With the start of the 2024 race season approaching, the Giant Factory Off-Road Team announced its new roster including a well-rounded collection of XC, downhill and enduro athletes. With a strong mix of young talent and proven veterans, the squad is targeting major international events around the world with a focus on UCI World Cup races.
Last year was a season of change for the team as it revamped its XC squad, brought on new downhill talent, and launched the new Glory Advanced DH bike to support that effort. The changes paid off as the team collected World Cup wins and national titles in XC racing, made a return to the World Cup podium and won another national title in DH, and scored two wins in the inaugural UCI Enduro World Cup series. In the end, it was one of the most successful years in the team’s long history.
The core of the team remains intact this year with its well-rounded roster of World Cup winners and national champions plus two new riders: Under-23 XC racer Dario Lillo of Switzerland, and Under-21 enduro racer Sascha Kim of Australia.
“We’re coming off an exciting 2023 season when half of the roster was new at the start of the year,” said Giant Factory Off-Road Team Manager Sebastian Boyington. “Seeing both the new and returning athletes achieve success last year demonstrates the strength of this team’s direction and its ability to adapt and change. This year we are evolving once again as we welcome two new young athletes.”
In XC racing, Canadian Carter Woods is back following a breakout season in the U23 ranks that saw him win multiple World Cup races and finish top-three overall in both Olympic cross-country (XCO) and short-track (XCC). Woods also won Elite Men’s XC and short-track national titles in Canada. This year the 22-year-old looks to continue that momentum as he moves up to the Elite Men’s category in the World Cup.
Also returning to the XC squad this year is Belgian Jens Schuermans. The two-time Olympian had a strong first year with the team in 2023, highlighted by a top-five overall finish in the Elite Men’s World Cup XCC series. Between XCO and XCC World Cups, Schuermans scored seven top-10 finishes.
Woods and Schuermans will be joined by newcomer Dario Lillo, a 21-year-old who finished top-five overall last year in both the XCO and XCC U23 World Cup series including a double win on home turf in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. Lillo is also the current U23 Swiss national champion and last year finished on the podium at both the World Championships and the European Championships.
“This will be Dario’s last year racing in U23 and his goal is to win the overall,” Boyington said. “We’re pumped to be a part of that effort and to support him as he moves up to the Elite Men’s category in 2025 with his teammates Carter and Jens.”
All three XC athletes have their choice of race bikes depending on conditions and terrain. The Anthem Advanced 29 full-suspension bike is the go-to machine for technical courses and the XtC Advanced SL 29 hardtail is the choice for smooth, fast XC tracks.
DH and Enduro
On the gravity racing side, Luke and Remy Meier-Smith, Australian brothers who excel in both DH and enduro racing, are back following a successful first season with the team in 2023. Older brother Luke wasted no time making an impact, winning the Australian Elite Men’s DH national championship last February. A few weeks later he made history when he won the first-ever World Cup enduro race at the season opener in Tasmania. Racing an Elite Men’s World Cup for the first time, the-20-year-old stunned the field with the win.
Luke’s younger brother Remy also had a solid first year with the team, scoring several impressive World Cup DH results including a top-10 in the Elite Men’s class at age 18. Remy also landed a U21 podium at the World Cup EDR opener in Tasmania last year.
The Meier-Smith brothers join returning DH veteran Rémi Thirion. The 33-year-old French rider has seven career World Cup podiums to his name, including one win. Thirion had to fight through injuries last year, including a concussion sustained in a crash at the European Championships that caused him to miss several World Cup rounds, but he came on strong in the second half of the season and scored a podium at Round 5 in Loudenvielle, France.
Thirion and the Meier-Smith brothers will be racing primarily on the new Glory Advanced DH bike, which was developed with the team and introduced to the market last year.
The enduro squad sees the return of French rider Youn Deniaud, who had a career-best season in 2023 including his first World Cup win in Loudenvielle. Deniaud has been a consistent frontrunner with the team over the past few years and is once again aiming for wins and a top overall World Cup finish in 2024.
The enduro squad also welcomes Sascha Kim, a 19-year-old up-and-comer from Australia.
“Sascha caught a lot of eyes in 2023 when he won the first two U21 EDR World Cups in March,” Boyington said. “Later he proved that those wins in Tasmania weren’t just a home track advantage when he landed two more podiums in Austria and France. We’re excited to have Sascha join Youn this year and beyond as he moves up to the Elite category.”
Both Deniaud and Kim will compete primarily on their Reign Advanced race bikes, along with shorter travel Trance X Advanced 29 trail bikes for select events. In addition, all athletes will ride and train with Giant E-bikes including the Trance X Advanced E+ and Trance X Advanced E+ Elite.
Another personnel change sees longtime Giant Factory Off-Road Team rider Mckay Vezina making the transition from athlete to staff member. The Canadian will support the gravity squad behind the tape as their performance coach.
On the technical front, the team welcomes back most of its sponsors from 2023 including FOX suspension products, Maxxis tires, Shimano drivetrain and brake components, MRP chain guides, HT pedals, and PRO cockpit components. Additional components and gear include Giant WheelSystems, saddles and accessories including the Clutch tool system.
On the apparel side, the team continues its partnership with Cuore of Switzerland. New XC, enduro and DH kits for the 2024 season will be unveiled in April. 100% will supply full-face helmets, body protection, eyewear and gloves, while Giant supplies other helmets including the Rev Pro for XC and the Rail and Realm for trail/enduro. Giant also supplies footwear including the Charge Pro XC shoe.
2024 Giant Factory Off-Road Team
Youn Deniaud (FRA), Enduro
Sascha Kim (Aus), Enduro
Dario Lillo (SUI), XC
Luke Meier-Smith (AUS), DH
Remy Meier-Smith (AUS), DH
Jens Schuermans (BEL), XC
Rémi Thirion (FRA), DH
Carter Woods (CAN), XC
2024 Giant Factory Off-Road Team sponsors
Suspension forks/shocks: FOX
Drivetrain & Brakes: Shimano
Saddle: Giant and PRO
Chain guides: MRP
Tire insert: CushCore
Cycling shoes: Giant
Race kits: Cuore
Cycling eyewear: 100%
Helmet: Giant & 100% (full-face)
Other: Park Tool, Finish Line lube and cleaning products, Stan’s tire sealant, GoPro cameras, Thule gear