by Wil Barrett
March 29, 2017
Announced barely a fortnight ago, you may have already heard that Saddleback UK has joined forces with Intense Cycles and Troy Lee Designs to launch the brand new Intense UK race team. With seven riders across a range of riding disciplines and categories, the locally-grown race team will be setting its sights on a range of local and overseas events, including Enduro World Series rounds and World Cup DH events.
Whether you’re into racing or not, you’ve gotta appreciate that this is kind of a big deal. Normally race teams are reserved for the biggest of brands and the biggest of sponsors. But most of those teams only operate on a World Cup level, and that means there aren’t a whole lot of national teams available for young riders to step into before moving up to that next level.
And that’s exactly why Saddleback decided to launch its new team.
During the Saddleback house show where we checked out the new 2017 Troy Lee Designs apparel range amongst other new goodies, we also caught up with the manager of the new Intense UK race team, Olly Morris, along with some of the bright young talent that he’ll be mentoring as they progress through the ranks.
Olly is a seasoned downhill racer himself, but seems to have a perpetual energy for both the sport as a whole, and for the race scene. After getting in touch with Team Director Martin Astley last year, Olly put himself forward for the Team Manager position with the goal of racing Elite Downhill himself, whilst helping to guide some of the younger riders in the team.
Another veteran of the UK race scene is Andrew Titley, who will continue is long-running career in downhill racing. Alongside his new teammates, Titley will be racing aboard an Intense M16 for the 2017 race season.
The Intense UK team will be racing both Enduro and DH events as part of the 2017 race calendar. Some riders will be racing both disciplines, with all the big UK races covered. The team is planning to have a large presence on the local scene, with the goal of becoming both a vessel for youth development, whilst also creating something for new young riders to look up to.
After chatting with some of the riders during the team launch, we decided to get a closer look at the two bikes they’ll be racing on this year; the Intense M16, and the Tracer.
Olly Morris will be racing both downhill and enduro for 2017 on the Intense UK team. His passion is for downhill, so expect to see him at numerous events, including the upcoming Fort William World Cup round.
This is Charlie Hatton. He’s stepping up into the Elite DH category, and will be racing on a carbon fibre Intense M16. Hatton had a fantastic 2016 race season, with some solid results on the World Cup level, and he’s hoping to go further in 2017 thanks to the support of the new team.
One to watch on the junior DH circuit, this tall young bloke has got some serious talent on board. Joe had a good yarn to us in front of the camera about his new bike and the races he’s got coming up, and you can check out the video below.
Jess Greaves is both an employee at Saddleback, and a team rider for Intense UK. Watch out for her in the Elite Women’s category both locally and abroad.
Scottish rider Sam Flockhart has high expectations for 2017, and he’s hoping to rack up some solid results aboard the carbon fibre Intense Tracer. Intense Cycles only launched the new Tracer a month ago, and based on James’ review of the Intense Tracer, this is going to be a very fast machine for Sam.
Hailing from South Wales, Ajay Jones is absolutely buzzing about being selected for the Intense UK team. Each and every team member went through the same selection process last year, which involved multiple criteria. Team Director Martin Astley didn’t just want fast riders, he wanted approachable and easy to talk to riders, who could be successful ambassadors for Intense, TLD, ENVE, and all the brands that Saddleback represents in the UK. And Ajay is most definitely one of those characters that ticks all the necessary boxes.
Andrew Titley is the veteran of the team, and will be racing both the Intense M16 and Tracer throughout the season. With years of experience between Titley and Morris, the younger riders on the Intense UK team will have plenty of support from the guys who have been in the scene for a long time.
After chatting with all the new team riders during the launch, we pulled the camera out to do a bike check on the new Tracer and M16s that the riders will be piloting throughout the 2016 race season. Check it out below!