With new bike brands being formed, riders becoming team managers and a non-stop drip-feed of gossip and news, the 2018/2019 offseason felt like a rollercoaster of drama. For the silly season scholar, it meant a new discovery every day and a near-total shake up of the downhill World Cup pits.
So far, this year's off-season has been so quiet you can practically see the tumbleweeds. Well, cat, meet pigeons. We've tapped up sources and spoken to riders to try and get a clearer picture of what might be happening this year. Below are rumours, and only rumours, of some rider movements for 2020. These include Jack Moir leaving Intense, Damien Oton leaving Devinci, Adrien Dailly joining Specialized and something happening with Tahnee Seagrave, Canyon and FMD Racing.
Most of the below rumours are unconfirmed but isn't it fun to speculate?
Rumour: Jack Moir to leave Intense Status: likely
When Dean Lucas and Charlie Harrison moved away from the Intense fold, Jack Moir still had a year left on his contract so stuck with the Californian brand for the 2019 season. It proved to be a frustrating year for Jack and included yet another collarbone break that meant he couldn’t really get up to speed until part-way through the season.
Jack has been on the Intense team since 2015 but we’ve heard he may now be looking to move on to pastures new. Moir, Harrison and Lucas were a tight-knit crew and we wouldn’t be surprised to see Jack joining one of his old teammates in their new setups but we have no official or unofficial news on that front.
Jack told us he couldn't say anything yet and the IFR team would only say that team announcements will be made in January, we'll wait for more news soon.
Rumour: Adrien Dailly to Specialized Status: possible
This is one Wyn might have let slip while doing his interview rounds after the EWS finale in Zermatt earlier this year. There were 2 clues we picked up on here:
Clue 1: Adrien said he would be aiming at riding some World Cups this year. Given that Lapierre have discontinued their downhill bike this means either: a) Lapierre are working on a new DH bike, unlikely given their shift to e-bikes, or b) Dailly is off to a new team.
Clue 2: Wyn made many references to Dailly’s special lines. Could this be a bit of French ribbing or is there something more here - special lines… specialines… Specialized?
So were we overreaching here or is there something more going on? We reach out to Adrien but he kept schtum, we'll update you if we hear anything more. Sources close to Adrien have cast some doubt on this but we think it could be a possibility.
Rumour: George Brannigan to Leave GT Status: confirmed
Despite being on the team for 2 years, it feels like George Brannigan never got the chance to show what he was capable of on GT. While racing for both Trek and Commencal, he was a regular top ten rider but four broken collarbones in a year saw him sitting out almost all of the 2018 season and only slowly returning to form in 2019.
Rachelle Boobar, marketing manager at GT, told us "right now he is contracted with GT until the end of the year, beyond that you will have to wait to hear more", which in our mind as good as confirms George's departure. We’ve heard whispers George is riding for Propain next year but we're still waiting for full confirmation. Wherever it is, hopefully he’ll be able to have an injury-free run and put himself back in the mix at the top of the timesheets.
Rumour: Noga Korem to Leave GT Status: possible
We've also heard that Noga Korem is leaving GT next year as well. Noga ended the year second in the world in the EWS and was one of the only real challengers to Isabeau's domination this year. GT gave us the same comment as for George so we'll have to wait and see for now.
With so many changes at GT it looks like there could be a complete overhaul of their racing programs. No word on what that may mean for Maes, although he re-signed last year and we assume it was for more than a year.
Rumour: Damien Oton to Leave Devinci Status: confirmed
Enduro's Mr Consistent has confirmed he will no longer be racing with Devinci in 2020. We've long made the argument that Oton is the most underrated rider on the Enduro World Series circuit and even despite finishing second overall last year he continues to fly under a lot of radars. Oton had a rough season in 2019 with a scaphoid injury picked up in training for Rotorua knocking him out of the first two rounds and then a broken back that saw him out of action until Zermatt but the setbacks will no doubt have fired him up for a strong season in 2020.
Oton has been with Devinci since 2014 but looks to be set for a new setup next year. He confirmed to us that he will be on a new team for next year and apparently has a few options to pick from. We'll update you with his final decision and a full interview when we learn more.
