Aaron Gwin: Karma vs Drama

Jan 9, 2013 at 2:24
Jan 9, 2013
by Matt Wragg  
 
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On a day like yesterday we are reminded how blessedly small the world of mountain biking is. The announcement that Gwin has signed for Specialized, and not Trek as most people, including Trek, thought he would caused uproar. There were angry press releases talking about legal action, people denouncing Specialized as immoral and general confusion about what the hell a letter of intent actually is.

Stopping to take a look outside our little world the response to this calamitous news was resounding indifference. Here in the UK, the BBC website had nary a mention of the MTB drama, opting instead to give precedence to a lady who races around an oval on a fixed-wheel bike having a baby. The only mountain bike news in sight is the reporting on the genuinely tragic death of Burry Stander. What the BBC website also has is a whole section devoted to Formula One, a sport many of us here at Pinkbike are fans of. In that world, this kind of team jumping doesn't even raise an eyebrow. It's not unheard of for a team to buy a driver out from the middle of a contract, let alone after a mere letter of intent, a document holding the legal weight of a damp towel in the face of a well-funded legal team. Rumours fly about such letters, will the current champion, Sebastian Vettel, move to Ferrari at some unspecified point in the future? There's a whole legal soap opera behind the scenes and it's fun to watch and speculate on occasionally, but again, it's all part and parcel of the F1 race scene.

Brake trouble Crash World Champs chances in the rubbish bid Screw it...Gwin throwing down a signature move not seen on a finishing straight since his debut at Mt St Anne a few years or so ago.

Would I as a mountain biker want to live in that world every day though? In a word, no. One of the things I like about mountain biking is that it's not a big, serious corporate sport. The very fact that this signing has generated so much debate is reassuring that our little world remains just that, little. Maybe this is an omen of a world to come for us. While it is nice to see our sport grow, can we keep that sense of community for just a bit longer, please?

There is another side to this small-town world, a negative one. Collectively we seem to forget that racing is a job and that companies want the best possible representatives for their products. Racers have short careers, a limited lifespan that could be cut short tomorrow by injury. In skateboarding they talk about The Window, the golden time between 19 and 24 when skaters can do great things. Even legends like Eric Koston today merely limp on in the shadow of his former self at his peak, brief months of other worldly brilliance they can now only imitate.

Gwin clearly saw a job he wanted more than the one he was being offered. Whether it was a financial, technical or moral decision, we may never know, but how many of us would truly walk away from a better job? It's his employer he left, not his family. If Specialized needed a lead rider and felt Gwin was the best possible ambassador for their products, why not take an opportunity to sign him? There's also an argument that Trek World Racing were foolish to tout his position on the team as solid before pen had touched paper. None of it matters at the end of the day, Trek will find someone else to lead their team this year, Gwin will ride a different bicycle and we will all continue to focus on the cursory instead of the meaningful. Why does the drama always take centre stage?

Look at a rider like Matti Lehikoinen. He's had the worst luck in mountain biking, the form he showed back in 2007 has never returned. Each time it looked like he was finding that pace, something brutal knocked him back down again. A friend ran into him pre-season testing in Spain last year, recovering from his latest stomach-churning crash. I'll never forget the creeping feeling of horror I felt as my friend described how Matti had to have an emergency tracheotomy to stop him drowning on his own blood there at the side of the race course. How he even got back to race a World Cup after that is nothing less than inspirational, yet no one is addressing that.


The brutal truth is that Lehikoinen never found that pace again. CRC wanted him to lead their team and he couldn't, he didn't. Simmonds and Smith both out-performed him. When it came time to choose their new lead rider, CRC made the decision that they needed someone who they were sure would be at the sharp end of the field, and Matti was dropped. In all the talk about Sam Hill moving over, I saw barely a comment about Matti, it seemed accepted as part and parcel of the reality of racing. Trek are a successful company and their racing program is strong and well-funded. They will deal with this and you'd be a fool to bet against seeing one of their riders on the top step of a podium before too long. So why is there more comment when they lose a rider than when a man who deserves our full respect loses his ride? It was just a job, right?

Aaron Gwin and Matti Lehikoinen are two sides of the same coin: one riding high on record-breaking form, the other slowly slipping from view, weighed down by the screws, plates and strips that rebuilt his broken body. If we can easily accept the harsh realities Matti and riders like him face, we should understand why Gwin is making the most of his fragile moments at the top of our sport.

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324 Comments

  • + 378
 Finally some rational thoughts about the latest shit-hitting-the fan (pun intended). Thanks for that!
  • + 46
 Great read! It's a 'job' How many places have I worked where people have signed contracts, and left to travel over seas..... people that have signed and before they have even started have called because they got a better job elsewhere... Gwin is doing a 'job' any way you look at it, and he is choosing what he believes is best for him.... fair enough
  • + 188
 Sorry, but I fail to see how any of the events in the last couple days are in any way bad for racing or just the mountain bike experience in general.

Nothing bad happened, no trails got shut down, nobody got physically hurt, and nobody quit the sport because of it. Sure people talked some crap on the internet, but it hasn't affected the sport in any negative way, and relatively few people read it all anyways. Most people are just reading and writing stuff for entertainment anyways. And whats this crap talk about losing a sense of community? People sharing ideas with each other about why Gwin left Trek is in itself the embodiment of a community. And most of the exchanges are polite, people haven't been cussing at each other or anything like that.

Nothing Happened! Quit gettingall sentimental and pretending the sport has lost it's soul, or it's not the same anymore just because one racer switched teams. Nothing changed, mountain biking is just like it used to be.

Drop the "holy'er than thou" and admit that while riding rules, talking bout racing and rumors is also fun.
  • + 187
 Fuck all this team swapping stuff.... The biggest surprise out of all this is that Protour is writing some pretty decent comments. 10 Internet points for you Protour and Well Done !
  • + 41
 Bloody hell he's right.
  • + 29
 Protour always did write good stuff just a lot of folk didnt like or agree with it, myself included sometimes. But you miss him when he isn't on, so dont complain to much if you dont like what he's saying
  • + 4
 I honestly dont see why Gwin going to specialized is a big deal? People have been switching teams since the beginning, whys it such a big deal now? Just my 2 cents.
  • + 8
 I suppose it's only a big deal because some butthurt TWR guys are attempting to make it a big deal. IMO it doesn't really help their cause as it just looks like they're being all bitchy and tryna bring Gwinny down with em. Not that it's really the end of their team now that he's gone.
  • + 2
 Bravo, Protour. It is the reality of what happened and still have yet to hear Gwin's side, not that he owe's anyone an explanation. He's a guy who just changed jobs and it shows how as community how passionate we are. Racing is just a tiny part of our sport. It doesn't define why we ride. I think the article is way off.
  • + 20
 Protour, I knew you had it in ya. Bravo.
  • + 15
 I miss the days of Protour saying really... well... wrong, stuff. But everything has to change at some point i guess, even if some people don't like it.

^^^yes that is a metaphor^^^
  • + 0
 I have to agree with Protour, common, why the XC side or the road side of this sport gets highlines (at least in our sport aka village)...? Because this type of stuff is written by journalist, they know that in terms for this to be on the hype, they need discusions...how do you get people to discussions? Well, by doing this, controversy, opinions and more opinions...Just like Protour said, at the end of the day, everybody will go to be and pee their pants while dreaming they can get this attention...to the companies, is "free" advertising, for the riders, is to be in the spot in a sport that is only lasting 4-5months of the year....

