired from the World Cup DH circuit last year, will remain on the Giant program in 2010 as a coach and technical go-to guy.

“With the addition of two younger World Cup racers to the team, we wanted someone who not only could be a great coach and mentor, but also someone who’s familiar with the World Cup courses, venues, and the subsequent bike set-ups. I can’t think of a better person for that than Oscar,” said Andrew Juskaitis, Giant’s global marketing manager.

Returning to the Giant cross-country team this year are former U.S. National Champions Carl Decker and Kelli Emmett, who will both focus on North American XC and Super D racing, and three-time Olympian Oli Beckingsale, who will focus on European World Cup XC and marathon events.

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