23-year-old MTB champ Ryder Hesjedal has signed a rather unusual two-team contract to race for the Subaru-Gary Fisher mountain bike team and the United States Postal Service road racing team for 2004.

Ryder is an all-rounder

While various riders have made the successful switch from mountain bike racer to road racer, no one has yet raced both road and mountain at the highest level in the same season.

So, Ryder Hesjedal’s 2004 season will be his most demanding since turning professional in 1999. Reigning NORBA National Champion and World Championship Silver Medalist in Mountain Biking, Hesjedal has the consent and cooperation of his two racing teams and their respective sponsors to race two cycling disciplines. He will focus on winning the 2004 Olympic Games MTB XC event, as well as race with the US Postal Service during the spring classics campaign.

Hesjedal’s Postal schedule will include spring racing in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium. He is slated to race some semi-classics such as Het Volk and Fleche Wallone and possibly end the campaign with a ride at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

“I look at it as being an all around better cyclist, using both mountain and road to compliment each other," said Hesjedal.

"I don’t look at either type of racing as something that I need to do exclusively. I just turned 23 and am still developing.”

Hesjedal recently completed his first US Postal training camp with his new teammates.

“One of the main things that I look for in the road is the group environment. Everyone is in the same life and has the same understanding. The energy of everybody is what I benefit from the most. I have a passion for the road and the heritage.

“Sometimes it looks like it is going to be tough to get better results. I’m always looking for new challenges, to try different things and try not to repeat the same scenario. My sponsors are really supportive of me diversifying.”

Subaru-Gary Fisher manager Tyler Pilger said:

“This guy will go down in the history books.”

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