Exclusive: Martin Whiteley and Trek Weigh In On Gwin

Jan 13, 2013
by Julian Coffey  
 
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Interview:
TREK AND
WHITELEY
WEIGH IN


British Downhill Series head honch Si Paton recently sat down with Trek World Racing owner Martin Whiteley (pictured at right). Originally hailing from down under, the Australian is the founder of 23 Degree Sports Management and currently resides in Spain.

Five years prior to forming the 23 Degrees, Martin was responsible for all offroad cycling disciplines at the UCI in Switzerland. 23 Degrees has managed Greg Minnaar for over a dozen years, as well as Sam Blenkinsop, Brook MacDonald, Justin Leov, and Neko Mulally to name a few. 23 Degrees has also manufactured three successful World Cup teams, starting with the Global Racing Team, Team G Cross Honda and now currently Trek World Racing. Martin is also chairman of IMTTO which is an international non-profit organization that contributes to the continued development of mountain bike racing.




  With Aaron Gwin’s very public departure from TWR to Specialized the MTB world has gone wild speculating about what really happened behind closed doors. Can we start with a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of Aaron Gwin, Rich Houseman, 23 Degrees, TWR and Trek?

MW: My company, 23 Degrees, owns Trek World Racing. Trek is the title sponsor but they do more than just write checks and send product. They are very involved in the program and that is very reassuring. Rich Houseman has been Aaron’s agent since I started working with Aaron.

    What is your response to the recent statement from Aaron Gwin: "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."

MW: On the first point Aaron is absolutely correct. He did not break his 2011-2012 Agreement with us and I have never said he did. There are reports out there from people who’ve misinterpreted these things and I’m glad Aaron has come forward to put forward his side, as I will try to do now. Our relatively small MTB community loves a bit of drama in the offseason and I’m afraid we’ve given them this one on a silver platter.

Let me just be quite clear on a key point. From the 9th of August when Aaron signed the 3 year Letter Of Intent with 23 Degrees and up until the 15th of December, I worked tirelessly in putting together a team and infrastructure around Aaron that would allow him to continue with the amazing record of results he’d been accruing. That involves putting together the team sponsors, hiring athletes and staff, all of whom believed as I did that Aaron would be racing for us as we’d not heard anything different until December 15.

bigquotesTo learn this so late, just a week away from the holiday season and with the UCI registration dates looming, was to say the least, shocking. It's hard not to react emotionally to such news and I concede that this is a big part of the issue here: that people have reacted emotionally, including me.

My main objective with releasing our company Statement after Aaron’s announcement of his move to Specialized, was in part to answer the flood of enquiries I’d received overnight (including ones like, ‘What are you doing about this?!’), but also to show our sponsors, investors, staff, riders and fans that we had been totally surprised by his decision to leave TWR, and that we would investigate our options. After all, on one hand I have a star rider who has decided for whatever reasons that he will not ride for us, and on the other hand, I have the interests of those who are engaged by us for 2013 to protect, to ensure their jobs are safe, and that the sponsors have continued faith in my company to deliver a quality race team. That’s my primary obligation, and I realize that the headline for many was the words ‘legal action’, but for me that was only part of what needed to be considered.

    What was missing from the deal that was on the letter of intent but not on the contract?

MW: Neither Aaron nor I are in the position to release these documents publically or discuss their exact terms as they are bound by confidentiality, but the Letter Of Intent included the salary amounts, the bonus program, the events for 2013, and our obligations with respect to costs (travel, lodging, food etc). What it didn’t include at that time are some finer details on individual sponsors for the rider and our team co-sponsors, as they need to be re-engaged. It’s with the strength of Aaron’s commitment to the team that we’re going out to find and engage them. Fortunately we were able to engage all the sponsors we wanted. Naturally this now gets complicated because most of those contracts have been signed and include the name Aaron Gwin as a team rider, so now they have to be all re-done. I’m very happy to report though that we have not lost a single sponsor through all this and so I can stand by my commitments to the people I’ve promised a great ride to in 2013.

The only thing I feel was ever a point of contention between us and Aaron and his manager, was to do with clothing. One month after the LOI was signed, Aaron wanted certain things related to a clothing deal, and I thought we were on the right track. I won’t go into details, Aaron may want to, but for me there was a misunderstanding on which aspects he wanted; a separate clothing deal to the team, a signature line with royalties to him, and an increase in salary. After speaking to his agent in November I felt we had agreed there’d been a misunderstanding, so I sent the team agreement, a Draft document for their input and change. This is normal practice, and usually a rider, or his agent, comes back with any points they want changed. I never heard anything until the December 15 departure email, and this is why I was so shocked.

