By Jason Sumner , VeloNews Associate Editor
You’ve heard the saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Well here’s a new one: One mountain-biking team’s castoff is another team’s “powerhouse.”At least that’s the way Chris Danforth, manager of the newly formed Yeti-Pearl Izumi team, put it when he announced he’d inked former Subaru-Specialized rider Tara Llanes to a one-year deal.
“I’ve been a big fan of hers for years,” Danforth said. “We started talking at Mammoth [the final NORBA race of 2000]. It just took a while to get it done.”
Slowing the process was the fact that Yeti was searching for a co-title sponsor during much of the off-season.
“It’s just playing the money game,” said Danforth, who announced Yeti’s new partnership with Pearl-Izumi, makers of cycling clothing, at the same time as the signing of Llanes. “We had to make sure we had some other things lined up before we could get something done with Tara.”
For Llanes, getting the deal done ended a long stint of uncertainty that started all the way back in July when Specialized informed her it wouldn’t be bringing back its downhill-dual slalom team in 2001.
“It was definitely a long time,” the 24-year-old Llanes said. “I’d known for a while [Yeti] was interested in me, but I just had to be patient.”
This was the second time Llanes and Yeti had contemplated getting together.
“I was going to ride for them four years ago,” said Llanes, who was second in the overall World Cup dual standings in 2000 and took second at the world championships. “We almost had a deal done and then it just fell through.”
Llanes joins downhiller Nathan Rennie and cross-country riders Frank Mapel and Paul Rowney on the 2001 Yeti-Pearl Izumi squad. “We haven’t been this excited since the days of Missy and Miles,” said Danforth, recalling the early 90s when Missy Giove and Miles Rockwell rode for Yeti.