Kiwis and Stars and Stripes, this could be the best way to sum up the latest addition to Playbiker – Iron Horse’s 2008 roster, which includes two riders from New Zealand and one from the USA, making the team a truly global sensation.

The first name, which will sound familiar to many, is that of Nathan Rankin, 28 years old, from Levin, New Zealand, already widely known on the World Cup circuit and also in Europe: his 2008 has started strong, with his victory in the South Island Cup in New Zealand, which reaffirmed his excellent condition and skills. His impressive experience in the racing world will find a powerful outlet while being placed in an international team like Playbiker – Iron Horse, and at the same time it will be very useful as a guide for the younger riders in the team. Nathan is a true expert of the international downhill scene and he has won the New Zealand national series for four years in a row: an experienced rider, who year by year has always found new reasons to go even faster. And his best season is yet to come.

Geoff Ulmer, 17 years old, out of Troy (New York). US National Champion in his age class, Geoff earned the national team’s jersey and a ticket to the Worlds in Val di Sole months in advance, thanks to his great results in the past season and top level racing schedule for 2008, which includes most of the World Cup series. He’s the only junior rider in the USA who has been automatically advanced to “Pro” class by USA Cycling.

Completing the team comes Mike Skinner, 20 years old, from Auckland, New Zealand. Mike has already spent several seasons in Europe and is a common name in the high ranks of World Cup finals. His trademark style has earned him a video part in the European production “Re-Focus”.

Saladini leads. World Cup 4X, Maribor, Slovenia

Nathank Rankin: “After having spent last season in Europe and having raced a lot in Italy I am really happy to be with the sole international team based in Italy, this will put me in the best possible condition to tackle the next racing season while concentrating only on what counts more, the race results. Being part of such a big and well organized team is a big advantage for any rider, specially for somebody who, like me, has to move to Europe for the whole season.”

Team manager Romano Favoino: “These three riders are an excellent addition to our team’s roster. Nathan is a guarantee, his name is always high in the rankings and with his experience and knowledge he will be an excellent guide for the younger riders. We have followed his results in the early season races in New Zealand with great attention, and we are sure he’s going to have a great season. Mike is the quintessential young kiwi racer, all facts and no talk: last season we had the chance to know him well since he was often over in Italy and we are happy to support him in 2008, allowing him to fulfill his full potential. Finally I am really proud to have a rider from the USA in our team: Geoff is as fast as much as he is enthusiastic for the new experience he is about to live. I am sure he will make the most out of his first big chance on the international scene, keep an eye on him!”.

Here is the full roster for team Playbiker – Iron Horse in 2008: Floriane Pugin, Adam Brayton, Nathan Rankin, Geoff Ulmer, Mike Skinner, Elisa Canepa, Lorenzo Suding, Luca Bertocchi, Matthias Stonig. Nine riders coming from six different countries on three continents, a truly global team. Taking care of the team’s riders, along with team manager Romano Favoino and road manager Simon Cittati, will be mechanic Tiziano Mammana, who, after his first season with the team, has also been selected as a mechanic for the Italian National downhill team.

Playbiker – Iron Horse has already confirmed its partnership with the prestigious companies with whom it had already worked last season: Iron Horse Bicycles, e.thirteen components, Formula brakes, Kenda, Funn and RMS Component Selection. The other sponsors will be announced shortly, but the newest additions include A-Class Wheels and Alex Rims, SRAM, Rock Shox, UFO Plast and Insight Productions.