Our sport needs badly real journalism...those that can get out and find stories where you have no clue they are, so people get on it....
  • + 4
 Protour forgot that something bad actually did happened to a particular Burry Stander, but other than that I applaud his comment.
  • + 5
 Wait, no, go down the page and see the trail of destruction that he has left in his wake. Reckless
  • + 35
 I have a sneaky suspicion that Protour is Aron Gwin. It's alright protour, you can come out now.
  • + 6
 I used to think Protour was an ass-0, but now he comes out with some really well thought statements and opinions that could have come from Ghandi...You guys must have some good weed up there to mellow him out....Thanks Protour, you've inspired me to kick the negativity out of my life as well
  • + 4
 Give Protour some credit. It is the new year after all.......
  • + 2
 Wish i could prop this 100 times.
  • + 21
 I think the logic behind Protour's latest comments come from the fact that he is still drunk from New Years Smile
  • + 9
 That's probably the best article I've read on Pinkbike ever. Short and devastatingly true. Ouch.
  • + 11
 Maybe I'm living in a dream world, but what happen to integrity? If you have signed a letter of intent, regardless of its legal ramifications, don't you think you should stand behind what you have said. Many years ago a hand shake was more then enough to warrant a binding contract, and if u broke that contract you were hung. By no means am I saying someone should be hung, I'm just disappointed. I guess all the talk of how he just loves riding a bike and wants to be part of the TWR for his career was just a ploy. Yes High risk Athletes need to make money while they can, yes it is a job, yeah I get it. I'm just disappointed.
As for Matti, I'm a huge fan of the guy always have been, always will be. I talked to him in Whistler once after the first major injury, he and I both have broken our necks and seeing his out look and seeing him back on his bike helped me a lot. I love this sport , I love bikes and how they make me feel when out for a ride with good friends. No matter what, Job or not in my idealistic mind this should be about fun. Matti will come back again he'll continue riding and that's what I want to remember. If you wanna ditch teams and take the big money, make childish internet videos to tell every one what your doing, go ahead. all the best to you in the future, but everything you say will be taken with a heavy grain of salt from now on.

P.S. Protour has always had a way of getting under my skin, hes turned me from a rational being to a raving lunatic on a couple of occasions, Thank you Protour for keep us all in check. Thank you for for having an honest opinion, even if it makes me want to strangle a kitten from time to time.
  • + 11
 Pb is going to have to have a protour appreciation day with all these positive comments Smile
  • + 3
 If anything, what happened is good for the sport. Sam Hill a legendary World Cup Racer moved on to NP, an arguably more up and coming race team, which will help them develop further as a brand. This is also an opportunity to bring someone other than the very best(Gwin) onto a top notch TREK team.
  • + 1
 you're not living in a dream world, bookem13. this stuff has been happening since caveman days, thru every dynasty and empire, which makes protour's post is all the more relevant.
  • + 2
 "money my dear boy"

I can't fault him, he obviously got a better deal. Nothing wrong with that. Loyalty is not its own reward, and he has a limited window to make money from his skill set, capitalize and .

its far too easy to say money or not, because you're on the not side, biking for most is a passion, not for the pro's; it is a job. I would do as he has done, because from a job perspective I would do it.
  • + 9
 i surprised that these boards arent dwelling more on this being a battle between the way whitely runs his programs and his atheletes that he represents. gwin isn't repped by whitely, yet whitely is technically his boss. seems like a recipe for disaster if Gwin wanted to shop the market to an unwilling whitely. well, he did, and found specialized. Gwin then never really gets to deal with trek for whitely is in the way holding a tighter purse. it is less about trek vs aaron. i believe the truth is more that gwin doesn't want to be trapped under whitely....and the timing couldn't be better to have hill gone at speshy. boom, gwin talks to S and says by by to whitely.
  • - 11
 I didnt catch why everyone thinks Gwin moved because of lance but if he said that hes feeding you all a line. Contador currently on a 2 year ban for blood doping is he not? He got his 2010 tour title stripped as well and as far as I know still rides specialized.

Gwins money hungry and wont admit it, lost alot of respect for him. Thought he was a stand up guy
  • + 6
 Bookem13 - I don't really know that you can question Gwin's integrity. Have you never changed a job? With so much going on behind closed doors we don't really know what the reasons for the move were, and there is a very real chance they may not have been monetary. From the TWR statement they found out about Gwin's potential move and tried to sort it out. They failed. I'm pretty sure they could have matched whatever Specialized could offer so maybe it is something else? We don't know and may never find out. Gwin's comments about wishing he could say more don't really hint at money as a reason after all, so I'm happy to trust that he has made a decision that is right for him for reasons personal to himself unless I hear otherwise.

It reminds me of all the football fans over here getting upset when the star player moves on - yes, it is gutting, but the players are doing a job and that's the end of it. People go massively over the top because they care about the team. It's pretty funny when some foreign superstar moves on and they are accused of being mercenary - didn't seem to bother many when they moved to the club in the first place! Mountain biking is the same - we care about it and associate riders and teams. We have an emotional connection to them, but life will go on - just look at the Athertons and Commencal!
  • + 4
 free market
  • + 3
 well said slimboyjim. it's not like messi deciding the night before to play for spain in the world cup final!
  • - 18
 Mountain Biking is the sports of hipsters
  • + 2
 @bookem13 One little catch to the whole LOI deal... Both sides have to negotiate in good faith.. If TWR/23 degrees offered Gwin a contract far below what could be considered market value, then maybe Gwin and his agent are better off pursuing other offers. I am sure back in August, Gwin was happy at the notion of staying with TWR, but that was well before a spot opened up at Spec. It is the domino effect.. Now, the big question is who does Martin go after to replace Gwin? It's his job.. If he can get paid more by another employer, should he turn it down?
  • + 8
 chatel44 has it right - whitely is a wanker. Gwin didn't like the guy. Just look at how whitley handled it - lawsuit, we gonna do what we can to enforce that legally binding letter of intention - stop crying. say its unfortunate, say you gonna check the situation.... don't talk all righteous.

A #1 place on a funded team, more money from spesh? oh - should I stay or should I go now? If I stay it will be trouble... if I go it will be double!!

ja baby.... Gwin for the Win!
  • + 3
 I think your 100% right about whitley/ douche bag, he is money hungry. Gwin probaly took less to ride for specialized just to be rid of that guy and there racing program.
  • + 3
 Video just released on Trek World Racings Youtube channel showing him signing a letter on intent

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q30G67w0iPM
  • + 4
 @richlong28 well that wasn't awkward! No wonder this happened....
  • + 2
 after watching the vid from richlong28, im not so sure that gwins manager isn't a wanker either.... wonder what his cut was.

and last but not least... you think spesh would get into this girls fight knowing they would loose? nope. (sorry only pun meant about the girl fight, like in those american movies...)
  • + 2
 ok enough speculating this is Aarons new steed: www.pinkbike.com/photo/6157984
  • + 1
 @ ibeaver : appropriate use of Clash lyrics Wink
  • + 3
 After seeing the youtube video i have to agree with ibeaver - his mgr probably would have netted a good 6-figure commission from that, if he had eventually signed the contract that is.

Another point many haven't touched on is the fact that Trek World Racing (TWR) and Trek are independent entities. The simple fact that TWR has Trek in their team name, along with the recent cry-baby behavior in response to Gwin's departure, should have Trek ishtting their pants because TWR is now dragging Trek's name through the mud, especially with the angry (or passive aggressive, i havent decided yet) responses in the past few days from TWR which include "legal action" and the youtube video.

Poor form, TWR - you should have taken the high road. And all i see over the interwebs is people bashing "Trek", and not TWR. Trek may have a valid reason to sue TWR for causing this. Or, it could be that Trek is letting TWR dig their own hole. Then it gives Trek the perfect reason to cut ties with Whitely and company.
  • + 3
 Why is everyone focused on Gwin LEAVING Trek? Why aren't more people stoked or pissed about him COMING to Spesh? Maybe he transferred to Spesh because he had always wanted to race for them. Personally I would leave any brand on the planet to ride for them. Why cant Gwin have normal reasons instead of money or doping?
  • + 2
 oh i think we are all stoked to see Gwin on Specialized. But that's the end of that story - He's on Spesh, hooray! People keep talking about his departure from Trek because of the circumstances surrounding his departure. Simply put, it's interesting. Much like reality TV, this "drama" allows fans to connect with the subject on a personal level. ie. even though we aren't all pro mtn bike riders, we know the emotions and drama behind leaving a job and joining a new "company".
  • + 1
 I don't see how the youtube vid is changing people's opinions as it shows nothing over than he signed something, which we already knew from TWR's wee bitchy article. Doesn't give anymore indication as to the legal specifications of the 'contract'. Not a fan of TWR's approach to this.
  • + 0
 I just don't care.
  • + 3
 By simply releasing the youtube video, Trek World Racing is trying to send this message to the public: "We have proof that Aaron signed a Letter of Intent, so we just want to show everyone". Whether TWR is trying to evaluate Gwin's integrity via this youtube video is in the eye of the beholder....

