You probably already know about the BMC Racing Team, one of the world’s most powerful professional cycling teams. Its roster boasts four World Champions, a host of National Champions, and palmarés deep enough to be the envy of any pro team. But, did you know that BMC also has a professional mountain bike team?

So how does BMC’s factory mountain bike Team stack up? New signings for the 2013 roster include two-time Olympic Champion, four-time World Champion, and World Cup winner, Julien Absalon of France. Absalon is joined by the current Eliminator World Champion, Ralph Näf (SUI), and the 2012 Cross Country World Champion runner-up, Lukas Flückiger (SUI). The reigning European Cross Country Champion, Moritz Milatz (GER), will also return to the Team for 2013. Topping of this impressive roster is American Stephen Ettinger, 2011 Cross County National Champion and USA Cycling Athlete of the Year, and newly crowned Swiss Cyclo-Cross Champion, Julien Taramarcaz.

With one of the most powerful UCI ProTour road teams, one might ask why BMC invests so heavily in mountain bike racing. The answer is really quite simple: it makes for better bikes. The BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team is every bit a mobile and exhaustive R&D department for BMC. Based on the premise that nothing provides better proof of concept than racing, the BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team is charged with testing, racing, and refining BMC’s mountain bike products. It’s their experiences and feedback that push BMC’s engineers to not just design great bikes, but great bikes that can withstand the trauma of world-class mountain bike racing. As BMC Group CEO Thomas Binggeli puts it, “Our engineers translate information gleaned from the race track directly into our development processes. They have consistent access to and feedback from our racers, so they can check individual developments on a near on-going basis for improvements in quality and performance.”

The BMC mountain bike Team also provides marketing horsepower to the BMC brand. It’s often thought that BMC is a thoroughly road-going brand, but its origins harken back to the heydays of mountain biking in the 1980s. In fact, BMC’s first bikes were innovative mountain bikes, and to this day BMC’s focus on mountain bikes and mountain bike racing is intense and dedicated. Because BMC is seen as primarily a road bike brand in many countries, having a successful, high-profile mountain bike racing team is critical to BMC’s marketing message that it builds premium high-performance bikes regardless of discipline.

In 2013, the BMC Mountain Bike Racing Team will compete in a full range of events, including traditional racing like cross country, marathon, and cyclo-cross, as well as endurance events like the Transvésubienne, which has been won twice by BMC Team rider, Françoise Bailly-Maître. To cover such diverse events, the Team has a plentiful quiver, which includes the teamelite TE01 29, fourstroke FS01 29,  and the trailfox TF01. All bikes will be equipped by Team sponsors Shimano (for wheels and components), and 3T (for cockpits).