Hannah chats with Chris Maloney to find out what keeps him giving up his free time…
It’s only a week since it was officially announced that Danny Hart was leaving Cube, though it’s been a strong rumour for some time now, and many have been wondering what it meant for the future of Cube’s racing plans. With pretty much a straight swap, Danny is out, but Jess Blewitt is in, leaving Cube Factory Racing team mates Simon Chapelet and Max Hartenstern on the DH roster from last year.
Is this just a change of athlete and perhaps a greater shot at podiums? Danny only managed to bag one World Cup podium in his three years at Cube and is apparently still looking for a ride for next year. Jess has also only had one World Cup podium, but she’s also had some significant publicity with her big air skills – and some big injuries that disrupted her season. Or, has this change made it possible for them to set up the Cross Country Factory Racing Team, which is a new addition to Cube’s racing presence?
Whatever, it’s good to see that Jess has picked up a contract after the closure of GT Factory racing. She’s certainly been pushing herself and the women’s scene forward – Tahnee Seagrave credited Jess with giving her the inspiration to make the women’s Red Bull Hardline camp happen last year.
Revealing her new team on Instagram, Jess says:
Going to be sick!! Can’t wait to get back between the tape with a full focus on racing this year. Let’s get this show on the road!
Let’s hope her focus isn’t totally on racing – we’ve rather enjoyed her big air stuff!
Update 5th Jan: Jess confirmed she turned down Hardline this year – a hard decision but she says she wants to focus on racing as she has a lot she wants to achieve on the World Cup circuit. She’s hoping to stay involved on the sidelines of the freeride scene.
It’s also interesting to see Cube beefing up its XC presence – perhaps hoping to catch some public interest as a result of the Olympics? Or maybe spotting the potential for accessible TV coverage with XCO and XC short course races? Will other teams be making similar changes? We’ll be watching the announcements with interest.
Here’s the official PR from Cube:
CUBE restructures Factory Racing team
Bavarian bike manufacturer CUBE steps up its sponsorship with new signing Jess Blewitt for the Downhill Factory Racing team, the creation of a new Cross Country Factory Racing team, and the expansion of its own Next Generation talent development squad.
New Zealander Jess Blewitt joins the Downhill Factory Racing team from the 2024 season. The 21-year-old is one of the rising stars of the downhill racing circuit and a regular fixture on the podium despite injury troubles. “I’m stoked on the team and the bike. I immediately felt part of the CUBE family,” says the CUBE Factory Racing rider. Seven-time German Downhill Champion Max Hartenstern and 21-year-old Simon Chapelet stay with Factory Racing.
CUBE has created the new Cross Country Factory Racing team in a move to expand its commitment to the Olympic discipline and integrate cross country into the factory team. Kira Böhm moves to Factory Racing from CUBE’s own development team, and is joined by Norwegian Champion Knut Røhme and young Swissman Finn Treudler. This professional environment is the ideal platform for the cross country athletes to unlock their full potential and establish themselves amongst the best riders in the world.
There is also more sponsorship for young athletes. Alongside its long-standing commitment in cross country, from 2024 the Next Generation team will also add downhill to its programme. The goal is to give talented young riders the opportunity to develop as athletes and step up to the respective pro team.
Creating a family atmosphere and building long-term relationships is very important to CUBE, and putting the spotlight on young athletes further cements these values, says CUBE’s founder and owner, Marcus Pürner. “As part of our move to develop race-ready bikes for downhill and cross country, it was obvious to us that we also wanted to further broaden our sponsorship. With Jess on our downhill squad we have an athlete who can achieve regular podium results. Max and Simon, too, have already broken through into the ranks of the top riders in the world. Kira has shown she is a top contender with eight top-ten XC World Cup finishes under her belt already. And I am super happy with the positive progress of Finn and Knut. This sends the clear message that our product portfolio and our developments in downhill and cross country have made it to the very top, and that we offer our customers highest-quality bikes. We are passionate about our commitment to up-and-coming young athletes and developing our own talents long term.”
The UCI Cross Country World Cup kicks off with two stops in Brazil, while the Downhill World Cup calendar gets under way in Fort William, Scotland, in early May. All in all, the cross country team will take on eight races while the downhill squad have seven on the schedule. The big goal of the season is the World Championships in Andorra from 28 August to 1 September, before the closing races in the United States and Canada. The Next Generation riders will be targeting the podium at the European Championships in the U15 and U17 age categories.