The 2024 MAAP Privateer Program

Unlike professional teams backed by major sponsors, privateers operate on their own, embodying the true spirit of independence and adventure. Driven by passion and a love for the sport, these athletes embrace the rugged, unpredictable nature of gravel racing. United by a shared purpose to push boundaries and inspire others to do the same. 

They navigate the international circuit mostly without the support of traditional professional team infrastructure, facing the challenges of managing partners and their career while simultaneously chasing down greatness. Travelling from race to race, the pressure to show up to each start line and perform to their potential is relentless. Being an elite racer is the day job; they must also juggle the multi-discipline roles of physiotherapist, sports agent, team doctor, travel agent and nutritionist. And for some, that life is also balanced with off-bike endeavours such as full-time education and other income streams to keep afloat. It's a whole other level of dedication that few can truly grasp.

At MAAP, we like to think that these riders are not truly alone. Back for a new season, the MAAP Privateers Program was created to provide crucial support to those deeply committed to their craft.  These elite riders, while independently spirited, are bolstered by a community of racing fans who cheer them on every step of the way. This year's field is a mix of familiar faces and fresh talents, all driven by the unwavering determination to be the best versions of themselves on and off the bike. With some remarkable achievements already under their belts, this year's squad is ready to make its mark on the season ahead.

Freddy Ovett
Nationality: British / Australian
Discipline: Gravel, Esports

Ovett was born to compete on the world stage. His journey to the bike is a testament to his lineage as a true competitor. As son of Olympic middle-distance legend Steve Ovett, Freddy's early years were marked by his own talent for running. However, when faced with a series of setbacks due to injuries, he pivoted from two legs to two wheels and hasn't looked back.

Since switching to cycling, Freddy's trajectory has been nothing short of impressive. From earning opportunities as a stagiaire with the prestigious UCI WorldTeam BMC Racing Team and UCI Professional Continental team Israel Cycling Academy, to clinching a remarkable second place at the UCI Esports World Championships in 2022, he's continued that momentum into this year.

Freddy's ability in the arena of Esports was once again on show as he became the Wahoo Overall Zwift Games Champion 2024. There's an incredibly strong calibre of rider in virtual events and while gravel remains his primary focus, it's a type of racing that Ovett clearly relishes - "Winning for me seemed quite a stretch with my shift to wanting to succeed in the longer gravel races, sacrificing raw power for endurance…but I managed to take a memorable win on the Alpe and, in turn, win the overall." Back outside, after a mechanical derailed his Traka, undeterred, Freddy's got the rest of the gravel season firmly in his sights.

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Haley Smith
Nationality: Canadian
Discipline: Gravel, Cyclo-cross.

Haley, the epitome of what it takes to succeed as a privateer, embodies the essence of a positive mentality with a focus on self-improvement. A beacon of mental health advocacy and a decorated athlete to boot, her achievements include making the Canadian team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a Commonwealth Games, and World Cup Bronze Medals. Yet her journey is not just about personal sporting achievement but also about supporting others, driven by a relentless determination to reshape the narrative around mental health and elite performance.

With a background in kinesiology and a master's in sport psychology, Hayley's dedication extends far beyond the track. Whether she's riding, studying, or sharing her experiences in schools and corporate seminars, her message is profound - "as an anorexia survivor, I combine my unique sport, life, and educational experience to connect with people and organisations on a deeper level". With Paris 2024 in her sights, it's fair to say Hayley's mission transcends mere victories; she's on a quest to uplift and empower others, leaving an indelible impression on the world far beyond the realm of sport.

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Russell “Finsty” Finsterwald
Nationality: American
Discipline: Gravel

Russel "Finsty" Finsterwald loves racking up wins and getting out for seriously epic adventures with his close friends and fellow competitors. He transitioned to gravel in 2019 after a stellar mountain biking career hauled in five U.S. national titles, including an XC Marathon National Championship. In 2022, Finsty triumphed at Big Sugar and took a second-place finish the year before in the formidable LeadBoat Challenge, two endurance races that take place in the Rocky Mountains on the same weekend, with nearly 13 hours and 250 miles of intense racing at SBT Gravel and the Leadville Trail 100 MTB.