Rumour: Charlie Harrison to Intense Status: false
Charlie Harrison has been spotted training with Aaron Gwin recently but does that mean that an all American dream team is coming next year? We’re not so sure. Yes, a team of Gwin, Mulally and Harrison would be awesome for American fans to get behind but logistically it doesn’t seem like it’s going to come together in 2020.
Charlie Harrison signed to Trek last year and seems to be loving it. He’s established himself as the lead rider on the team and bookended his season with his first ever World Cup podiums. Most importantly of all, he’s probably under contract with the Wisconsin brand for another two years so a move anywhere is highly unlikely. If anything, this news is just two good friends going out for a ride together, nothing more, nothing less.
Rumour: FMD Racing To Use Canyon Bikes Status: possible
FMD have enjoyed a prolific period with Transition that saw the launch of the TR11 platform and Tahnee grab her first five World Cup wins.
You would expect such a successful partnership to continue as long as possible but Tahnee has apparently been sighted at the Canyon factory in Germany this off-season. We don’t expect Tahnee to leave her cosy, family set up behind, which leads us to suspect the FMD team could be looking for a new bike sponsor in 2020.
Tahnee’s success and Kaos’ style make the FMD team a hugely valuable asset for any brand. Canyon are now a global powerhouse brand and will be keen to find a top female athlete for their downhill bikes. Are their pockets deep enough to support two Elite World Cup teams though? We tried reaching out for answers here but heard nothing back. As always, we'll update you with more news as and when we get it.
Rumour: Troy Brosnan to stay on Canyon Status: confirmed
Hang on, we already know this one
, right? Yes, we do but it's what isn't said here that's important. Troy Brosnan has confirmed his place on Canyon for next year but neither Mark Wallace nor Kye A'Hern have.
Does this hint to something more going on with the Canyon team? We genuinely don't know at this point but it definitely piqued our suspicions, especially with all the rumours surrounding Tahnee and the FMD team.
Rumour: Vali Holl to stay with SRAM TLD Racing Status: confirmed
Despite swirling rumours that she would be riding for the YT Mob in 2020, we've had confirmation that Vali Höll will be retained by the SRAM TLD team that nurtured her to two successive junior downhill World Cup titles.
John Dawson, team manager at SRAM, explained that Vali wanted a stress free year next year as she completes her final year at school alongside racing. While there have apparently been offers on the table for her, he believes SRAM TLD will be best placed to make the tricky transition up to elites as easy as possible for her without the pressures being on a trade team may have placed on her. We've heard that this may be her last year on the team though and that she will also be missing a couple of World Cups next year to focus on school work and exams. In staying with the SRAM TLD team, Vali follows in the footsteps of Luca Shaw, who came into elites as a hotly tipped junior but stuck with the team for a couple of years to build up experience before moving on to a bigger team.
So where does that leave the YT Mob? Well, we know that they will fill two junior slots through their World Tour talent search and Martin Whiteley also hinted that they will be fielding a further two elite riders alongside Angel Suarez with this comment:
We'll keep you updated with further SRAM TLD and YT Mob news as we get it.
Rumour: Nina Hoffmann to the Santa Cruz Syndicate Status: highly likely
Ever since she burst onto the podium in Fort William, it has been obvious Hoffmann would find herself on a team this year, the question was always, which one? The Syndicate suspicions started early in the year and have persisted ever since. Hoffmann is regularly seen hanging out in the Synidacte pits and has even appeared in Syndicate videos, so it's no surprise the rumours are swirling.
Nina is currently sponsored by Juliana so it won't be much of a transition to simply re-badge her bike and join the Syndicate boys in their pits. On top of this, she was recently racing on a bike marked up in Santa Cruz logos, not Juliana.
However, Nina told us that she broke her Juliana earlier in the year and has been using this bike since Val di Sole, so it isn't a new discovery. She also mentioned she was still figuring out what to do and she should have an answer in the next few weeks. But, come on, it has to be the Syndicate... right?