4 June 2011 Martin Whiteley and Paul Schlitz of Trek World Racing during the 2nd round of the UCI World Cup Downhill amp 4X in Fort William Scotland. Photo by Gary Perkin
Martin watches as his team riders cross the finish line at the 2011 Fort William, Scotland, World Cup race.


    There is a video currently airing from Rich Houseman's kitchen dated 9th August 2012 where we see Aaron clearly sign a letter on 23 Degrees Sport Management company paper thats described as a letter of intent. The following dialogue is then clearly heard:

Cameraman: "Is it a good deal?"
Rich Houseman: "Yes it's a great deal, stay where you belong".

What is your response to that video? What really happened between August and December that made that proposed deal go sour?


MW: Firstly it’s truly regrettable for me that this video was released as it was, and I publicly apologize to Aaron and Rich for that. We have been working on an Aaron Gwin documentary video that we were going to release next month, which we obviously have to shelve now. It featured a lot of amazing riding footage that no-one has seen yet, and some cool behind the scenes stuff at his home in California. This clip was from that project. Our YouTube account is a shared account meaning other people outside of my company have access to it. As soon as I was made aware at 1am in the morning that this was on-line, I ordered that it be taken down. It was, but not before some copies got made. We’re currently pursuing those people with copyright reminders.

But as you say, the dialogue between Aaron and Rich shows how excited they were, as was I, that we had reached such a great deal. This to me was the mood all through those 3 months up to mid-December. My time in Las Vegas at Interbike with Aaron was also like this, and so this is why there is so much emotion out there as the ‘break-up’ was clearly not expected by us.


A move so unexpected that we wonder if Gwin had a chance to clean out his locker?

    What aspects of the TWR program do you think Aaron will most miss now he has departed?

MW: Without knowing the program he is building for himself I can’t answer that. What I do know is that we have been really fortunate since we started this program in 2009 to have the complete support of all departments at Trek that work this team, as well as amazing support from key sponsors like Shimano and Fox Racing Shox who have always placed our team as a top priority regardless of who is signed to ride with us. We have the best product on our bikes, talented mechanics and a great set up in Europe and North America that allows the riders just to focus on their goals. Each team is different, but I have learned a lot over the past 12 years with respect to running a race team and I’m focused on delivering that again in 2013. We’ll be announcing our full roster for 2013 next week, 5 gravity riders who all fit the TWR philosophy.

    When the big teams such as Specialized, CRC/Nukeproof, and TWR are pitched up next to each other at a World Cup or BDS race, will we be seeing pistols at dawn? If so what would your weapon of choice be and who will you have act as your "Second"?

MW: Look, I’ve been in that paddock for years, both as the UCI Technical Delegate and as a team owner, and I’ve always appreciated how social it is. I don’t want to see us like other sports where the team rivalry creates a frosty team area. The fans can sense it and for me that’s not cool. So I don’t want to be fuelling any of this. As I said, we had to consider all of our options, as that’s what a business owner needs to do when you have investors, but I strongly feel that any legal process would be protracted, ugly and have no positive outcome for the sport. So I’ve told my top sponsors and my lawyers that we will not be proceeding with anything. My issue is not with Aaron personally. I have immense respect for his riding and record to date. He is easily one of the best 5 athletes that our DH sport has ever seen and we were privileged to have been on that ride with him over the past 2 years. Would I have wanted to be part of it for the next 3? Hell yes! But he has decided to go this route and I know he will continue to be a formidable competitor.

    When contracts are being drawn up there will always be some negotiations to be held where one party plays hardball to get the best deal for themselves, that’s business. We understand Aaron and Houseman were not even open for negotiation, why would they do that when you could have had an awesome offer to hit them back with?

MW: This is the question I’ve had trouble trying to answer, and why my concerns have been more about the advice and representation Aaron has had. In my career of representing riders, once we sign a Letter Of Intent that covers all the big points, we’re in for the long haul. Your word and the LOI count for a lot. I would then sit down and sort out all the finer details and sign the main contract. That is how it has always been for me. So if I was in this situation with one of my clients, I would have gone back to the team after getting the full form contract and said ‘hey, there are some things here that we cannot agree to, let’s solve them’. That never happened in this case. It makes me wonder how long ago the discussions started between Aaron’s agent and Specialized. So for me, it’s not the break up that hurts, it’s how and when it happened. I just feel this could have been handled better. And yes, I could have handled my reaction to this better.

