Six riders, five countries, three continents, one team.

At Paarl Media OMX Pro Team we are incredibly excited by our six rider roster of international athletes. We have brought together experience, results, character and potential to give a dynamic team who have a genuine synergy with our sponsors and the OMX brand.

Continuing their journey with the team from 2014 are Martin Gujan – one of a generation of big Swiss stars who brings a great deal of experience and leadership – and Africa’s biggest cross-country talent and potentially the happiest bike rider you will ever meet, Mariske Strauss.

Joining the team is another South African Elite racer with a big smile and a bright future ahead of her, Cherie Vale. Cherie joins from title sponsor Paarl Media. Israeli Champion, Shlomi Haimy, expands our team into Asia and brings a very realistic Olympic ambition as well as a kind manner. Germany’s Martin Gluth is a young Elite rider with an already-impressive palmares who cements our standing in Europe with a strong fan base in Silverback’s homeland. Finally we have Britain’s Isla Short, a first year Under 23 who is small in stature but not in talent.

Paarl Media Group and Silverback bikes headline the team’s sponsors. With financial backing behind us and critically acclaimed bicycle technology beneath us, these partners give us an amazing platform to perform.

We are happy to welcome back Spiuk as our helmet and shoe sponsor after a really positive partnership in 2014. Prologo also stay with us following a fantastic relationship over past years, providing saddles and gloves. In addition we are delighted to keep our sponsorship of superb tyres from Schwalbe.

Squirt Lube SA and Zipvit nutrition are also both back on board in 2015.

We have struck up a new sponsorship deal with Cuore, a Swiss kit manufacturer, who we are looking forward to working with this year. Kit is always exciting and we can’t wait to get our hands on this top-end product from the home of precision engineering! Finally, we are really thrilled to welcome SRAM who will be supplying us with the best components out there.

Each of our sponsors sits in line with our overall vision and goals as a team; they are innovative companies, with unbridled passion, producing the best products. They are World-class.

With these riders and sponsors we are in the best position we have ever been. We have strength and depth, professionalism and enthusiasm, confidence and commitment.

We would love for you to join our journey to become the number one cross-country mountain bike team by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Follow us on Twitter @OMXProTeam, on Instagram @omxproteam, and on Facebook as ‘Orange Monkey‘.

Together, we are OMX!



Five Reasons to Like Martin Gujan

Words and photographs by Anna Buick (www.fromthepits.co.uk).

Anna is now working with the team full time, producing more stories like this…


I am lucky enough to call Paul Beales, Manager at Paarl Media OMX Pro Team, a friend. He’s a pretty top notch guy who has turned a passion and a vision into an ever-growing and increasingly successful reality. It’s not been without a rather comical slice of stress and cynicism, but I digress. You will be hearing much more about this journey over the coming year, I assure you.


But back to the team’s latest signing, Switzerland’s Martin Gujan.


Martin dinner


Back in August, before I was officially working for Paarl Media OMX Pro Team, I sent an email to Paul just a couple of weeks before the final World Cup cross country race of the season in Meribel, France. We discussed a project, figured out some fairly advanced logistics and had ourselves some semblance of a plan.


I love cross-country mountain bike racing. I love the atmosphere, the commitment, the camaraderie, the people. This trip with the then-called Orange Monkey Pro Team was to be a slice of professional XC life, living with the team for the days leading up to the race and getting to know the newest (although now very well-established) member of the Orange Monkey family: Guschi.


Martin wheels bike (2)


As I discovered, there is a lot to like about Guschi. Here are five reasons why:

1) He’s happy to wait.

The logistical plan (of sorts) saw Paul, Danny – OMPT’s helper extraordinaire – and I bundle bikes, gazebos, tools, luggage, ourselves into a van in a dimly lit back street in North London and, essentially, drive south for twelve hours. Hell of a plan, I know.
We arrived in Meribel roughly at the time we had expected to, but a little while after Martin (who had driven from his home in Switzerland and picked up Ben from Geneva airport en route). It was Thursday and Martin was waiting to get on his bike and check out the course of the inaugural Meribel World Cup.

Waiting to ride a course for the first time is like an unrelenting itch that must be scratched before you can do anything else. It’s hard to relax. But if Martin hadn’t in fact mastered the art of supressing a niggling itch, he has mastered the art of hiding his need to scratch! He was in town having a coffee when we arrived. He and Ben sauntered up the street to greet us, after which we parked up the vans and got unpacking. No particular rush, no frayed nerves or chomping at the bit. A quick and painless unpack, a swift assembly of Martin’s bike, a bite to eat and a change into kit. Less haste, more speed. Ready to go and everybody happy.