Poor poor form, TWR
  • + 2
 It's to bad he covered the writing with his hand as he signed this, it would good to see the actual wording, the title clearly states Letter of Intent, obviously a glorified piece of ass wipe.
  • + 3
 LOL the YouTube video "has been removed by the user".

Looks like they're coming down from their temper tantrum. That, or Trek watched it.
  • + 3
 I may have my facts wrong, but I'm not really sure why any company that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars is bitching about losing a rider. Yes, he is Aaron Gwin, sure, but really! He gave them the results they wanted now shut the hell up already! If this was baseball, they'd just put some money under the table for another rider then TWR has their lead rider back.
  • + 1
 Trek and TWR aren't the same company
  • + 1
 ^ exactly. TWR posted it. If I were mgmt at Trek and saw that video i'd be pissed.
  • + 4
 *Newsflash*...Protour's now more famous and respected by the MTB community than Aaron Gwin!!! (not intended to offend ANYONE)
  • + 2
 Just remember Protour.... I loved you before it was cool...
[Reply]
  • + 91
 This made me feel so bad for Matti. I remember the days of team honda!! The guy is so unlucky.
  • + 24
 agreed. i would hate to be him and read this article. although, it would be nice to know that even with "plates and strips that rebuilt his broken body" hes still faster than the guy that wrote this and 99.9999999999% of the world's population. and that shows how great a rider he is
  • + 16
 For me, Matti will always be one of the most inspirational riders there has been. It's just unfortunate that unlike Barel he couldn't take a WC win after his injuries. I would probably buy a bike from a company that gave him a ride, either in world cups or some other capacity, because then they would be the good guys
  • + 14
 Definitely, he was a rad rider and had some properly horrible crashes. Watching the old clay porter vids and past d/h seasons he defo had the potential to be right up there regularly. Hope someone signs him up, Trek could probably turn him into some kind of robotic downhill machine if they get the dudes who ran armstrongs trainig program to 'look after him'..... Well, hopefully that won't happen but surely someone will sign him up as an experienced pro to help development etc. at least.
  • + 5
 yea i hope so, Matti may not be the fastest rider in the world cup, but he deserves to be on a team due to his determination to keep pushing even after horrific injury's time and time again. He deserves to be signed to a team for his full bulldog spirit and determination as well as being a top guy. He is a true inspiration and please get him on a team.
  • + 4
 Actually, Barel won Maribor after his injury. Plus, he got on the podium at least one more time that same year. That guy, along with Matti, has to be one of the most inspirational riders out there!
  • + 1
 What's with the 'actually', u sound like my mum :-)
You're right though man the barel is a legend, and he won it during his injury i reckon if u look at that crazy brace he was rocking
  • - 8
 I hate the phrasing of Lehikoinen being "unlucky". It's not unlucky to hurt your self badly riding at 10/10th, it's part of the game. Just because your a nice person and a good rider doesn't mean you don't make mistakes. Its unlucky to have a bear standing in the middle of the trail in a blind corner. I like Lehikoinen, I think he fast, and apparently a bad ass for coming back after those injuries..
  • + 5
 its not unlucky to break your back, then both your wrists, then smash your entire face up while wearing a full face and then separate your shoulder in the space of just over 3 seasons? If that isn't unlucky then i do not know what is
[Reply]
  • + 54
 A perfect, rational view of the situation, excellent write up. Big up to Matti too, one of the toughest guys in the game!
  • + 4
 Nice write-up, Wragg. If anyone who has competed in a sport is truly honest with himself, he'll recall how fleeting it is/was to stay competitive, especially as injuries start racking up. I can't hold it against Gwin for trying to make the most of his opportunities as properly as he can. And here's hoping we haven't seen the last of Matti in WCs--or even on a podium!
[Reply]
  • + 24
 I wonder whether Mr Whiteley (TWR) will put his toys back in his pram and shut up now. He may well be surprised at Gwin's 'unprofessional actions' and total 'disregard' but personally, I'm surprised that someone in his position would A) libel a well respected racer and B) want him back seeing as he wants to leave and C) let the entire MTB world know about it all. If anyone is being unprofessional here it's Whiteley. Bring on the legal action and we'll see who was just waving his dick about and having a tantrum...
  • + 10
 I can't agree with you more, but DAYUM i had some pretty sketchy images appear in my head reading that last sentence, haha!
  • + 9
 D) Have one of the best DH riders ever on your team and not have him locked down in a proper contract.
  • + 4
 It is ironic that Martin is the one calling someone unprofessional in a PR written like that... He didn't take care of business and he lost his gravy train because of it. Bigburd hit the nail on the head. He should have had a signed contact extension when he did that press release in August, not a letter of intent...
  • + 3
 Took the words out of my mouth lumpy. A letter of intent is just that. " I INTEND to work for you, but if something happens between now and signing a contract, then that's a different ball game". The will be a good reason as to why he signed a LOI rather than a contract back in August, maybe he knew Sam Hill might be looking to move to crc and was covering the bases?
  • + 1
 I totally agree with hayd. TWR is truly unprofessional bashing Gwin on mass media!!!
[Reply]
  • + 20
 This is OT but I just had to say it. The moderators (i mean wragg, rc, brulle etc) here in pinkbike are very good writers. The way you express your thoughts are very balanced, well thought off, and well expressed. It's easy to read and understand. Thank you! And on top of that, we are all shredders. Kudos to you guys for being such great mountain bikers and great writers!
  • + 1
 Tama ka jan kabayan! We'll for me whatever team gwin is a great rider period, corporately speaking or plainly mountain biking... :-)
[Reply]
  • + 24
 I support Aaron Gwin 100%,absolutely stoked to see him on the big S
[Reply]
  • + 15
 This article is spot on, passion for our sport sometimes clouds our vision whilst those who are talented enough to make a career out of mountain biking are looking at it in way we do with our respective 9-5 jobs. A career in extreme sports is a fragile, short lived affair and pros need to make hay while the sun shines, whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation, if its what Gwin needs to provide for his future then fair play and good luck to him.
[Reply]
  • + 11
 Good write up. Matti is a guy I'd have in my team all day long (for being a good professional). Gwin's comment on Three Minute Gaps when asked if he was pissing off the other riders by being the new guy and doing well was "I hope so"........ so are we really surprised with his latest actions? The boy would podium in a shopping trolley, he will soon forget about all the headlines and do well for Specialized.
  • + 3
 Gwin is a fierce competitor. He's not racing to try to get second... or third or fourth or fifth....
  • + 6
 All this drama is the direct effects of "Jersey Shore" being canceled.
  • + 2
 Don't get me wrong, I like the guy. His ability to not slow down for the corners is fantastic!! I don't care who he rides for cause he's good to watch. Plus all the kids that got a Trek will have to trade it in for a Spesh this year.......
  • + 3
 hahahaha i love that! 'he would podium in a shopping trolley' i would pay to see that shit!!
[Reply]
  • + 10
 Matt, great write up, I wish this would be an article strong enough to put the end to all this. But despite many good articles on cheap drama, in worlds best newspapers, the scandal mags still shine brightest on kiosks and on displayd by the check outs at supermarkets. Such stories are fueling journalism and bring attention to the sport. I take quality over quantity anytime, I dont want that sport to grow much more, the last thing I want is a mass of mediocre fans of such crap, direspectful goo, that will only ruin the trails.

And Aaron serms such a great bloke, I believe he is resistant towards offers of easy publicity. I dont want to see his own series like ( with all the respect Clay) 12 episode Atherton Shore
  • + 1
 I ultimately mean that in such cases: SILENCE IS GOLD. Some issues should be left to starve to death... just as it was with Rocky Roads and UCI on DH coverage. Please guys, let's respect Aaron, Trek, Specialized and our dear sport and stop this low-life food. It is we making it waaay worse than it really is.
  • + 26
 'Silence is gold!' says the man who makes 2 comments.....
  • + 3
 gavlaa made me laugh Smile
  • + 6
 How does people typing words onto the internet "ruin the trails"
[Reply]
  • + 12
 Good article but it's on the same page as your 'Did Gwinn break his contract' article. You can't pretend to be above all the BS when you stir the pot too. Respect to Matti.
  • + 3
 I think this article might be because PB felt a little guilty about throwing Gwin under the bus in the contract breach article.

