Pinkbike is going racing! We've dreamed about this day for a long time and we can officially share some details about our plans for the 2022 UCI World Cup downhill season.
With Ben Cathro at the helm, we're hoping to do things a bit differently with our team. After our State of the Sport Survey
last year, we were shocked at how little support many of the juniors and lower ranked riders are getting today. The financial commitments required for many young riders to race a full season are so high that it generally requires enormous sacrifice from their family or they simply have to watch their racing dreams evaporate. We don't want World Cup racing to be where only the most affluent are able to compete, so we're setting out to help juniors and riders on the bubble that need support to break through and build a foundation for sustainable racing careers.
We're providing the team with wages, full race support, top quality race bikes and we'll be covering all their World Cup racing expenses. so that the only things they have to worry about happen between the tape. We'll also be documenting the entire season so you can watch the struggles and successes as they race at the sport's highest level. So, without any further ado, let's meet the team.
Jackson Connelly was winning everything there was to win in Australia (including four National Championships and 2 Oceanian championships) up until this year. Unfortunately when he became a first year junior, Australia wouldn't grant him a permit to leave the country as he wasn't on a UCI team, so he was forced to sit out the series and watch it at home on Red Bull like the rest of us.
Now he's a part of Pinkbike Racing, Jackson will be competing as a second year junior finding his feet in on the European race scene for the first time. As if that wasn't hard enough, Jackson is also rehabbing from an offseason surgery and is fighting to be fit in time for the season.
Jindabyne, AustraliaInstagram: @jackson_connelly
Inverness, ScotlandInstagram: @aimi_kenyon
Aimi is the youngest member of the Pinkbike racing team but has shown amazing potential in her short racing career so far. In 2021, she completed a perfect season with 4 British National wins and the National Championship all under her belt, what's more impressive is that she won with times that were rivalling those of the elite women too.
Stepping up to World Cup level will be a challenge with stronger competition, tougher tracks and increased pressure but Aimi has bags of potential and the drive to succeed at the highest level.
Well, we had to have a Frenchie, right? At 24 years old, Thibault Laly comes to Pinkbike Racing at a crossroads in his career. He has been racing since he was a teenager, has achieved junior World Cup podiums, and has been invited to Hardline in the past. But he's yet to crack into the fabled Elite top 20.
Those of you who follow racing closely will know that Thibault joins us from a factory team, but he hasn't always had the support that you may think that might entail. Pinkbike Racing will allow him to focus more of his time on racing and we can't wait to see how this leg-up will boost his career. We're hoping he'll be able to find the missing ingredient that makes him a regular top 20 rider as part of the team.
Clermont Ferrand, FranceInstagram: @laly_tbo
Pitlochry, ScotlandInstagram: @ben_cathro
Anchoring the whole project, Ben 'Line Guy' Cathro should need no introduction. Pinkbike Racing was born out of Ben's time as The Privateer, when he helped Jamie Edmondson and Mikayla Parton kickstart their careers in Lourdes 2020.
Ben will be the team's coach and will be using his technical knowledge and World Cup experience to help the rest of the team find that missing ingredient to help them achieve their goals. Alongside that, he'll be producing his usual mix of content for Pinkbike will be hoping to enter a few World Cups himself to improve on his stellar run of form from last year.
No, the team won't be racing on the Grim Donut this year (the Donut's superiority would be unfair to all the other teams, obviously) but we've got plenty of great support. A team that isn't focused only on getting the most results for the least money is a rare thing in this sport, and we couldn't have made this project work without partners who get it. We're incredibly grateful to these sponsors who have embraced this project and the goal of the team.
We also want to extend a special thank you to Mondraker and the MS Mondraker team for helping us out of a hole at the 11th hour. All will be explained as the series kicks off in the spring.
PS. The series will be available publicly on Pinkbike.