Top Pro MTB rider transfers: the most significant team moves this season

Top Pro MTB rider transfers
(Image credit: Santa Cruz)

The start of a new year brings a flurry of rider transfers. Rumors start to circulate in the race pits and on online forums starting mid-season, and since many contracts begin on 1 January, riders are free to announce their plans. 

A number of high-profile rider transfers and sponsorship changes have taken place this year, which can make it difficult to keep track. Luckily for you, we've collated the most significant ones here, covering Downhill, Cross-Country and Freeride. This is your guide to who's riding for whom in 2021. 

Jump ahead:

1. Downhill

Camille Balanche at the 2020 downhill World Championships

Camille Balanche at the 2020 downhill World Championships (Image credit: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool)

Camille Balanche stays with Dorval AM

Current downhill World Champion Camille Balanche will race with the Dorval AM team for two more years. The Swiss racer competed as a privateer in 2019 before joining the Dorval team for a successful 2020 season, taking the elite women's Downhill World Championships win on a muddy course in Leogang, Austria. 

Tracey Hannah retires from World Cup racing 

Following the completion of the last World Cup race of 2020 in Lousa, Portugal, longtime Australian racer Tracey Hannah retired from full-time racing. Having stood on many elite podiums and winning a World Cup overall title, Hannah was a regular on the World Cup circuit. Hannah said she isn't done riding and racing, but she won't be returning to World Cups. 

Angel Saurez joins Commencal 21

After five years racing for the YT Mob, Spaniard Angel Saurez has joined the Commencal 21 team. In 2020, Saurez rode to 7th place overall in the World Cup rankings and he'll join a long legacy of racing success at Commencal. 

Loris Vergier joins Trek Factory Racing

One of the best racers of recent years made the shocking announcement that he'd be leaving one of the hottest teams. Loris Vergier left the iconic Santa Cruz Syndicate team to join Trek Factory Racing after taking a double win at the double-header race in Maribor, Slovenia, and finishing fourth in the overall World Cup standings. 

Phil Atwill joins Propain Bikes

After two years riding for Cube, British 'freeracer' Phil Atwil has returned to previous sponsor Propain Bikes. Atwil will run his own program and compete at select rounds of the World Cup, among other events. 

Vali Holl joins RockShox Trek Race Team

Few riders have seen success over the past few years like Vali Holl. She is a two-time junior World Champion and two-time junior World Cup overall winner. In 2021, the Austrian will tackle her first full elite season with the new RockShox Trek Race Team. 

Eliot Jackson signs with Santa Cruz

After four years on the Giant Factory Off-Road Team, Eliot Jackson has signed with Santa Cruz Bicycles. In 2017, Jackson rode to his first top-10 finish at a World Cup. More recently, he has worked as a video presenter at the World Cups for Red Bull. Last year, Jackson founded the Grow Cycling Foundation to promote diversity in cycling. 

Dakotah Norton joins the YT Mob

Dakotah Norton has been a rising American downhill star, and he finished 2020 on a high note with a podium finish at the final round of the World Cup. He'll be looking to keep that momentum up racing for the YT Mob team this season. 

Remi Thirion signs with Giant 

Remi Thirion has joined the Giant Factory Off-Road team after eight years riding for Commencal / Muc Off. The Frenchman podiumed at both World Championships and a World Cup last year, so he'll be looking to keep the success going on his new team.

Danny Hart joins Cube

One of the biggest rumors of the year, everybody has been wondering where Danny Hart would be riding in 2021. After leaving Madison Saracen (there has been speculation that the split was not amicable) Hart has finally announced that he'll be racing for Cube Factory Racing. The two-time World Champion and four-time World Cup winner will also be running FiveTen shoes

2. Cross-country

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot

Pauline Ferrand-Prevot at the 2020 XCO World Championships (Image credit: Camille Balanche at the 2020 downhill World Championships)

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot joins Absolute Absalon–BMC

After leaving Canyon-SRAM, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot announced she would be joining the Absolute Absalon-BMC team. The current XCO World Champion will be focusing on the Olympic Games in 2021. 

Emily Batty joins Canyon

After a long stint with Trek, Emily Batty made the switch to racing for Canyon. The Olympian hopes the switch will propel her to success at the World Cups, World Championships and Olympic Games. 

Jordan Sarrou joins Specialized

XCO World Champion Jordan Sarrou has left the Absolute Absalon team to join Specialized Factory Racing. Specialized has always had a presence at the top of the sport, and now they have a World Champion riding a Specialized Epic

Simon Andreassen joins Cannondale

Cannondale Factory Racing added some young cross-country talent to their roster for 2021, including Simon Andreassen. Andreassen won the first round of the 2020 World Cup XCO series in Nové Město, Czech Republic, and is a former junior XCO and cyclo-cross World Champion. He's joined on the team by another new signing, South African Alan Hatherly. 

Keegan Swenson signs with Santa Cruz

After his previous team disbanded, Olympic hopeful Keegan Swenson signed with Santa Cruz Bicycles. The current U.S. XCO National Champion set an everesting record last year and will be gunning for an Olympic selection this year. 

3. Freeride

Geoff Gulevich

Geoff Gulevich at the 2014 Red Bull Rampage contest  (Image credit: Christian Pondella/Red Bull Content Pool)

Geoff Gulevich joins Orbea

Freerider Geoff Gulevich left Focus Bikes and has signed with Orbea Bicycles. The Canadian has earned top-five placings at both Red Bull Rampage and Crankworx Whistler and has focused on photo and video projects throughout his career. 

Yoann Barelli joins Guerilla Gravity

After Yoann Barelli announced he would be stepping away from racing, he later announced that he would not be riding Commencal bikes. Recently, he announced that he would be taking on Guerilla Gravity as a bike sponsor. Guerilla Gravity is a small bike manufacturer based in Denver, Colorado. Barelli has recently focused on producing videos, and he has started a coaching business. 

Veronique Sandler joins Santa Cruz

One of the rising stars on the women's freeride scene in Veronique Sandler. After three years of riding for Marin, she has signed with Santa Cruz Bicycles. Sandler has appeared in multiple video projects, including VISION, a 2019 women's freeride film. 

Mitch Ropelato joins Cannondale

Do-it-all American racer Mitch Ropelato has joined Cannondale. Ropelato has a background in downhill racing and has toed the line in enduro races in recent years. He's also made some videos worthy of the 'freeracer' label. This year he'll be doing the same on a Cannondale. 

Rémy Métailler signs with Propain

Freerider Rémy Métailler will ride for Propain Bicycles this year. Métailler has recently developed a large YouTube following, and he put out one of the best freeride edits of the year. 

That's all for now, but we'll be adding more as the news breaks, so make sure you come back to stay up to date on the latest transfer news.

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Ryan Simonovich

Ryan Simonovich has been riding and racing for nearly a decade. He got his start as a cross-country mountain bike racer in California, where he cultivated his love for riding all types of bikes. Ryan eventually gravitated toward enduro and downhill racing but has also been found in the occasional road and cyclo-cross events. Today, he regularly rides the trails of Durango, Colorado, and is aiming to make a career out of chronicling the sport of cycling. 

Rides: Santa Cruz Hightower, Specialized Tarmac SL4