Evil Bikes and MS-Racing have joined forces to launch a new UCI trade team. Joining rising Canadian downhill star Stevie Smith on the squad are World Cup stalwart Matti Lehikoinen and 4X ace Filip Polc.
They will use the new Evil Revolt for downhill and Faction hardtail frames for 4X, kitted out with the latest gear from Gravity, Fox Racing Shox, Formula, e.thirteen, Mavic, Crank Brothers, ITS, WTB and ODI.
Team director Markus Stockl said: "After we (MS-Racing) won the 4X team overall and women's 4X overall titles in 2008 we felt stagnant and knew it was time for a change – new partners, new visions and new input. Evil Bikes is a new company but with experts behind the scenes who have been influencing mountain biking for a while now. From our first meeting I knew they shared the same passion and vision for the sport that is needed to build a successful team."
Lehikoinen, 24, from Finland, has won two UCI Downhill World Cup rounds and came second overall in the 2007 World Cup, but had a tough 2008 which included breaking a vertebrae in his back and both wrists. He has been preparing for 2009 at the Red Bull Training Center in Austria.
Polc, 26, from Slovakia, competes in both downhill and 4X at World Cup level, as well as the occasional Mega Avalanche event. He is looking for some podium finishes in '09.
Smith, 18, from Vancouver Island, is looking to follow up on his breakout '08 year in the elite category and hopes to step onto a World Cup podium this season.
Evil owner Kevin Walsh said: "From the moment I picked up the giant Austrian from Seattle airport, Markus and I hit it off. It's pretty rare to find highly motivated, like-minded people and organisations that truly share the same ideals and can have fun doing it. We're like a bad Eighties mullet haircut – business in the front and party in the back!
"We're excited to partner with MS-Racing and continue to support World Cup mountain bike racing and help grow the sport globally. This is nothing shy of a dream come true – a Slayer tourbus filled with a rogue team of amazing athletes, ambassadors, friends personalities and creative thinkers...!"
Team manager Lukas Haider said: "It's a great opportunity to work with Evil, not just to be the first team to race Dave Weagle's new Delta System [suspension design], but also because the people who are working behind the scenes at Evil are as passionate as we are. I'm really looking forward to working with all the people at Evil Bikes and the new crew of riders in '09."