There has been just one change to the Novus OMX Pro Team line-up this year, with Annie Last filling the gap left by Martin Gujan. That means that Shlomi, Mariske, Cherie, Martin Gluth and Isla all stay on with the team in 2016, and we are delighted to have them continue the journey with us.
Over the past year this group of riders have made strong bonds and supported each other through the trials and tribulations of elite sport. With this friendship in place, we are really excited to add more adventures and fond memories to those we experienced last year.
Shlomi is a person and athlete that is is hard not to love! His kindness, humour and dedication fitted straight into the team and he has been a superb ambassador for the team and our sponsors over the last year. His win at the HC International in Pietermaritzburg was a highlight of the season, and winning both the XCO and XCM Israeli National Championship titles was also a fantastic achievement. In 2016 the Olympics take centre stage and Shlomi is completely committed to becoming Israel’s first ever Olympic mountain biker. Watch this space!
Also gunning for Olympic qualification is our South African duo of Mariske Strauss and Cherie Vale. Mariske had a frustrating season with injuries that forced her out of competition and training. However, along with Cherie, she managed some great racing at Cape Epic, and showed her steel with a comeback race at the World Championships. Starting off the year in the same positive way at Cape Epic, Cherie then really grew as an elite rider last year. Her desire to learn and improve, alongside some impressive results – namely winning the South African National XCO Championships – showed the World that she is on the ascendency and ready to step it up again in 2016. Both these girls will be on a qualification mission early in 2016. A place at Rio will be hard to attain, but Mariske and Cherie will undoubtedly put their hearts and souls (and really big smiles) into it! We look forward to having these two popular South Africans back in the fold this year.
Isla is another of our riders who suffered from an illness and injury-ridden season. Having been one of the World’s top junior riders, Isla is a promising U23 talent. In her first year she had little chance to prove it, but 2016 looks set to be a chance to shine. If anyone has the fire in her belly to overcome obstacles and achieve great things, it’s Firegirl herself!
Lastly, it’s a great pleasure to have Martin Gluth stay with the team for 2016. Martin is so easy to be around, at leisure and when it comes to race time. He is meticulous and focussed yet relaxed and fun. In 2015 Martin had a really solid season with a consistent World Cup campaign, podiums in South Africa and Germany, and a flair that shows real promise for the coming years.
All in all we are very happy with the composition of Team 2016. We have great riders and great people together in a professional but really fun environment. It looks like a good recipe for success!
Read more about our fantastic riders in their OMX Rider Bios, here.