Throughout our stay in Meribel the formula was the same. Whether it be waiting for dinner, for the shower, for a mechanical issue to be resolved or asking if Ben wanted him to wait so they could ride together. I believe that Martin knows that Paul and Danny and Ben are doing their best, working hard and providing him with the best environment possible, and that he has a confidence that things will be done, and done well. He has realistic expectations and an appreciation of human limitation that I have seen other riders not understand or simply disregard.


2) He always comes bearing gifts.

Martin is a well-connected and well-liked rider within the MTB ‘peloton’. He’s surrounded by Swiss cycling stars, indeed he is one, in his home region of Graubunden. The MTB community is very strong, and especially here. Through years of competition from his home region to the World Cups, Martin has established close, and fruitful (excuse the pun), friendships. Lukas Fluckiger has a small orchard and presses his own apple juice. That was the first gift to arrive from the collective rider pantry. Next up was some pasta from Italian Champion, Eva Lechner. Martin bought wonderful home-baked bread to the party, courtesy of his beautiful and equally wonderful girlfriend, Susi. There is always something to bring, to give, to share. True, it largely revolves around food, but what greater happiness and importance for bike riders?!


3) He knows what he wants.

Olive oil, mostly. (How quickly we return to food). I have never seen anyone consume quite so much olive oil!I’m surprised he doesn’t lube his bike with it. It is drizzled, no doused, on everything from breakfast to bedtime. But not just any old olive oil. It has to be the good stuff. Filippo Berio was the sixth person in our entourage. The same goes for another favourite, balsamic vinegar. Paul’s balsamic vinegar hunts are not a smash and grab affair, oh no. The right, colour and consistency are essential. Diet is very important to Martin and he knows exactly what he wants when it comes to food. The viscosity of vinegar may sound a step too far, and perhaps in danger of roaming into diva territory, but it doesn’t come across that way in person. Beef Thursday night, chicken Friday, fish Saturday, race Sunday. Martin is serious about his diet, as you would expect from a rider of his calibre.

It may seem strange to say that such specific requests are a good thing, but it makes life easy in many ways. If a question is asked – ‘What would you like for dinner?’; ‘Do you want whole wheat pasta?’; What tyre pressure do you want to run?’; ‘What time do you want to start your warm up?’; ‘On what laps do you want your gels?’ – an answer is given. It is assured, confident, polite. There is no fuss from either party. There is experience at play here. Experience and understanding. With himself and his own needs, and with the staff at Orange Monkey. It works exceptionally well.


4) He is a role model, without really knowing it.

Martin has a pretty impressive palmares. World Cup top 10s, Swiss Championship podiums, years riding for Cannondale Factory Racing. It was a big step forward for Orange Monkey to sign such a rider, and the impact that they hoped it would have seems to have been made, certainly in terms of a figure for the younger riders to look up to. Martin’s easy but assured and decisive but not demanding way means that he quite simply gets on with what he has to do, but all the time he is setting a standard that the others follow, even if sub-consciously. His humble nature, where there is no need to be centre-of-attention, means he is probably unaware of quite how highly regarded and respected he is within the team, but as an ‘outsider’ it is clear to me what a positive impact he has.


5) He has a big smile

Martin: “First a talent with writing, and you can cook too! Will you marry me?”

Me: “Maybe we should wait a little longer, get to know each other better.”

Martin: “Okay, maybe tomorrow!”

Oh how we laughed! There was no shortage of quick wit and joking around during our time in Meribel. My cheeks ached from all the smiling, and with the thigh-slapping guffawing, my stomach muscle got the occasional work out too! Clearly this was a team very much at ease in each other’s company. Phrases lost in translation were flying all over the place but were always funny rather than frustrating.

A World Cup weekend involves a lot of sitting around for the riders, so YouTube videos and TV series are a plenty. For the Monkeys these included a demonstration of Swiss-style Euro pop and The Inbetweeners. A highly cultural exchange… but resulting in fantastic fun.

Martin is a highly focussed athlete and very professional in his approach to racing, but that doesn’t stop him being relaxed and very pleasant company. He has a big smile, full of warmth and life, and you see a lot of it. He really is a top guy.