    The sponsorship program for TWR consists primarily of Trek and several major companies, were you limited to negotiate with Aaron due to timescales and having to approach your sponsors, perhaps cap in hand to secure your star rider?

MW: There was plenty of time in December for us to remedy any issues Aaron’s agent could have had with our draft agreement. All of our main sponsors were signed up and committed prior to him getting our agreement. They have to be. I’m a small company and I can’t have large salaried riders signed without securing financing for them first. And yes, I signed an LOI with Trek prior to the LOI with Aaron, that’s normal.

With this win Gwin has put an unheard of winning stamp on the World Cup circuit 9 of the last 12 races have been won by the Trek World Racing rider.
Gwin's win at the Windham, New York, World Cup race (his fourth race win of the season in a row ) was a major victory for the American rider on a US-made bike.

    Many of your successful World Cup team members were riders you represented through 23 Degree Sports Management. Did you approach Aaron with the offer of managing him. How much easier is it to deal with a rider directly rather than constantly having to go through their manager/agent?

MW: No, that was never a discussion point. A long time ago, when he first joined Yeti, I was made aware of him but at that point I was already maxed out with the number of riders I was representing and couldn’t take anyone else on. In most cases it is much easier for me to deal with an agent because they are one step removed and financial discussions and negotiations can sometimes be sensitive and you want your potential rider or team rider to be focused on training and racing. In fact, I’ve often recommended that riders on our team that don’t have an agent seriously consider getting one. In the case of TWR, we’ve had 11 different riders race for us from 2009 to 2012 and only 4 have been managed by 23 Degrees.

    As the Chairman of IMTTO you were instrumental in bringing in the UCI Super Team status which for a financial sum allows the top 15 teams to register (If any of the top 15 don't register then any team in the top 20 can). There are several major benefits for all UCI registered events from free pit space, free entries, parking passes, rainbow passes etc. You require a minimum of two riders (maximum 10). You must enter your team by January 15th, 2013 with the UCI and list your riders, all their personal info and a copy of the rider's contract. Do you feel you have the opportunity for TWR to rank top 15 in 2013 now that Aaron has left?

MW: Well I’ve been working non-stop since December 27 when we got the legal letter from Aaron’s lawyer saying he would not be coming back, to build TWR2013. I’m excited that last night I locked in my last rider, just in time, so we can announce next week a roster of 5 gravity riders that will guarantee us one of the Elite spots.

    The loss of Aaron Gwin as your star rider will not necessarily free up any spare cash to support another rider as we guess some sponsors may now reduce their investment into the TWR Team, can you expand on this and how it will affect the team and it's immediate future and long term?

MW: Yes, that can be a very real outcome of such a departure and as I’ve mentioned before I’ve had to revisit my relationships with all of my sponsors, review their contract period, financial support and so on, but as I said in my statement, no one rider (or team director for that matter) is bigger than the team. If that were true, Aaron’s departure would have meant the collapse of TWR. I’m happy to report that TWR is financially strong. We will continue with all of our sponsors, the vast majority of whom have not adjusted their financial commitment and this has allowed me to give some new riders an exciting opportunity.

    With the so called transfer window now almost closed, the top riders have all been signed up, therefore this late decision by Aaron Gwin has really left you up the creek without a paddle. At which point in time were you first told and by who? When were you aware that Sam Hill was leaving Monster Energy Specialized, and did that ring any alarm bells for you knowing they would obviously want to replace him?

MW: I’m very happy with the line-up I have for 2013 and while the loss of a talent like Aaron cannot be ignored, I was not interested in signing riders that already have a full CV of Championship titles. As I said in my company statement, we found out from Aaron’s agent mid-December, the 15th, and with everyone going on Christmas/New Year break, well I wish they’d told us earlier, that would have made it a little easier. But the riders I’ve signed were always on our team radar, so we just had to move things up ahead of schedule and bring them all in now, and not wait until 2014.



Will we be seeing Monkey working on a Specialized Demo 8 Carbon in 2013?

