When Aaron Gwin hangs up his racing shoes (many, many years from now), 2016 will still stand out as an important season among an already glittering career.
At the end of 2015, he walked away from the Specialized team with whom he’d wrapped up his third UCI World Cup overall title and the internet went into meltdown. Cyberspace had just about recomposed itself when he announced that he’d be riding a YT Industries bike made up of a smorgasbord of components on a team as yet to be finalised.
For many racers, this would all have been a leap too far. But not for Gwin.
A seven-man team appeared, with his former Trek boss Martin Whiteley at the helm. The YT Tues CF Pro had been a smash with the press, but had never raced at the top level. Over an amazing summer of racing, Gwin turned it into a world-beater and claimed overall World Cup number four.
But, even with a freshly won fourth title in the bag, he arrived at the Val di Sole UCI World Championships arguably in the shadow of one man; the UK’s Danny Hart.
Gwin had never won so much as a medal at the World Championships, it had always been ‘wreckers or checkers’ for the Californian. Could he overthrow Hart’s late season dominance to make 2016 even more remarkable?
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