That article should have been called: Was Gwin obligated to leave Trek because Trek knowingly sponsored a doped Lance Armstrong?
  • + 3
 Oh so its bad for trek to sponsor dopers but ok for specialized to do it!?!
  • + 3
 Specialized didn't have the biggest doper of all-time; Mr. Lance Armstrong, who not only forced his teammates to dope if they wanted to make the Tour team, but also sued the hell out of anyone who accused him of doping. Then there was also Lance's $100,000 donation to the UCI which he admitted to teammates was in order to cover up positive tests, and he also attempted to bribe the USADA with $250,000 but it was thankfully not accepted. The same Mr. Armstrong who forced Trek to delete Lemond Bicycles as a bicycle brand because Greg Lemond had been critical of Lance's relationship with Dr. Doper Ferrari. Don't forget about the millions Lance has profited from LiveStrong, which, while never saving anyone from Cancer, at least created alot of yellow plastic for naive people to purchase to pad Lance's bank account. His real last name wasn't Armstrong either, he changed that as easily as he changed his red blood cell count.

Pretty sure Specialized never sponsored anyone with that kind of resume. People inside Trek knew he was doping but let the con act continue because they thought he would get away with it and because they were making alot of money.

Props to Gwin for rejecting such a bad association, I'm sure he feels alot cleaner now.
  • + 1
 I like what I read Protour. I can't think of any other reason he would have left. I can't see Specialized paying him any more than Trek either. He says the contract they actually produced was not what they originally discussed, which could be true, and it could also be a convenient excuse because he wanted to jump ship anyway over the King of Doping scandal.

I don't really care one way or the other, I would do the same for more money or better conditions or whatever. Loyalty works both ways and they'd drop him just as quickly as he dropped them if he failed to get the results or did something they didn't like. And from what I've seen of him in interviews, Martin Whitely seems like a right c*nt. I wouldn't want to associate with him.

One thing I think is quite funny is that Specialized didn't really need him. Hill left, but I think Troy is going to give Gwinner a run for his money this year, and have the beating of him in two to three years. Troy is the next big thing. Sam is over the Hill and Aaron won't keep on Gwinning for much longer. In fact, hes already stopped hasn't he?
[Reply]
  • + 7
 I personally dont want to know why he went to spesh.
Speaking as a man who has employed people as well as being an employee I strongly feel a person has a right to make those decisions privately for his own reasons.
Nothing gained by "setting the record straight" for anyone.
[Reply]
  • + 11
 Yes BBC needs more MTB
[Reply]
  • + 5
 One thing that has been proven VERY well over the last 48 hours or so is that Racing sells bikes, and the riders also sell bikes,, when it was announced that sam hill was off to CRC there was a list of users on here "off to sell their demo's" etc then when gwin is announced onto spesh there was a lot of "oh heck, i've just sold my demo," or " no need to sell my demo" or even,, time to sell my trek,,

Good old fashioned marketing does work sometimes then,
  • + 3
 Yes it does.
  • + 5
 Good race results sell bikes, FACT!

I'll think you'll find many of the 'off to sell my Demo' posts were to be taken with a pinch of salt. ;-)

Demos are still awesome after Hill and Sessions are still one of the best bikes available after Gwin.
  • + 2
 Can 18 year old fanboys really afford to switch 5g race bikes on a whim?
  • + 1
 I guess not randy deer, but, big but, pb ran a surgery a few months back on what bikes were being used in the whistler bike park and correct me if I'm wrong but the demo was no.1. Even if they did skew the result by showing the demo in all variants where as the other brands were by year/ # tc
  • + 1
 "Can 18 year old fanboys really afford to switch 5g race bikes on a whim?"

No but they can pretend they know what Integrity means.... We all know everything when we're young.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 This article makes it sound like it's the end for Matti Frown I hope next year he comes back and gets on the podium, he more than deserves a few podium places Smile
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Scumbag Pinkbike: Posts news article about Gwin switching teams, possible legal actions, which team (Spec or Trek) is in the right. Next day posts article about everyone freaking out and that it's not a big deal, telling people this stuff happens all the time.

How about if it wasn't a big deal in the first place, you don't make it sound like one? Then, you won't get that kind of reaction from the Pinkbike community.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 That's kind of weird,that now everyone agrees with Gwinn after an artickle like that!! I think most of the people in the forums, who thought Gwinn was being a bad person didnt said it becouse of the team change, more like becouse of how he replied to Trek after the incident, and not explaining himself as he supposed to. The team change itself is not a big deal as the writer said, but the way Gwinn dealt with the situation and with Trek is! Its just wasnt right to get a lawyer without any response to deal with the business with trek, and not even pick up a phone or reply to an email. Thats what was wrong, and not that he wanted to change teams! And big props to Matti, he's a legend!!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Well i not here to argue the things about Lance shit but.... No one there is innocent, no one forced the riders to use illegal substances, Lance was the most tested guy on the world and no one founded the drugs on his blood. I say that this LANCE case has something about ENVY and a lot of money behind/ i think that 100% of the pro cycling riders uses dope, but why just punish Lance. He will always be a hero no matter what the press says...
  • + 6
 The Lance story isn't about doping though. It's about bribery, fraud and corruption worth tens of millions of dollars. It's about bullying, intimidation and perjury that ruined the careers of other riders and people in the industry. If the weight of evidence proves to be true, no athlete in any other sport, let alone any other rider will have come close.
  • + 2
 Its been proven that its not exclusive to road riders. Quite a few former MTB world champions and have had their medals/titles stripped for doping. It would be naive to think that only folks on the XC side of our sport do it.
  • + 2
 They were stripped for smoking/selling weed in DH... that's not doping. The DHers can't afford the dope that'll pass drug testing.
  • + 1
 I am not referring to missy giove or myles rockwell or any other pot users.
  • + 1
 Then who are you referring to? Please name DH racres since this a post about the DH race scene, not XC.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 I know that there were days wherein people where very loyal to those who helped them from the beginning and I wish things would've stayed that way. These days, however, are very different. If I were in Gwin's place, I would've done the same thing, knowing that this is already a heavily money driven world that we live in.
  • - 18
 People should quit insinuating he moved for the money, there is no evidence of that whatsoever. If anything it's the opposite: Gwin is taking a moral stand against doping and is leaving Trek based on ethical principal.

There is more evidence to support him moving on because he no longer wanted to be associated with the brand that is now tainted by Lance Armstrong. Gwin looked up to Trek bicycles when Lance was wining Tour de France's. I'm sure Gwin is disgusted with the Lance lie, and has probably figured out Trek knew Lance was doping all along but did nothing cause they were making tons of money selling Trek road bikes that Lance was racing. It's understandable, if not commendable, for Gwin to want a fresh start and reject Trek for profiting off of a lie for so long and not dumping Lance sooner.

Lance might have shit on the Trek brand, but Gwin flushed it down the toilet.

This is all Trek's own greedy fault, and they deserve it for what Lance forced them to do to the Lemond brand
  • + 4
 I can't believe my eyes! THE Protour actually replied to my comment!!! STOKED! Seriously though, I'd like to see a link or two on your point of Gwin not wanting to be associated with the tainted brand. I like reading both sides of the story.
  • + 11
 Eee please explain me the link between Gwin and a bag of: doping, Armstrong, Trek? Don't you think you guys are taking it too far with stitching patches of blurry informations?

I mark this issue as a new era of MTB internet media: when mountain bikers got something new to troll on than carbon fibre, gearboxes and wheel size. This takes all forms of entertainment. Congratulations to Team Rumors, you've made history!

Therefore I wish to sing this to all deeply concerned with the matter:
Trolo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo looooo, trollo lo llo lo llo lo llo llooo llooo llooooo, ho ho ho ho Ho!!!
  • - 1
 What the f*** are u speaking about Propoop? u are getting even more loose...
  • - 10
 I'll admit I'm not positively right about the Lance factor....yet...but it seems pretty clear to me and is the only logical explanation for him leaving Trek.

Why else would he leave? I don't think he would have left for more money alone, especially not after signing a letter of intent. I also doubt Specialized is paying him
more, and now he has to get used to a new bike and team.

What changed AFTER he signed the letter of intent is that Lance went from hero to zero once the USADA report emerged, then Trek finally dropped Lance. But then Gwin realized he should dump Trek because they are a tainted company who made some bad decisions to make a profit. Good for him. Hopefully he'll talk about it tomorrow and you can hear it straight from the horses mouth.
  • + 19
 Protour was actually making some sense back in the final months of 2012, It's good to see that he's back on form for 2013.
  • - 3
 ^this

protour, stop babbling
  • + 7
 Hey, at least I'm presenting some facts along with my Lance factor theory, that's alot more than anyone else has done around here lately.

