After the recent announcement that Intense Factory Racing had been dissolved and riders including owner Aaron Gwin, Dakotah Norton, Joe Breeden and Seth Sherlock would be moving on, it looked like the end for Intense Factory Racing. However, last week a teaser video posted on Instagram with the words, "The reports of my death were greatly exaggerated", speculation was fueled that it maybe wasn't quite the end of IFR.
The post also had silhouettes of four potentially new but unidentifiable riders holding Intense frames, and the rumor mill of who they might be kicked into action. It was difficult to tell if anyone from last year's roster remained, but certainly, none of the silhouettes looked like team owner Aaron Gwin. But soon after the IFR announcement, Aaron Gwin confirmed that he and Todd Schumlick would no longer be sponsored by Intense Cycles, adding that they are planning on constructing their own new team.
After last week's teaser, IFR has now announced they will continue racing in 2024, but just who are the mysterious new members of what is now confirmed as the all-new, but same named Intense Factory Racing team? Read on below to find out...
Having ridden for Intense for the last five years, firstly on the UK-based team for three years, and then on the IFR team for the last two seasons, downhill World Cup racer Joe Breeden will head up the new team, as a rider and in a team management role too. As part of the announcement, he spoke about his excitement for the new season ahead and his new role.
“When I found out that the IFR team was finishing under the ownership of Aaron Gwin, I saw the opportunity to take on a new responsibility. I wanted to put a team in place that not only fitted my racing needs but also gave a platform for other riders to perform at their best, and provide the most value possible to the brands that are supporting us. The vision for the team is to offer an environment for personal growth, a place where we develop people and craft riders, providing a platform for champions to form.”
Joe has brought in industry veteran Olly Morris to help from a management and performance perspective. Elsewhere, Joe’s trusted mechanic, Jon Stout, joins as Head Mechanic. Intense say Jon brings a ton of experience and knowledge about what is needed to set up and run a high-level race team.
Jon is also joined by MTB legend Randy Lawrence, who was an original 1995 Intense team member. Randy will mechanic for his son Ryder Lawrence who has also announced alongside Oscar Griffiths, as the other Male riders who will ride in the Juniors. The new team will also return to the Women's Elite downhill as British rider and former Nukeproof SRAM Factory Racing rider, Louise Ferguson, joins to complete the line-up.
Founder and CEO of Intense, Jeff Steber, added his thoughts on the new team set-up, "This year’s team reminds me of why I started Intense, and it feels like history is coming full circle after 30 years. The relaunch of the M1 combined with the introduction of a fresh, new IFR program combines old traditions with new possibilities. Joe has ridden Intense since his early days as a Junior. Ryder and Oscar are both very promising Juniors. Add to that the team’s exciting return to the Women’s Elite field with the super-talented Louise Ferguson. With such a great group, on a completely re-designed race rig, it’s bound to be a nail-biter of a season."
The IFR team will be riding a new Intense M1 downhill mountain bike and will take it to the starting gate in the Downhill World Cup Series, local National Series and selected events in the Crankworx World Tour. The team have also announced a fine selection of brand sponsors including Continental Tires, Troy Lee Designs, e*thirteen, Saddleback, J-Tech Suspension, Öhlins, OneUp Components, HT, Smanie, Peaty’s, Works Components and TRP.
The IFR squad are now busy getting to know each other, their new bikes, and training for the upcoming race season that kicks off with the first World Cup at the start of May in Fort William, Scotland. Follow the new IFR team’s progress on Instagram @intensefactoryracing.