If you haven’t heard by now, Mark Weir, the Novato, California downhill and endurance legend, has now ended Team WTB‘s relationship with Santa Cruz Bicycles in favor of their new sponsorship with Cannondale.While unexpected by most, Mark described the amicable move stating, “It was a long process and involved more than just changing frame sponsors. It is a move to be a better ambassador to the sport, which we as a team find most important.”
Mark and the rest of the WTB team (with the exception of Bobby McMullen, who will stay with Santa Cruz by his own accord) will all be aboard Cannondale’s line of 2011 mountain bikes, including the sweet new OverMountain category which contains the completely reworked Cannondale Jekyll.
Check out the entire story, from Weir and WTB’s perspective after the break!
After a great deal of consideration and some heavy soul searching, Mark Weir made the call to change Team WTB’s bicycle frame sponsor from Santa Cruz to Cannondale. “It was a long process and involved more than just changing frame sponsors, Weir said. “It is a move to be a better ambassador to the sport, which we as a team find most important.”
Knowing that you can’t race bikes forever, Weir understands that the clock is always ticking and wants to use what the Team has learned through the years to bring more people to the sport. And, after almost a decade with the same brand, it was becoming increasingly difficult to make that happen even after a year of producing some of his most impressive results. Then, when securing contracts beyond a year became an uncertainty that Weir and the Team couldn’t afford, they felt that looking for new support would be the best solution.
Weir further explained that both sides were ready for a change. “We have done a lot together but it had come to the point that, as riders and racers, the Team needed more of a commitment to continue to grow the sport we love,” Weir said, adding that moving forward with Cannondale is important for that progression. Those included in the move were long-time riding buddy and WTB co-worker, Jason Moeschler, as well as local Novato protégé, Ben Cruz. Bobby McMullen, for reasons of his own, has decided to stay on with Santa Cruz—a decision that Weir and the Team fully supports.
Team WTB is thankful for all the years of support from Santa Cruz Bikes, especially the progress the partnership has facilitated in the all-mountain category. Together, WTB and Santa Cruz were founding sponsors of the Downieville Classic and the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. WTB has also been a long-standing sponsor of the Santa Cruz Syndicate and looks forward to continuing that commitment.
Additional incentives for the Team to make some changes surfaced with the growth of local efforts to make more legal places to ride, like the proposed Novato Bike Park in Marin County, CA, with kids’ programs to follow. Soon, it became clear that the benefits of a new partnership would out way the doubts when together with one of Cannondale’s best dealers, Mike’s Bikes, a powerful team could be made to start change in their own back yard.
“Having a son of my own, it’s important to me that he have access to the opportunities in life that I didn’t,” Weir explained. “Growing up in Marin, I didn’t have many options to ride in the dirt without getting chased by law enforcement or other people who felt mountain bikers were somehow a threat to the community.”
As for the bike, Cannondale has always been an innovative company when it comes to frame design and the new Over Mountain line of bikes is no exception. Having known very little about how the system works, the Team wanted to move forward without sacrificing performance for principle. Cannondale had shipped a frame (Jekyll) so Weir could properly put it to the test.
“Having witnessed the bike go fast enough to win the Mega Avalanche and the over-all Enduro Series in France this past year with one of the best enduro pilots in the world, Jerome Clementz, I knew that they must have done it right,” Weir said. “After my first ride I knew their progressive thinking and long R&D process with Fox Racing Shox made a super capable all-mountain machine.” He added that having the ability to change travel on the fly on a bike that can be built well under 30 lbs. (even with heavy wheels and tires) makes it work really well in all aspects of trail riding.
“It’s bittersweet,” Weir explains about all the changes. “On one hand, we value the time and support we’ve had over the years with Santa Cruz, and on the other we have all the energy and opportunity that comes with a new partnership, and that’s hard not to be excited about.” He added, “The bike brings balance to our lives and moving forward with Cannondale was a choice to not only keep that dream alive for us, but for whoever we can touch along the way.”