Better yet, how about someone explain to me why Lance WASN'T a factor in his leaving Trek? What evidence do you have?
  • + 5
 What evidence do you have that it WAS a factor in him leaving,, without anything said from either party it's purely circumstantial poppycock..
  • + 3
 Oh Protour, what are we going to do with you?
  • + 2
 I actually agree with Protour.f*ck me right?
  • + 3
 Theorys and speculation. That's all any of this is.
  • + 1
 It's pure speculation, but would be a great story if true. It's also the theory that casts Gwin in the kindest light.
  • + 2
 See I don't think he's the bad guy here no matter what. People are talking like he murdered somebody. It's a job. He took an job opportunity. I will wait for more details as they come out but as far as Im concerned a letter of intent is not worth the paper it's written on. Trek should have had him in a contract. And truthfully, Specialized seems like a great company to ride for, for all anybody knows there is not a one of us who would have turned it down.
  • + 2
 you can't prove a non-existant dude. just an FYI. maybe a logic and deductive reasoning class at your local college might help you out there. its the burden of the one making the claim to provide proof. its about the same as saying "prove god doesn't exist." until then its hearsay and conjecture.
  • + 1
 I think the theory of Protour is being taking a little too far, BUT.....you all need to get your sources outside of the DH world only so you can see the entire field...I would agree with Protour in a 70% on this theory, since we all know how religious Gwinn is, hey, why not this is not the main, but a great porcentage of the decision he took to jump ships...?
  • + 2
 Sweatypants - please take your Church of Reason and Evolution out of here
  • - 3
 You can have that discussion with me in PM but nobody wants to hear my story about that awesome dude from the sky I meet sometimes, and your stories on how you looked for him in the bush and haven't found him... It's a bike site, keep your inner troubles private
  • + 4
 I'm surprised Protour hasn't expanded his conspiracy yet to say that Gwin left TWR before anyone questioned whether is suddenlly stellar results came the same way they did for Lance.
  • + 1
 WAKI - my b... i'll try to be more illogical next time. don't wanna let you down.
  • + 3
 WAKI I thought it read "keep your inner tubes private"
  • + 2
 Exactly^^ at the end of the day.. (doping,Lance,Asian manufacturing, more money or whatever) if Spesh is a better opportunity for Aaron's "short pro window" than so be it. It is better for him...period.
  • + 1
 Your right if you replace lance armstrong with martin whitley.
  • + 1
 protour got sober
  • + 2
 aarongwin.hookit.com According to Gwin, he didn't breach any contract Smile
[Reply]
  • + 4
 It is an absolute relief that somebody finally talked about the Gwin situation without pointing fingers and name calling. This is one of the most thought out and best articulated articles I have read on Pinkbike in a long time.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Our passion is their job. We buy into brands based on our concept of value, performance etc and having a successful race program means more sales. It makes perfect sense for manufacturers to want the best riders on their team and it makes perfect sense for riders to want to increase their earnings in a dangerous sport where you can have a career ending injury at any time. Anyone with half a brain would swap their job for a higher pay but one thing in life you have to be mindful of is burning bridges along the way. There is little drama here to be honest, the most dominant man in DH has swapped teams for an increase in pay... Get over it.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 I am excited to see Gwin on a new bike. Should be interesting to see if he can pick up where he left off. The switch does seem very poorly planned but Twr should know not signed contract is no signed contract. And airing it as dirty laundry in public is weak and unprofessional, unhappy with his business conduct fine, sue him. Its the only way anything useful will come out of the situation. I bet Lance takes some blame in this, obvious choice.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Sad to say this has generated more news than the death of a World Cup xc athlete. ;/. It's really not a big deal, taking a job is taking a job.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Why are people "weighing in" while making assumptions? No one has any clue exactly what went down besides Aaron himself, Specialized, Trek World Racing and their attorneys. No one should be hung out to dry (on either side), until all of the facts are in. And let's be clear, the media and MTB racing scene in general will never truly know all of the facts, nor should they.
  • + 1
 Because that's what the comment section under each article is for... blame Facebook and the like, but we're all experts now thanks to the interweb.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Lets move on with all of this Drama, Sam & Aaron Goodluck to both of you...I like specialized with Nukeproof partsSmile
[Reply]
  • + 3
 What drivel.

Please tell me when a Formula 1 driver was last bought out of their contract?! It was Raikonen, who was payed out by his *own* team a few years ago. And that caused a pretty big stir! It's not common in F1 for drivers to be bought out of existing contracts. It doesn't happen like the article makes out.

The fact that this has caused a stir has done the complete opposite of reinforcing the idea that we're still a small community. When contracts, deals and money become a talking point, you know a sport is growing.

But nice rationality to Gwin's move etc.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 If you were hitting on a girl not so cute 'cause you think you don't have a chance with the superhot one you really want, and then one day you find out you do, you would leave the not so cute girl for the superhot one without thinking twice, woudln't you?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Wow!!!!!! Good find..
  • + 1
 Amazing, maybe this is retaliation for that vid trek released showing Gwin signing the letter of intent. Things are getting nasty.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 This is the objective perspective we as a community should always have in these situations. We do follow each year the WC and the World Championships with a lot of expectation and emotion, and during the whole season we tent to look at the riders not only as pros, but also as the fellow I´ve seen riding somewhere else outside the WC track. We do feel closer to them and therefore we should be able to understand the decisions being made. It is what makes our world so special.

This was indeed a great article to read.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Great article. Balancing, reflective and to the point. A counterpoint to the nearly hysterical debate in some of the online press. Highly appreciated.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Matti Lehikoinen is a warrior, big respect to someone thats had so much of his body rebuilt and returned for more, hope he gets a ride for 2013 the world cup wouldent be the same without him.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 call me crazy, but Gwin is a professional on the bike at best - this video seems like he didn't realize what signing paper really means...and who is that young fellow Rich - his manager? lol...

At that point it would have cost him just a phone call to Morgan Hill, to find out what he possibly would be missing out on...

I totally understand Whiteley being bummed about this. Not only is Gwin gone now (sure he got his reasons, but for similar reasons couples get divorced, cause the grass seemed greener), but the whole atmosphere between the pits will be screwed, and I don't necessarily blame 23degrees.

I'm not hating on Gwin here, because apparently he's not pro enough, but Specialized for walking over dead bodies... I think they just got kind of a nasty thing started...
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Note that everyone has a different perspective on the proper balance between pursuing wealth, personal happiness and obligation to those around you. Certainly at this point in history, and especially in America, we view the pursuit of personal happiness and wealth as morally justified, with very few things being viewed as outweighing obligations. Please recognize that this is a completely arbitrary moral equation, and not one that we should be terribly proud of. We used to take pride in forming lasting and meaning career relationships. At some point in the future, we may again. With that said, I'm not criticizing Gwin. Hell, we don't even know why Gwin made the move. Race on man, I love watching you ride, no matter who's logo is on the bike.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 "Racers have short careers, a limited lifespan that could be cut short tomorrow by injury"

Shhhh.. don't tell them that or they're be a widespread DH racer strike and they'll be after 50% of the manufacturers profits before they start racing again.
  • + 1
 Oh man, too good!!!
[Reply]
  • + 5
 all i want to know is........am i going to be able to get a trek session cheaper now or what?
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  • + 4
 fantastic article, finally a voice of calm and reason after 24hrs of F1 style hearsay and witch hunting. we will truely only know what went down down when Gwinn talks
[Reply]
  • + 1
 An article that isn't all B.S. Holy crap! Great job. Side note... people need to start separating Trek the company from TWR. It is not Trek the bicycle company that he opted out of. It's Trek World Racing... a separate company sponsored by Trek... a sponsorship that Trek can step away from.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i love how Matti was brought up. That guy stood out to me the most, even over Sam Hill when i started riding. No matter what happens with the Gwin stuff, im always rooting for Matti.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 The think people keep forgetting at the end of all the drama is that this is an business and this article hit the nail on the head. He left an employer, not his family. Still, I love the drama and speculation as much as the next guy.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I couldnt agree more,Sam moved on and not a whole lot was said and Aaron switched all hell broke loose.al though whe Aaron switched it looked like a big F u to Trek and lacked class.I will still cheer Aaron on but it will be from the seat of my session 88.At least Aaron on a Demo evens the playing field.2013 is going to be sick.Mother @#^%$! racin \m/
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I don't thin anyone should be holding anything against Gwinn here. Even if he did legally breach a letter or intent, which he likely did, that's his choice. He's a smart dude who likely has a smart lawyer and he's weighed the consequences of breaking that commitment (bad press, possibly having to settle a suit with TWR etc) against the benefits (whatever drew him to Specialized whether it be money, support, the bike etc) and he clearly decided the benefits outweighed the consequences.