Martin laughs (2)





Paarl Media OMX Pro Team to ride Silverback’s Superbikes

Our journey to become the World’s top team will be ridden aboard the World’s best bikes. Born and defined by speed, Silverback are the ultimate bicycle.


At Paarl Media OMX Pro Team we are honoured and very excited to announce Silverback Bikes as our official bike supplier.


Of course, as a team aiming for the very top of world mountain biking we want to be riding the very best equipment. Silverback, with their team of the brightest industry experts and unwavering dedication to produce the ultimate bike, are a perfect match for us.


The team will be riding Silverback’s Superbike Concept range which offers everything that our elite riders could want from a race machine. Silverback’s Eurobike design award for the 2015 Superbike Concept 1.0 with BURST suspension science is a testament to the company’s successful ingenuity; the riders cannot wait to test it out and ride Silverback to race success in the coming years.


Deon Retief, Owner and Founder of Silverback says, “The Paarl Media OMX Pro Team mission and vision is perfectly aligned with Silverback. We share a passion and a drive to be the best and to harness young, dynamic, world class talent. We seek out Partnerships very carefully and this one was a perfect fit. Both parties are dedicated, hard-working and totally focused on its goals and one thing is certain: Great things are to come. We are both Born to be Fast!”


We are delighted to be working with such an innovative and passionate bike manufacturer and very much look forward to our partnership with Silverback Bikes for 2015.


To take a closer look at these Superbikes and learn more about the amazing technical specifications, check out the Silverback website: http://www.silverbacklab.com/bikes/sbc-superbike-concepts/sbc-mountain-xc/


In 2004 cycling enthusiasts Will Cooper and Paul Beales had a vision to change the face of mountain biking in Britain and across the Globe, and for the team to achieve world-class status.

Ten years on, and with a string of successes under our belt, what was once a far-off dream has become a reality.

Now the journey continues with the ambition to become the World’s number one professional bike team by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Sharing our vision, enthusiasm and commitment, are headline sponsors Silverback Bikes and Paarl Media, whose backing will support the team on the road to Rio and far beyond

In 2014 the team continued to make an impression on the World stage and achieved its highest ever World ranking. This, and the nine previous seasons of graft, success and experience leads us to 2015 and the biggest change yet for the team.

As of 1st January we are rebranding as Paarl Media OMX Pro Team.

New signings, new staff, new sponsors and a new goal but with all the same passion and commitment to the sport that has seen us get to this point.

It has been, and will continue to be, an amazing journey. So please do join us – at races, through social media and our website – as we head towards Tokyo 2020.

Welcome aboard. #weareOMX


The Story So Far…


Paul Beales | Will Cooper

Ten years’ ago, Epping lads Paul Beales and Will Cooper decided to set up their own cycling team after the one run by their local Essex shop disbanded. Their goal was two-fold; to become a recognised British team and enhance the sport of mountain biking to a wider audience, bolstering its reputation.

Settling on the name Orange Monkey after a brainstorming session, within a few months they had managed to attract their first sponsor, LAS Helmets. With their bright orange kit and vocal supporters, they were quickly becoming noticed at races throughout the country, and within two years the team had grown to four.

In 2008 the team doubled in size, including three aspiring British athletes, one of whom, is still with them today. In the same year Paul and Will set up their Youth Development Programme which has gone from strength to strength, and continues to help young athletes to this day.

Two years’ later they ventured into the World Cup circuit for the first time; at the Dalby Forest race in the UK and the highly prestigious World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium.

After successes at both, there was now no turning back for the boys as they had set their sights on something even higher, embarking on a European World Cup adventure that saw them compete in Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Holland, Hungary, Cyprus and Italy.

The signing of South African athlete Rourke Croeser in 2011 and Britain’s biggest talent, David Fletcher, the following year meant that they were now a fully-fledged professional mountain bike team, and had become a force to be reckoned with.

This year they achieved their highest-ever ranking in the World team league coming in 20th place – an increase of 48 places in just three seasons.

Passion has been the driving force behind Paul and Will’s desire to propel them on this incredible journey, supported by friends, colleagues and cyclists. Each year they have aimed higher, determined to improve the sport that is so dear to their hearts, and in the process help other athletes fulfil their dreams.

Although this is now a fulltime job, they are still fired with the same enthusiasm that got the team off the ground in 2004. Continuing to set new goals, and aiming high, this journey has been a fantastic ride so far, and the next six years promise to be even more exciting as they set their sights on the highest possible goal – World number 1.