INTRODUCING: THE 2023 GIANT FACTORY OFF-ROAD TEAM
Posted by Eric Roque on
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2023
With a strong mix of exciting new talent and returning champions, the team has sharpened its focus on the new and expanded MTB World Cup calendar.
The 2023 Giant Factory Off-Road Team includes 10 athletes competing in XC, downhill and enduro events, which this year have evolved from the Enduro World Series to official UCI World Cup status. The new roster boasts national champions, Olympic hopefuls and top contenders for the most prestigious mountain bike races around the world.
“This is a really exciting year ahead for the team on so many levels,” said Giant Factory Off-Road Team Manager Sebastian Boyington. “It starts with our five new athletes. It’s a big move for a rider to switch programs, so creating a seamless transition for them was our top priority. It’s been great to see their first impressions and watch their confidence take off. It’s really a testament to our industry-leading sponsors and to the work our five returning athletes have done with Giant to help develop new bikes. We’re excited for the world to see what’s coming!”
The XC squad has been revamped with three new riders bringing more firepower to elite and U23 World Cup races. The new recruits include Belgian elite men’s XC champion Jens Schuermans. The 29-year-old is a two-time Olympian (2016, 2020) with five career World Cup podiums. Schuermans finished the 2022 World Cup in 12th overall and is aiming even higher this year.
“Joining the Giant Factory Off-Road Team feels really special to me,” Schuermans said. “I had a good 2022 season with multiple top-10s in the World Cup, but I just missed the podium on a few occasions. Podiums are where I want to be, and I believe this world class team and its staff can help me achieve that goal. I’ve been testing my new Anthem Advanced Pro 29 for a few weeks now and I’m really happy with my new race machine.”
Also new this year is Alexandre Balmer, a multi-talented Swiss rider who will split his time between World Cup XC competition with the Giant Factory Off-Road Team and WorldTour road racing with Team Jayco AlUla. The 22-year-old won two world championships as a junior in 2018, taking gold in cross-country and the team relay. Balmer also won the European XC world title as a junior that year and has several Swiss national championships on the road.
The third new addition to the XC squad is Canadian Carter Woods. The 21-year-old is coming off a breakout 2022 season that saw him win the U23 Canadian men’s national title and finish second overall in the U23 World Cup series. Woods was a consistent frontrunner all year long, scoring one win and several podiums in the World Cup. This year Woods is aiming for more World Cup wins and the U23 World Championship title.
The three new XC riders join returning team member Antoine Philipp. The 25-year-old Frenchman has been climbing through the ranks and last year scored his first top-10 World Cup result at the elite level.
All the XC athletes have their choice of race bikes depending on race conditions and terrain. The Anthem Advanced Pro 29 full-suspension bike is the go-to machine for technical courses and the XtC Advanced SL 29 hardtail is the choice for smooth, fast XC racetracks.
DH and Enduro
On the gravity racing side, Luke and Remy Meier-Smith, Australian brothers who excel in both DH and enduro racing, are also joining the team. The 20-year-old Luke Meier-Smith already has an impressive list of achievements in both disciplines. Last year he scored two top-10 World Cup DH finishes at the elite men’s level and finished fourth in the elite men’s DH national championships in Australia. In enduro racing, Luke won five 2022 Enduro World Series races in the U21 category and took the overall title.
“It’s a real privilege to be joining the Giant Factory Off-Road Team for 2023 and beyond,” said Luke Meier-Smith. “I grew up riding Giant bikes, so it’s really cool to come back to where it all began. “I’ve already spent a few weeks on the new bike and I’m absolutely loving it. Excited to put my head down during the off-season and come out swinging this year.”
Luke’s younger brother Remy Meier-Smith, 18, is the current U19 Australian DH national champion. Racing as a junior last year, Remy scored four World Cup podiums and took the silver medal at the DH World Championships.
The Meier-Smith brothers join returning DH veteran Rémi Thirion of France. Thirion has a handful of World Cup podiums and one win to his name. All three will be racing Glory Advanced DH bikes, working with the team’s technical staff to help develop and test next-generation models for the new season.
Also returning for 2023 are enduro racers Youn Deniaud of France and Canadian Mckay Vezina. Deniaud had his best results of 2022 at the final two rounds of the EWS, including a stage win at the finals in Loudonvielle, France. Vezina also had a solid EWS season highlighted by three top-20 finishes. Both will have their Reign Advanced Pro race bikes along with shorter travel Trance X Advanced Pro 29 trail bikes for select events.
Rounding out the team is Australian Josh Carlson competing in E-bike events. Winner of the past three E-Enduro national championships in Australia, the veteran is targeting key events in the 2023 UCI MTB World Cup E-enduro series. Carlson races primarily on his Reign E+ Pro and Trance X Advanced E+ E-bikes.
On the technical front, the team welcomes back most of its sponsors from 2022 including FOX suspension products, Maxxis tires, Shimano drivetrain and brake components, MRP chain guides, HT pedals, and PRO cockpit components. Additional components and gear include Giant WheelSystems, saddles and accessories including the Clutch tool system. The team also welcomes Stages Cycling as its new power meter sponsor.
On the apparel side, the team continues its partnership with Cuore of Switzerland, which will supply race kits for XC and gravity racers. 100% will supply full-face helmets, body protection, eyewear and gloves, while Giant supplies other helmets including the Rev Pro for XC and the Rail SX and Realm for trail/enduro. Giant also supplies footwear including the Charge Pro XC shoe, Line trail/enduro shoe and the Shuttle DH shoe.
You can follow the Giant Factory Off-Road Team all year long on Instagram and Facebook.
2023 Giant Factory Off-Road Team
Alexandre Balmer (SUI), XC
Josh Carlson (AUS), E-bike
Youn Deniaud (FRA), Enduro
Luke Meier-Smith (AUS), DH and Enduro
Remy Meier-Smith (AUS), DH and Enduro
Antoine Philipp (FRA), XC
Jens Schuermans (BEL), XC
Rémi Thirion (FRA), DH
Mckay Vezina (CAN), Enduro
Carter Woods (CAN), XC
2023 Giant Factory Off-Road Team sponsors
Suspension forks/shocks: FOX
Drivetrain & Brakes: Shimano
Saddle: Giant and PRO
Seatpost: FOX dropper and PRO seatposts
Cycling Computers: Giant/Stages Cycling
Power meters: Stages Cycling
Chain guides: MRP
Tire insert: CushCore
Cycling shoes: Giant
Race kits: Cuore
Cycling eyewear: 100%
Helmet: Giant & 100% (full-face)
Other: Park Tool, Finish Line lube and cleaning products, Stan’s tire sealant, GoPro cameras, Thule gear