Ettinger opts for rider-owned program in pursuit of Olympic selection
Bellingham, WA– 12 January, 2016: Stephen Ettinger announced today that he has joined forces with the RideBiker program and Focus Bikes. The RideBiker organization, founded in 2015, provides a unifying platform for professional mountain bikers who prefer the privateer model over a more traditional factory team. Ettinger is both the team owner and manager of Cascade Sport, as well as, the primary professional rider.
“Going into the Olympic year, I have collaborated with sponsors that I feel I can win with and assist them in growing within the cycling industry,” said Ettinger. “I know every single detail matters, especially during an Olympic year. I wanted to work with Focus, Shimano, Fox, and Kenda because having the best equipment will make a huge difference.”
“Without RideBiker, this project would not have been possible,” Ettinger continued. “They’re helping facilitate this kind of program not only for me but many other elite athletes in the US right now. This sponsored group is called 'Team RideBiker'. This model is unique to professional mountain biking, but we’ve seen similar platforms work successfully in disciplines like CX and Gravity MTB. I’m committed to demonstrating that it is the best way forward for both me as an athlete and for my sponsors.”
"RideBiker is changing the way professional mountain bikers can turn the sport they love into a viable, sustainable career," added Ridebiker Vice President Colt McElwaine. "By combining the best elements of a privateer program with those of a more traditional factory team model, we've created a win-win environment for the team, the athletes and the sponsors with which they work. With a 20-rider roster, Team Ridebiker powered by Sho-Air is breaking ground as the largest professional mountain bike team ever assembled in North America. We couldn't be more thrilled to work with Stephen and to have him as a mentor for the many up-and-coming pros on our 2016 roster."
Ettinger will ride the Focus Raven MAX and a new, yet to be released, full-suspension model, both equipped with Shimano and PRO components, Fox Suspension and Kenda Tires throughout the 2016 season.
“I approached Shimano and Fox because I wanted to be working with the best and most reliable product out there,” said Ettinger. “I’m thrilled that I’ve ended up with exactly what I wanted. Fox and Shimano are both relationships I’ve had in the past. Focus is a new partner and one that I’m particularly excited about building a relationship. All three companies produce incredible products at the top of their respective markets.
“I’ll also continue to work with Kenda in 2016,” Ettinger added. “I started working with them in 2015 and I’m looking forward to building on that partnership and racing what has been a really reliable tire selection.”
A partnership with CLIF Bar provides another important piece of the puzzle. Ettinger expressed relief to know that his nutritional needs would be attended to by one of the most experienced names in the performance food industry.
“CLIF Bar has been at the forefront of what they’re doing for going on three decades,” said Ettinger. “To know that I have access to the best product is a huge load off my shoulders, but even more, it’s a great company with an awesome spirit and I’m excited to be working closely with everyone at CLIF.”
“We’ve had our eye on Stephen since he won the U23 National Championship a few years back,” said Eric Walle, CLIF Bar’s Cycling Marketing Manager. “He’s progressed a ton since then and we are extremely excited to finally be working with him.”
Five years on from a breakout season that saw Ettinger take the U23 XC national title, the 26-year-old has proven to be the United State’s most consistent athlete in his discipline, winning the 2013 Elite XC National Championship, the 2014 Short-Track National Championship and the 2014 Pan American Championships. He gained invaluable international experience with Swiss-based BMC Mountainbike Racing Team before returning to the States to race with Sho-Air/Cannondale last season. Ettinger believes his privateer program offers him the best option to meet his ambitious goals in the upcoming season.
“I want to be in the top ten at World Cups, and I want to make it to the Olympics,” said Ettinger. “Those are the big performance goals. I’d also like to win more races domestically again this year. The US has so many UCI HC races with the RideBiker Events US Cup series. Those are clearly on my radar, and I would like to maybe win another national title.”
“The single-rider model allows for more direct contact between me and my sponsors, which ultimately results in better support and better product,” noted Ettinger. “I can provide feedback and develop products that work specifically for me – and hopefully others in the sport benefit in the process.”
“I’ve had lots of experience with teams based in Europe and teams based in North America, and for a rider who wants to do well on both sides of the Atlantic, it’ hard to find a program that really fits,” added Ettinger. “In a large program, it’s easy to have the system set-up around the interests of the top rider and other athlete's needs and requests fall by the wayside. This program allows me to assume the most control of and responsibility for my success.
Ettinger will make his season debut at the Bear Mountain Canada Cup in early March. His schedule includes six World Cups, the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, the US National Championships in Mammoth Mountain, California and – hopefully – the 2016 Rio Olympics. While partnerships with RideBiker, Focus, Shimano, Kenda, and CLIF Bar are key industry sponsors, Ettinger continues to seek additional sponsors for what is promised to be an action-packed season.
“One of the most exciting parts of this project is my ability to choose partners who will make the biggest impact on my racing, and ultimately the success of the program for us all,” said Ettinger. “Although I’ve assembled an exciting, strong, group of sponsors to this point, there’s always room for new partners to jump in and support what I am doing. Anyone that’s interested can reach out to get in touch with us through the cascadesport.bike website.”
About Ridebiker Alliance
Founded in 2015, RideBiker Alliance is the brainchild of longtime cycling supporter Scott Tedro. After nearly a decade as a team owner and event promoter, Mr. Tedro created RideBiker to be a sustainable solution to support cycling and cyclists of all kinds for years to come. With new Vice President Colt McElwaine, the RideBiker Alliance supports more than 50 cycling clubs and teams across North America with nearly 5,000 members world-wide. Ridebiker Events owns and operates 22 national caliber races-- including Kenda Cup East, Kenda Cup West, Catalina Grand Fondo, and the only UCI HC mountain bike series in America, the US Cup. Team RideBiker powered by Sho-Air is the largest professional mountain bike team ever assembled, including thirteen men and seven women spread across North America. Ridebiker is also the proud title sponsor of the top ranked Twenty16/ RideBiker professional women's road team. Learn more and join the Alliance at www.RideBiker.com.