For the second time in as many seasons, Finn Iles will sport some new colours heading into the competitive season.
The 16-year-old downhill rider will suit up to represent Specialized in 2016 after the company announced it had partnered with Pure Agency to create the new Specialized Gravity Team. Iles, along with 2015 World Champion Loic Bruni and 2014 Junior World Champion Loris Vergier, represented Lapierre Gravity Republic in 2015. All three are making the move to Specialized.
"Our team's (Pure Agency) contract with Lapierre was going to run out next year and our team was looking for a new bike company to ride for," Iles explained. "We were in negotiations with a few companies but Specialized seemed like the best choice. We moved as a team so Loic, Loris, the mechanics, we all moved together.
"It's pretty exciting to be on a different bike but stay with the same guys."
Iles acknowledged he was caught a little off-guard by the agreement, but was more than satisfied after discovering the ink had dried and he'll be on the squad for the next two seasons.
"I didn't really think it was an option because they had such a solid team before," he said. "But if I had to choose, that would definitely be one of my top choices. I'm really excited to be able to work with them.
"It's going to be a really good opportunity for me to be involved with one of the biggest brands in the sport. There are lots of possibilities."
Pure Agency manager Laurent Delorme explained the chance for the riders to associate themselves with Specialized was too good to pass up.
"The opportunity was unique, because we had the chance to keep the same working process with same staff and riders. They understood that a good result is not just a good athlete or the best bike, but also a great atmosphere, where everybody in the team is able to make his own contribution to perform. To be honest, we also had another good financial offer, a higher one, but it was definitely a different way of work, and it was not the first choice of the key guys in the team," Delorme explained in a release.
The new members will all be riding the S-Works Demo 8 carbon downhill race frame, and Iles is looking forward to taking it into competitive action.
"It's exciting because it's probably one of my favourite bikes and it's one of the best-looking," he said. "It's cool to be able to ride it."
The team will unite in California later this month for their first meeting since the agreement was signed.
"We're going to go down at the end of January, start of February to meet all the guys from Specialized and shoot a video," he said.