Like I've said before he's doing what he feels is best for him, just as any of us would do, even if it means breaking and agreement with TWR, and that's what he should be doing. TWR is pissed, and maybe rightfully so if they thought they had some kind of agreement, and they to are doing what's best for them by reacting the way they are. I think we all see riding as a hobby but for the top level riders its a career and for teams its big business and this kind of thing goes on in business all the time. It just hard I think for the recreational rider to equal a fun hobby to the hardcore business aspects of it.
  • + 1
 A loi is just that, it's not a contract,,, so nothing to breach. As some one that deals with athlete management for a living I have never used a Lou as they're not worth the paper they're written on...
  • + 2
 I'm not getting into the specifics of what Gwinn may or may not have been bound to with the LOI, because it really all depends on what it says. It could be a worthless paper like you said, but it might contain some things he was accountable for, its useless to speculate and that wasn't my point. Regardless of all that, some kind of understanding was reached over the summer where both parties announced their intentions to continue the relationship for 3 years. My point really was that even if he was bound to certain things, and even if it might screw over TWR, he was doing what was best for him at the end of the day, which is what he should be doing. And the same goes for TWR. If they feel they are getting screwed, they should pursue any possible recourse they may have, as they should, because thats what they feel is best for them. This is just how things work in the business world, which is all this is.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 All in all, all these rumors, comments, judges or critics on moral or immoral decisions were just a big CHAINREACTION. Just ride our bikes and be supportive to all these elites! Everyone in the top level of this sport deserves our respect. I feel so sad for Matti. A real talent yet unlucky guy. Wish him and everyone else good luck in the coming season!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I agree . It's completely Treks fault . He's clearly the number 1 rider at the moment winning 2 consecutive world cup overalls so obviously he's going to get deals coming at him left , right and center. Trek should have known this and gave him a legally binding contract to sign as soon as the season was over and a better deal than he had to make him stay, not a letter of intent. And it is sad that no one ever thought of Matti when Sam signed for CRC . I'm sure someone did but i'll be honest I never thought of him just all the focus was on Sam and his huge decision to move. Wish Matti all the best anyway.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I think Gwin would have been disappointed at how poorly Trek marketed him. I mean, he totally dominated the last two seasons and is the first American to do so for a very very long time. He should have been on the cover of Time magazine for his achievements, but I think most American's outside of the sport wouldn't have even noticed. He and the sport will be properly promoted at Specialized. Which is good very good news for DH IMO. More outside industry sponsorship for downhill is needed.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Aaron Gwin's words:

"Aaron Gwin says, “I did not breach any contract”

I'm writing this public note to hopefully shed a little light on what's actually going on with my move to Specialized.

Reports that I broke my contract with 23 Degrees/Trek World Racing are false.  My contract expired.  The one-page letter of intent I signed said there would be a “full length contract” with “precise terms” coming in the future.  The 16-page contract that showed up in late November was not signed by me because it was not the deal we had made. I have moved on to a team that gave me the contract I wanted, and these are the facts.

The press reports are inaccurate, unfair, and one-sided. Because 23 Degrees has hired lawyers and threatened to sue me, my lawyers have told me not to say anything for now.

While riding for Trek, I lived up to my contract and gave them my 100% effort and full commitment.  I intend on doing the same for Specialized.

As for now, I want to let my fans know that my offseason training has been going great. I love my new bikes and I'm more excited to race this year than I ever have been. Big thanks to the Specialized family for such an amazing opportunity and support.

I hope everyone understands that I cannot talk any further about this at this time, but I felt like I needed to clear the air a bit, without getting too much into the legal stuff.

Thanks to all the fans who have stood behind me.

AG"

in aarongwin.hookit.com

CASE CLOSED.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I don't give a s#!t who Gwin rides for. I'm still going to wake up, go to work, and ride my damn bike when I can, and that's what's up. James Stewart does'nt rock Fox head anymore, Scotty Cranmer rides for Hyper now, Shaq played for 5 different nba teams,
this s#!t happens in professional sports man. Don't sweat it, your bike needs your attention, not Aaron Gwins contract situation.
Peace to all my PB homies and keep having fun your bikes...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Official statement on Gwins website:

Aaron Gwin says, “I did not breach any contract”

I'm writing this public note to hopefully shed a little light on what's actually going on with my move to Specialized.

Reports that I broke my contract with 23 Degrees/Trek World Racing are false.  My contract expired.  The one-page letter of intent I signed said there would be a “full length contract” with “precise terms” coming in the future.  The 16-page contract that showed up in late November was not signed by me because it was not the deal we had made. I have moved on to a team that gave me the contract I wanted, and these are the facts.

The press reports are inaccurate, unfair, and one-sided. Because 23 Degrees has hired lawyers and threatened to sue me, my lawyers have told me not to say anything for now.

While riding for Trek, I lived up to my contract and gave them my 100% effort and full commitment.  I intend on doing the same for Specialized.

As for now, I want to let my fans know that my offseason training has been going great. I love my new bikes and I'm more excited to race this year than I ever have been. Big thanks to the Specialized family for such an amazing opportunity and support.

I hope everyone understands that I cannot talk any further about this at this time, but I felt like I needed to clear the air a bit, without getting too much into the legal stuff.

Thanks to all the fans who have stood behind me.

AG
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Would trek really want him back knowing that he doesn't want to be on the team and he had already got up and left if he did go back to trek he probably wouldn't ride that good because he would be on a team he doesn't want to be on.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 regardless of it being a job or not. mountain biking is a sport that very few become pros in. If i were a pro i would just be thankfull anyone would even sign me regardless of how many wins i had. look at steve peat, now he is in my eyes the greatest representative of what mountain biking is about......fun. he is loyal and grateful for the amazing opportunity he has been given, and that people is what makes someone a legend. true sportsmanship at its finest, Gwin no one will care in a few years because he is looking out for himself, without much regard for the effect it has on the sport. Ive never been a fan of Gwins because of this, he is remarkably talented but he is not a good rep for the biking community. I stand by Sam Hills decision because he may have left possibly the biggest bike company in the world but he did so leaving a up and coming legend to take his place. Don't forget good people of pinkbike it was Sam that introduced Troy Brosnan to the spotlight.
  • + 1
 And Stevie dropped his longtime sponsor Orange for Santa Cruz.... what's the difference?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Totally unimpressed with this article. Very poor journalism. It circumvents the controversy by citing the obvious. We all know we are not wed to our employers. Gwinn can go wherever he wants. If Gwinn had a goodbye party in Wisconsin, this wouldnt even be an issue.

The real issue is, was Gwinn a total dick to Trek by not giving them an option and leaving them hanging just before the season starts? Or did Trek kill the goose that laid the golden world championship by being a dick themselves and short changing Gwinn on his contract.