Last year, he finished fourth overall in the Lifetime Grand Prix standings before adding the Belgian Waffle Ride crown to his sizable trophy cabinet. Looking ahead, Russell is setting his sights on conquering ultra-endurance and bikepacking races, driven by his ability to absolutely beast it on the bike.

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Ama Nsek
Nationality: American
Discipline: Road, Crit Racing, MTB.

Ama is carving out his own path as a privateer, determined to leave a legacy that inspires generations to come. With titles in the bag like the 2022 Collegiate Champ and back-to-back Cat 1 RR National Champ in both '22 and '23, he's no stranger to the top step. Yet, his journey isn't just about personal triumphs; it's about lifting others along the way. The new-gen helping the next-gen.

Having started racing bikes at the tender age of 12 with his brother, Ama, now 24, is a trailblazer in more ways than one. As a first-generation college student, he understands the importance of paving the way for those who come after him. His mission? To share his wealth of experience with aspiring riders, guiding them through the highs and lows of professional racing. By 2021, Ama was already mentoring over 40 young athletes, providing them with a platform to chase their dreams while navigating the challenges of school and the trials of being a teenager (we've all been there). Like Hayley, he recognises the significance of mental well-being in sport, and he's committed to fostering a community that prioritises a more holistic approach to racing.

Ama's path isn't just about the podium finishes; it's about building a community of empowered riders who understand the importance of resilience, perseverance, and teamwork. That impact is felt far beyond racing. And at just 24 years of age, there’s a lot more ahead for Ama.

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Ivar Slik
Nationality: Dutch
Discipline: Gravel

From Euro young gun to one of the gravel greats, Ivar Slik started his cycling odyssey on mountain trails as a kid before building his experience in the ranks of pro-continental teams. Competing as a privateer, 2022 was his breakout year, claiming victory at the Unbound 200, a feat no non-American had accomplished before. His racing prowess is undeniable, boasting an impressive track record of wins both in the US and across Europe, including a first-place finish at The Traka 200.

It's not just the gravel where Ivar shines; when he was on the continental circuit, he recorded four UCI pro tour wins and a European championship on the sand. He regularly likes to add beach racing to switch up the schedule, but it's proving himself again and again on unpaved grounds where he feels most at home - "I fell in love again with off-road racing where it once all started. I really love to discover new hidden roads while training with friends on a bike that's fit for purpose." Few are fitter than Ivar when he rolls up to the start line. 2024 promises to be one of his strongest seasons yet.

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Rosa Klöser
Nationality: German
Discipline: Gravel

Rounding out the privateer list for 2024, Rosa Klöser is a force to be reckoned with. Seamlessly balancing her passion for gravel racing with her pursuit of academic excellence as she works towards her PHD in Green Shipping at the Copenhagen Business School. Despite her demanding scholarly commitments, Rosa has already made an impact, bursting onto the scene during her inaugural privateer season in 2023, showcasing her talent both locally and on the European stage.

2024 has built on that first taste of success, with Rosa battling a talented field to take a podium at this year's Traka 200. Reliving the awesome achievement - "I had a great start but made a stupid mistake on the second climb, forcing me to dismount and run. After seeing the lead women ride away from me while trying to run up the 22% hill, I hit a motivational and physical low. Fortunately, the cheering crowds carried me through it and I managed to pick up the pace on the longest climb, now overtaking rider after rider again. Finished it off with an almost solo 80k TT to claim the last podium spot and came in third! Happy to see that the shape is there, leaving me optimistic for more results in the upcoming races." No doubt that's just the springboard for more podiums in Rosa’s near future

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The MAAP Privateer-edition
Pro-fit Jersey Capsule

To support Rosa, Freddy, Ivar, Russell, Ama and Hayley in the year ahead, each rider has been outfitted with a custom kit program by MAAP Pro Team Racing, designed to serve their unique styles and demands while racing.. You too can show your support by repping the Privateers 2024 capsule, available now on, and following each rider on the 'gram to cheer them on from afar (or even better, hollering from the sidelines at their next race meet). Because while they may compete as individuals, they are united by a shared purpose, and together, we can all form an integral part of their support team, propelling them further. We're all psyched to see how the rest of the season unfolds.

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