    Team Rumours has been busy this winter with his pencil and paper and was spot on with his prediction, is he physic? How was he on inside track before anyone else? Did you contact him to see what he knew?

MW: I would like to talk to the persons actually doing it and not some anonymous sketch artist. You see, this is fun for the fans and media in the off-season, and I was like them at the beginning, I enjoyed trying to figure out the cartoons. But when you are running your own company and have some sensitive negotiations in play and someone is airing that on-line and creating speculation, it’s pretty disruptive. I know we have to live with it for now and I have a pretty good idea who one of them is, but regardless of where they get the info or how, I just need to focus on what we have to do in 2013 and so far some of it hasn’t been predicted by Team Rumors, not yet anyway.

    Will Monkey still be the main wrench at Trek World Racing?

MW: Monkey has been working with me in one way or another since 2001 and he is an amazing talent with a bike. He was completely shocked by Aaron’s announcement and has taken this quite personally. I’m sure Aaron has reached out to Monk. My goal is to keep Monk in the family, but ultimately that’s his call.

    As one of the most consistent rider's agent in the history of downhill mountain biking, we have rarely if ever seen you put a foot wrong. You must now be questioning and analysing how this has all gone so wrong, which elements of his departure were down to you.

MW: I really don’t know. I’ve never heard that Aaron had any issue with me, and my most recent experience with him of having a nice sushi dinner in Vegas and then heading to a show after that, all seemed great to me. I’m a pretty good reader of people so there were no red flags for me, but maybe I was naïve. I have no personal issue with the man at all, he is a great person, very humble and terrific with the younger riders like Neko. Again, I was shocked by this and sincerely felt it must have been others influencing or advising him. I guess I won’t know unless he chooses to reach out to me. I know he called the Vice President of Trek recently and apologized for how it had all gone down, and I respect that. This is the Aaron I know. From my side I feel that no matter what, pitched against one of the world’s greatest riders in a PR, forum war, I’m always going to be painted as the bad guy. In releasing my Statement I realized that this was a risk I had to take, but I put the welfare of the TWR 2013 riders, staff and sponsors ahead of my own reputation. Those that work with me, are represented by me, or know me personally as a friend, have all rallied behind me after the forum onslaught, and that’s what matters.

For me, this issue is over. Aaron is racing for Specialized, there will be no legal barriers to that, and I will focus on getting my team ready so hopefully we can all be trackside in less than five months in Fort William, enjoying what we all love, clearly with emotion, and that’s DH racing.

    Over the last few weeks we can only imagine the pressures you have been put under. What have you learned most from this experience from a personal level?

MW: Not to read the forums after the first dozen hateful comments. It only gets you down, especially when MTB racing has been my life since 1983 and one incident taints the rest of the work done. So I’ve spent my energy over the last 5 days putting together a team I can register with pride with the UCI and that our fans can follow with the same level of enthusiasm they’ve shown us since 2009. Racing is in my blood and that’s all I want to do. Some of the advice I got in the last 2 weeks was great, but some lead me astray. I want to forget all that and move on. There will always be those that will find something to criticize me for, and I just have to accept that and try to remain focused on what I believe to be right for those that depend on me.




bigquotesWe're really disappointed about all of this nonsense. We take our commitments seriously, and expect the same of the athletes and teams we sponsor. We race for two reasons - to help develop better products and to live the racing heritage of the Trek Brand. The current Trek Session was developed with the help of the Trek World Racing Team and as a result is the most successful DH bike today. We're damn excited to keep racing with 23 Degrees and Trek World Racing. The team has been more successful than any other program and we expect that to continue. - Eric Bjorling, Trek Bicycles
















    Can you clarify the roles of Martin Whiteley, 23 Degrees, TWR and Trek Bicycles in all of this?

EB: Sure. Trek World Racing is a team that competes in World Cup racing that is owned by 23 Degrees. Trek Bicycle is the title sponsor of that team. Aaron's contract has been held by 23 Degrees since he joined the team 2 years ago.


    Martin Whiteley said that he was under the impression that Gwin would be racing for TWR in 2013. Was Trek of the same mind?

EB: That was entirely our impression as well. Enough so that we made the announcement to our global retailers and to the media along with 23 Degrees back in August.


    If it is the case that Trek only supplied bicycles and a set amount of financial support for the TWR program, was Whiteley limited in terms of his ability to negotiate and/or match competing offers for Gwin's services?