Yes, its drama, drama that continues to unfold. I do agree with the article that it's not such a big deal in the real world. It will all be forgotten by Monday
[Reply]
  • + 1
 lol just because more mainstream sports act this way does not make what Gwin did respectable on any level. he made a commitment. trek released a video of him all excited about their contract and signing his letter of intent for 3yrs. not sure where they got it (?) but it makes him look rather foolish now. cant blame trek for being a tiny bit upset eh?

and you can say "its only business" all you want. doesn't change a thing. more isn't always better.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Dear trek world racing, if it makes you feel better go get your money from gwin (specialized), then pay it forward (all of spesh's $) when you sign your new headliner, show the Mtb community that you're not as bad as these press releases make you look
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I think if you see an opportunity... Take it. That's how mountain biking has grown so much. Taking opportunities and pushing boundaries. Gwinn obviously wanted to go to spesh. And with Sam out of it with nukeproof. Why not. If I was in a contract then found a better job. I'd go. Regardless of the consequence.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I think Trek was sure Gwin remain in their team, it's hard to wake up after dreaming that a loi is a contract, or how to explain their reaction after Gwins move to Specialized? I just think about the XC worldcup team (2nd and 3rd place at the worlds) of Trek that was dropped because they wanted to focus on downhill and now they stand there, very surprised and not so happy, without the world fastest rider and nobody in the team (not yet) who comes close to replace him.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Interesting angle on this piece, but I think it's missing the point. The primary reason why CRC have signed Sam Hill is because of the huge costs involved in running a World Cup team, they wanted some return on their outlay, and Sam Hill is one of the biggest brands in mountain biking. Regardless of Matti being injured, he would have lost his ride as he no longer fitted the profile of rider CRC were after, in terms of both performance and brand exposure. The Australian bike market is pretty huge, I've no doubt CRC were well aware of the benefits of taking on Hill both from a North/South hemispere perspective - he ticks loads of boxes.

As for Gwinn going to Specialized, I think the reason why this story has been so huge is because it's undoubtedly exposed the sheer tenacity of the big brands. Mountain Biking is often portrayed as a counter culture movement, but in terms of Trek/Specialized they have a very firm bottom line - Aaron Gwinn is an American rider and he offers the brands something the US has not had since the days of Shaun Palmer and Tomac.

Gwinn has been criticised for going against his alleged word - people generally find loyalty to be an admirable trait. Arguably people feel let down as he appeared loyal, humble and honest. The reasons for his move are unclear, but there does seem to be a public perception that he went purely for financial reasons, and this harms the image he has cultivated.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Aaron gonna be pimped by troy lee www.troyleedesigns.com/news/troy-lee-designs-signs-dh-mtb-world-champ-aaron-gwin
Btw. Full respect for Matti but still thinking that Aaron should inform TWR little bit earlier. On the other side the big team like TWR should know that is only a letter of intent not a contract especially when you have the fastest rider in the world.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I like how when Sam Hill left Specialized for Nukeproof, they made a farewell video and left it at that. On the other hand Trek is busy complaining and worrying about legal issues than just living with it. All Sam Hill needed was a fresh start and I am glad to see him ride for Nukeproof . I also and very happy to see Aaron Gwin with Specialized now. I think it was a good move and I wish him the best of luck for the upcoming season!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I don't completely agree with everything Matt Wragg states..Ok, let's not lower ourselves and treat this peaceful, not overly corporate sport like something out of the pages of the NBA, whatever...I get it. But, breaching a contract is serious stuff. Not only business wise, but morally as well...if such thing still exists. Bikers from my American continent will have my support, but...I mean, a contract is a contract. But who am I to address such things. As long as they're some World Cup races with American (the continent) racers I'm down! Glad for Gwin joining Spesh and everything, but, things didn't look as well intended for a while.

My 2 cents.

PS. I don't think Mattis' on the same coin...I don't really see the relevance. Sorry!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 can't believe people are so bent out of shape. fanboys and geeks, way too obsessed with all this stuff, and a bunch of kids who think any of this crap has far more importance and relevance than it actually does in the "real world"

seriously, who cares. go ride your bike, skis, board or sled. rest up/chill out. have a nap. forget the sponsorhip and teams and marketing and brand hype and mountain bike media coverage - its just bikes - and a better experience when done simply as possible with no hassles

ps all this BS is a very good reason not to buy Trek or Spec

pps - who is all selling your brand new $9k Session 9.9 now lol fanboys
[Reply]
  • + 1
 And the other thing to note. If Gwin comes out and blames Trek for the doping of Lance etc, you can be almost usre that's just a BS spin he's putting on it. There's a lot more to the guy than meets the eye, and I very much doubt that would really be anything to do with it.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 A team needs good riders, when one fails to do what he is suppose to do they drop him (Matti is a great rider never the less), but when #1 plate stabs his sponsor in the back (don't use legal terms to sweeten what is a backstabbing! ), more people are going to comment about it.
Matti will always have a place in WC.
  • - 3
 When a sponsor stabs it's DH racer in the back by sponsoring doped road racers like Lance Armstrong and profiting and tainting the reputation of the brand, the DH racer has to leave.
  • + 3
 some one please turn pro tour's lights off, so we can all enjoy a minute of "look at the canadian, scared of the dark" ;-)
  • + 2
 People have labeled lance a doper for years and that didnt stop gwin from signing onto trek's team.
  • + 1
 Speculating can be fun. I was right there with you protour a couple weeks ago when you were postulating about specialized leaning out there racing team and troy b being there #1 racer.
  • + 1
 gwin raced for Trek World Racing not Trek bikes...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i wonder what our american friends are going to make of this story, by that I mean the ones who were only 24 hours ago calling gwin every name under the sun, slating specialized etc etc. I bet there will be some dramatic U-turns in opinion in comments today versus comments made yesterday..
  • + 0
 Weak people are easily influenced...
  • + 3
 Ill always have gwins back...I was just shocked...who cares in the end? Not like his higher income/new team/ etc will effect my shredding
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'm taking a guess that it has something to do with Lance, and if that is the case, that's fair enough. Trek supported lance knowing he was a doper, I don't think that stigma would sit well with Gwin based on his beliefs. I guess we will know soon enough
  • + 1
 Thats actually a great guess, that could be one of the reasons Gwin is leaving
  • + 2
 Specialized riders' Alberto Contador and Alexander Vinokourov were both caught dopping. So if Gwin is looking for a higher moral ground, why would he step sidways??
  • + 2
 The problem for Trek is the scale of the scandal surrounding Lance and the aggressive position they took defending him. Despite doping being rife, it's left them looking more tainted than other companies.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Right on! Matt These Guys career is short and can be cut shorter in less time that it takes to flick of a brake lever... No issue seeing the man Gwin take action. Any professional would do the same. He is just looking out and taking care of number 1.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 no offence but crashing and breaking bones is the nature of the sport. you push yourself to hard, u crash and burn. not so much a question of someones bad luck slowly making them fade away from the racing atmosphere, but more a fact that someone has the tendency to push himself to the extreme at times beyond their capability. there's no glory if you dont put the balls to the wall, but if you get to close..... your balls might smash into the wall....
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Matti Lehikoinen is a true idol, his persistence is incredible. I didn't forget him even when he slipped down on the rankings. He deserves lot of respect!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 he made a career move that he saw benefited him, end of story. i personally cant wait to see what he does on one of the best built dh bikes out there, the dudes going to be in a league of his own.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 THX! for that!... But where is Matti now (team?) and where is Duncan Riffle? Elliot Jackson also move out of the WC.... interesting beginning in 2013
  • + 2
 According to this facebook (Matti), he's snowboarding in Italy and then heading for 2 weeks surfing in Bali! Big Grin In a way i hope he doesn't pick up a team (for Downhill anyway) big fan of the guy, but jesus I've never seen so many horrendous injuries. Maybe see him on a team as a enduro rider, but perhaps take a year off, recover and find a side of the sport that wont end his chances at having a normal life when he can't ride anymore.
  • + 3
 good comment...there is a life after
  • + 1
 Ironically enough, he's riding specialized now!!! Not in a team, but on specialized nevertheless.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Matthew 7:12 ESV (the bible, apparently)

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them"

He may not have been legally committed, but would Gwin like it if at the last minute Trek had pulled the deal?
  • + 2
 Do you have any idea what Trek did to him? No, neither does anyone except Gwin. There are two sides to the story.
  • + 1
 They helped him become world cup champion... Twice. But I see your point, right now all we've had from Trek is bitching, but not actual information about if or how the deal changed between August and December...
[Reply]
  • + 0
 And if anybody thinks it has ANYTHING to do with the quality and performance of the bikes or the parts. They're mistaken. It's marketing. It's lies. Maybe the guy who loves god still believes, as god lovers do. That homosexuality is a sin and he was tired of Martin whitely trying to grab his dick?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Props to Matti ! Had the opportunity to talk with him once, such a cool guy! Good luck to Gwin with the new team! It's gonna be an interesting season.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 not to take anything away from this article but, "to tout his position on the team as solid before pen had touched paper" reminded me of spartacus for some reason...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Now, Gwinnett just "signed " with Troy lee for protection, did he sign a letter of intent? No he signed a good old fashione dcontract, and Troy lee himself is very happy to tell everyone.
  • + 1
 Damnyouautocorrect. Gwin.. Not Gwinnett
  • + 1
 Long live Gwinnett. I have an iphone, i feel your pain :p
[Reply]
  • + 3
 respect to matti.One of the best and toughest riders out there! i wish he find a team to race for 2013! Salute
[Reply]
  • + 2
 vitalMTB just dropped the Troy Lee press release on Gwin signing with them. Cue nerds crying about having just bought Royal pajama suits and now have to ebay them for TLD...
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Couldnt agree more! And huge props for Matti! One of my fave riders ever! Such a genuine, nice guy, and deserves much better results than he has gained in the last 4 years
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Great article! Spot on! Truely a shame about Matti. I only hope that CG will return to full strength and not go the same way as Matti. Both truly inspirational men.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 oh the DRAMA!!...

