2022 TFR Downhill is raising the level

Meet the 2022 TFR DH squad and see the new look!

The Trek Factory Racing Downhill squad’s 2021 season was a thrill ride of euphoric highs and gripping drama. All-in-all it was a ripping good time. So good that Reece Wilson, Loris Vergier, Kade Edwards and Charlie Harrison are running it back with TFR for 2022. (And with a fresh bike and kit, of course.)

Their accomplishments:

In between those highlights were countless learning opportunities for what is still a young squad — Vergier, who will turn 26 in May, is the team’s oldest rider and “grizzled” veteran. Each rider showed off what makes them such tantalizingly good athletes here and now, and at the same time teased how much higher they can still climb.

The boys in their black training kits.

Reece showing off the white racing kit and new bike.

Andrew Shandro oversees the riders. He knows talent — he was one himself, winning two downhill World Cups. And he can’t wait to see how the riders build on their development in 2022. He believes that last season may have been a launchpad for all four riders, provided they continue to push themselves. 

“They’re very well supported on a factory team, with the resources, staff and equipment, and everything,” Shandros says. “But ultimately, you need to be responsible to try to get yourself to that next level too.”

The riders’ kits play on the QR codes that have become ubiquitous in the modern world. They’ll be wearing black kits for training, and white kits for race days. 

Shandro gave his singular perspective on the team culture and all four riders as they prepare for a World Cup gauntlet of eight races, beginning in Lourdes at the end of March.

Kade making shapes.

Raising the level

Loris Vergier was the big story heading into 2021. He joined Trek Factory Racing after winning two World Cup races in 2020 and finishing as the sport’s No. 2 overall elite men’s rider. 

Shandro was confident that Vergier would mesh well with the team, but he had to see for himself to be sure. Introducing a new, elite rider into a well-established small team dynamic could have created fissures. Instead, Vergier seamlessly transitioned into the team, and at the same time helped raise the level of competitive excellence. Paired with defending world champion Wilson, TFR suddenly had two riders who would be among the favorites at every race they entered.

“I think just having that level of athlete on your program is going to ultimately raise the team’s level a little bit,” Shandro says. “He’s constantly working to find that little bit of time with his equipment, and always striving for that little bit more.”

What's going on over there?

Loris making mincemeat of that berm.

TFR’s secret sauce is openness. Because downhill racing is an individual sport, it can also feel guarded. If a rider finds a unique line that shaves fractions of a second from their run, they’ll usually keep that information for themself. But if a team dynamic is strong enough, riders will be more willing to share their scouting. And a rising tide of knowledge lifts all ships.

“We stress that with our athletes and our mechanics even. Like, ‘Hey, listen, if one of our guys does well, it’s good for all of us,'” Shandro says. “And it really is. It makes it easier to ask for resources from Trek to keep trying to win and progress. That’s openly communicated because from my standpoint, if you have everybody working together, and you’re there for people’s successes and failures, ultimately everything’s going to work out.”

Edwards was perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Vergier’s added knowledge and experience. He’s the youngest member of the team, just recently turning 22, but he’s also the most uniquely talented. He’s a powerful, high-flying rider with slopestyle flair, and a grand entertainer both on and off the bike.

If you have everybody working together, and you're there for people's successes and failures, ultimately everything's going to work out.

- Andrew Shandro

Kade’s talent and pure love of riding is infectious within the program. He’s still getting faster in downhill races as he targets top 10 finishes. 

“Coming out of team camp in Portugal I saw a new focus out of him,” Shandro says. “Because with racing, if you’re trying to be a top World Cup athlete, you have to be all in.”

Like Edwards, Harrison is learning consistency. He has already shown that, at his best, he can finish among downhill’s fastest riders. Unfortunately, a broken arm in Leogang last June did him no favors, but he returned to World Cup racing in August and closed the season well with an eighth place finish in the first of two races in Snowshoe.

It's exactly what it looks like.

Chuck's on his way.

According to Shandro, Harrison is pushing himself to become a more versatile downhill rider. He’s mastered the rough and dry terrain of his native Southern California. Ahead of the first World Cup race in Lourdes, he’ll be spending time in Wales on muddy tracks to get even more accustomed to European racing.

“He’s investing in himself,” Shandro says. “He’s focusing on making himself a better athlete and rider so he can be more consistent throughout the season. It’s just figuring out those little minutiae, the little details.”

Wilson and Vergier both have legitimate ambitions to stand atop the World Cup overall podium in Val di Sole this September. Shandro sees similar characteristics in both of them — maturity on and off the bike, and strong, self-assured riding styles.

So smooth.

On a mission.

Wilson’s first ever World Cup win in Snowshoe was particularly impressive because of how he bounced back from a bad crash in Les Gets. After Snowshoe, he admitted that “a massive crash, it does a lot to your head.” But he worked steadfastly to regain his confidence, and was repaid with a career milestone.

“Prior to him winning Worlds, I felt very confident that we hadn’t seen the best in Reece yet,” Shandro says. “He’s changed a lot in the last year. His maturity level, how he’s thinking about it and his approach. So for him to win at Snowshoe on a very foreign track — it’s not really his style, I would say — was very impressive. I think that was a big turning point for him.”

The mental aspects of downhill racing can’t be diminished. Last year, Vergier entered the last race of the season — the second race of a doubleheader in Snowshoe — in first place in the overall standings, well positioned to achieve a major career goal. But his final run didn’t go as planned. He went out of the gate hot, and slipped several times on the course to finish 54th on the day and drop to third overall.

Nothing keeps Loris down.

Maybe you've heard of them.

“Loris’ focus is not any different going into the season. He’s trying to win every race he goes in, just like everybody else,” Shandro says. “But I think he knows what he needs to do differently when you get into that situation towards the end of the season and you’re leading the World Cup, or you’re in second. He was maybe thinking about the result, and that could have distracted him from riding his own race.”

None of TFR’s riders have found their ceilings, which makes the 2022 season particularly enticing. Year-over-year continuity should only be a boon. Shandro felt that the 2021 season was perhaps the first in which the TFR DH program, which only began in 2019, didn’t experience any growing pains. Everyone involved in the operation seems to have found their groove. 

That’s not to say that the season didn’t have its challenges, nor that 2022 will be smooth. But more than ever, the team’s riders and crew feel they have little to worry about outside of getting faster on their bikes every single day.

Get ready for good times.

Let's ride.

“We’re always trying to progress as a team,” Shandro says. “We’re fortunate we have the crew of people we do, and it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come in a short period of time.

“We’ll see what ’22 brings. I have no doubt that we can have the same results. And whether it happens, we will do everything we can to give our guys the best chance of winning. And then it’s up to them to ride down the track.”