Trackside, the latest Shimano Originals short film by Anthill Films, uncovers the winning formula of one of the greatest downhill mountain bike teams of all time: the Santa Cruz Syndicate. After struggling with retiring from racing, legend and Head Coach Steve Peat continues to steer the ship into a new format this season while preserving the Syndicate's secret sauce.
Widely regarded as the longest-running and most successful band of downhill personalities the sport has ever seen, the Santa Cruz Syndicate continues to prove its status on the World Cup circuit. Currently comprised of the GOAT Greg Minnaar, first-year elite Jackson Goldstone, laid-back lightning bolt Laurie Greenland, and the first woman on the Syndicate Nina Hoffman, the Syndicate's roster is stacked with talent. But is their success purely down to individual athletes, seamless logistics and the perfect steed?
Looking at athletes at the top of the sport, we often assume they have their lives dialled. They're considered role models: disciplined, confident and successful. But as sportsmen and women, they can still struggle with what comes next. For Steve Peat—who initially joined the Syndicate in 2006 and is still one of the most successful DH racers ever—retiring from racing posed many questions. Diving into the low point in his career, we reveal how Peaty's struggle and transition to Syndicate Head Coach has filled the void of not racing World Cups. Now, he brings his wisdom, personality and stories to the team, not just his performance on the bike.
I stayed linked closely with Santa Cruz as an ambassador and the Syndicate by helping them at races. Luckily, that's turned into something that's really fulfilling.
Setting a family vibe from the get-go, the Syndicate’s group dynamic is what sets them apart. How each person and rider fit into the team is crucial and enables them to unlock another level of performance. You wouldn't necessarily expect this kind of sports strategy in mountain biking, but it points to how the Syndicate has led the way of being a professional team without sucking the soul out of the sport. At the heart of it, they’re just traveling to beautiful places with close friends and trying to go fast on bikes.
As the UCI Downhill World Cup calendar enters a new season under new management, Peaty is excited about where the sport has ended up and where it's going. No one knows the outcome of the changes yet, but team strategy and consistency are likely the route to success—something the Syndicate has going for it. With Peaty at the helm, can they maintain their run of results and come out on top in 2023?
Written, Directed and Produced by Anthill Films
Director: Colin Jones &Matt Butterworth
Editor: Matt Butterworth
Producers: Scott Jewett & Daisy Maddinson
Cinematography: Matt Butterworth, Colin Jones, Chris Seager & Steel City Media
Sound Recording & Design: Jo Osborne
Archive Footage: The Collection & Clay Porter
Additional interviews: Jim Topliss
Colour Grade: Gary Shaw
Still Photography: Sven Martin
Photography: Sven Martin
Words: Daisy Maddinson