You'd be a fool to think no one on Specialized was doping along with the Trek and Lance teams. (dumb argument)

Money talks and people walk....that is all.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 so is matti not riding for anyone this season cause im pretty sure with the right team he could get that old form back?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Taking a page out of the Formula One book, is a perfect way to show that Mr Gwin's move is no big deal at all!
[Reply]
  • - 1
 Copyright...?
  • + 2
 how can it be copyright? it's a completely different picture
  • + 1
 But from another viewpoint Wink
[Reply]
  • + 1
 short and sweet - great article to put things in perspective. poaching goes on in every arena - this is one guy - sometimes entire teams are poached...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 What's any of this have to do with karma? Pinkbike is just taking notes from American based news....stating a bunch of opinionated ideas, instead of the fact based news.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Trek + Lance Armpussy = cheater. Gwin + Trek = Champ - Armpussy fallout. Gwin + Specialized = champ + NO armpussy fallout. Smart move Gwin.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Dudes, this is one of the best posts I ever read in this site, direct, well funded and good resume about what a sport career is, not just mountain biking. Regards.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 it´s such a small RISKY career.. you have to make it the most of it... who pays more is your friend! don´t be a hipocrite... you´ll the same
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I hope Sam and Gwin are neck n' neck this season. Interested to see how strong Troy comes out.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 yeah iv ridden with Aaron alot and really respect him but i don't know if this is the right decision. He should have come and ridden for devinci with me.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Ok but now do I keep my Demo 8 or sell it. I'm 41 and desperate to be 'down with the kids'. Cheers
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Trek just released a Gwin Vid, he signs a letter of intent. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q30G67w0iPM
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Good article. Will be interesting to see how AG fairs at Spesh and whether the rivalry with GM and GA is again as close as it was in 2012. Bring it on.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Possibly the most well written article i have seen on pinkbike to date.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 more drama, Gwinn signing letter of intent - www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q30G67w0iPM
[Reply]
  • + 1
 So TWR just posted this to their YouTube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q30G67w0iPM
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Trek are just making things worse and worse from them now : www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q30G67w0iPM
[Reply]
  • + 1
 @ Matt Wragg, Thank you so much for your insight and apt address of the events, unfolded and unfolding.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Well said! Too much politics around us nowadays we don't need it in mtb!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 At the end of the year they should put the top 20 guys names into a hat and let the top 10 teams pick 2 names eachfor the next season! Then we will really see some drama!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 all publicity is good publicity (isnt that right, trek)
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Legendary read. Good to read a piece cutting through all the crap. Also loving protour's path of destruction haha.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice. Pink Bike has it's big boy pants on now Thanks for stepping up and setting the interweb dramaticians straight.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Well done, Matt Wragg. Top form. And thanks for steering me toward some seriously badass skating.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 His contract expired. He wants to ride with specialized this coming season.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Big f1 fan myself and I've thoroughly enjoyed this bit of healthy off season banter
[Reply]
  • + 2
 One of the best articles I've read by far.Ever
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Great Article, Cut through all the BS. All the best to Matti, and Gwin.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I can come up with my own "rational" analysis, what i want is drama and insider information...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 What I find more surprising is the fact that ProTour is making sense and getting positive props.
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  • + 1
 Nice piece Matt, really nice Smile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 PROTOUR Comments of a day "COD"
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  • + 1
 I just wanna ride.... Good article though...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Next up-the Athertons leave GT and join Diamondback.
  • + 1
 actually at the minute it's fashionable for british cycling starts to start their own brands with halfords and evans. IE Hoy, pendleton and boardman...
  • + 2
 just a shame halfords suck mahooosive gonads ^_^
  • + 1
 so soon???
  • + 2
 I went for a job as a cycle mechanic at my local halfords (anyone unaware of halfords they really could do with good mechanics)
In my opinion they didnt seem interested, they are much more interested in generating accessory sales its the only incentive they offer. I once saw their mechanic confused by something on a bike in store, he had to go and look round other bikes in store to figure out the problem. Not inspiring.
  • + 2
 Yeah it gets bad when they were turning away people who in their words were "over qualified" for Bike mechanic positions
i mean..they just want to higher kids who know diddly squat and have more chance of f*cking the bikes up than fixing em
  • + 1
 Standard working week 6 hours i think he said (single figures anyway) it means they cover saturday and sunday, the rest of your ours are "overtime" at standard rate and holiday pay is very low as a result.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This is a fantastic article.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Hope this excellent article puts finally an end to this soap opera !
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Take a bow son!! Well said
[Reply]
  • + 1
 AAAAAND Trek refuses to let it go...

youtu.be/Q30G67w0iPM
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This is the most well written article I have ever read on Pinkbike.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Printout signs with vitalmtb. PB calls Johnny Cochrane/breaking news
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nicely put Matt. Spot on.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 You have some good points in your article but it was poorly written.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great dinner time read, I thought about F1 as well.
  • + 1
 Or football or icehockey or any other popular sport with a lot of money involved.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Stevie smith to trek???? Could be his time if he does!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 So happy not along liking DH and F1
  • + 1
 I love both, exciting season, and it hasn't even started :p
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Amazing companies have amazing marketing moves too, just like this one.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome article Matt! Great insight into the sport of DH Biking
[Reply]
  • - 3
 A**e licking the racer article if you ask me. I try to teach my kids the right thing, for me Gwin hasn't 'done the right thing'....you make a commitment (possibly binding - who knows!) and public declaration of your intention - you stick by it. People are forgetting Gwin was happy to endorse and commit to Trek in August until their offer was trumpted - didn't even give Trek the opportunity to match the deal from what i understand.He commited very publicly to Trek he should have acted with honour.
  • + 4
 Doing the right thing consists of knowing all of the facts before basing an opinion. So you trust a corporate brand like Trek over Gwin?! That wouldn't be my first impression, especially with the unprofessional moves made by Trek afterwards. Who knows what Trek did to him.
  • + 1
 I think jumping brand after signing for another brand is just not right, just as if Trek had dropped Gwin and signed another rider after signing a binding LOC - it just isn't right. It's not a case of big corporate body v individual- it's a case of right v wrong and despite the fact that he's an awesome athlete what he's done here is not ethical or equitable. I'm no more a Fan of Trek than Specialized - that said Specialized are slimier than a very slimey thing ! If he had left at the endof his contract - that's cool - but notthe way he did it.
  • + 1
 He didn't "sign" for trek. He merely stated he "intended" to ride for them...
  • + 1
 We don't really know anything. All I do know is that TWR is acting unprofessional. Smells a bit to me. If there was no opportunity given to them for a counter offer this obviously had nothing to do with money. Let's wait and see what comes out... We know very little.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 An absolute pleasure to read!! Well said and all so very true.!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 hurry up and put gwins side of the story up pink bike geez
[Reply]
  • + 1
 sheds light and reason. bravo!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Very nice write up! In F1 they say that's racing anything can happen. Also like the wheel. Sometimes up, sometimes down.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Stellar read Matt. Thanks for the refreshing reminder....
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Matti Lehikoinen needs a hug. That is all.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Really good article, understand what's actually going on now haha
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Excelent article. Very good text!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 what happened to Al Bond?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Thank you for that.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Excellent article.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 that was great!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice bar-hump Gwinny Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 1
 brilliant article.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 good article matt
[Reply]
  • + 1
 it all makes sense now
[Reply]
  • + 1
 gwin on tld now!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Nice article I already wrote it a few days ago in a post
  • + 2
 Care to elaborate?
[Reply]
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