EB: Re-signing Gwin was a big priority for both Trek and 23 Degrees. We feel that the negotiations were fair and handled in a professional manner from our side.


    On whose behalf is Whiteley threatening legal action against Gwin? As one of the leading brands in the bike world, will Trek assume more control of how they are represented in the future?

EB: I can't speak for 23 degrees. Aaron's contract was not with us. As far as assuming more control, I can't really speculate right now on what's down the road but we're always looking for a better way to do everything. Right now, we're supporting the further development of Trek World Racing.


    Was there any conflict within TWR because Gwin wasn't a 23 Degree represented rider? Is there a disadvantage to one person having the dual role of a team director and athlete representative, or is it an efficient way to do things?

EB: There hasn't been an issue to date. There was no advantage or disadvantage. It was in everyone's best interest if Aaron won and from our side the relationship seemed fine. We didn't feel that we were losing anything in the way of efficiency.





Gwin with Neko Mulally (left ), Monkey, and Justin Leov.

    It isn't often that we see a rider in his prime leave such a successful program. Did TWR have a Plan B formulated, in anticipation of potential problems signing Gwin?

EB: We had announced that we were bringing another top tier rider to Trek World Racing prior to all of this. It was only to make the team stronger as a whole. There was no Plan B as we didn't have any reason to believe we needed one.


    The TWR cross-country program has been cancelled and now Gwin is gone – is there a bigger picture that we are missing? Is it Trek’s intention to scale down its presence in World Cup racing this season?

EB: Not at all. The plan for TWR to focus on DH was a strategic decision, not a reactionary one. We had a number of high profile riders on the XC side that received significant interest from other brands and teams and we've had to do some roster management. We'll be ready to announce our XC plans in the very near future.


Sean Heimdal on Gwin.

Sean Heimdal has run the Team Monster Energy-Specialized program as the team manager since its inception, as well as the Iron Horse/Mad Catz outfit prior to that, adding up to a decade of as Sam Hill's team manager. While the official word hasn't been released yet, there is a good chance that he will now be managing Gwin's race team. We checked in with Heimdal to get his take on things.

The signing of Aaron to ride for Specialized made some huge waves, with many people being taken by surprise.

I have to agree that this was some pretty heavy news, and I can't remember anything having such a big impact within the "downhill" community... It'll be nice when all the facts come out!
Team Monster Energy - Specialized is run by you, but Aaron is a Red Bull athlete. Does this mean he might be on a 'satellite' team of sorts? Will Aaron be pitting out of the same tent?

Final plans are still being discussed and things should fall into place very soon.
Will you be running Specialized's own World Cup team?

I'd love to be involved on some level, but you'll have to wait a bit longer to find out.
Can you tell us if Gwin has had a chance to ride a Demo 8 Carbon yet? If so, were you present?

He's definitely had a chance to throw a leg over a Demo 8 Carbon - I was present at the time. His initial comments were very positive, and Jacy had to pry him off the bike because he didn't want to give it back... It felt good knowing that everything was nearly spot-on straight away and Gwin's grin spoke volumes for how he felt about it.

    It has been said by a few people that the storyline of an American rider dominating the DH World Cup on an American made bike hasn't been taken advantage of enough in a marketing sense. Care to comment on this?

EB: We spent a significant amount of time and resources marketing Aaron and our relationship with him and feel that it was successful. The brand is bigger than just one athlete and that may lead people to believe we fell short but in the end that's their opinion.


    Historically it seems Trek's MO has been to come in at the height of the sport and back one high-profile heros such as McCaul, Armstrong and Gwin to dominate. Would Trek now consider investing in a development-type program with a mix of both established and up and coming athletes, similar to the successful Santa Cruz Syndicate?

EB: I would disagree with that. If you look at our history with athletes, the focus has always been on development and long-term relationships. Cam McCaul has been with us for nine years, Brandon Semenuk was 16 when we began supporting him, and Gwin was on his way when he joined but then took off under the Trek World Racing Team. Emily Batty began with us on the Trek Canada Regional Team and is now one of the top females in the world. Katie Compton is crushing the cyclocross scene and raced with us on our US East Coast Regional Mountain Bike Team years ago. We have a great track record of developing riders and I don't see that changing in the future.


Warming up...Justin Leov s had a few rough rides here in Val di Sole but the Trek World Racing rider has that in the rearview mirror as he prepares for this year s race.
Gwin's friend and ex-team mate, Justin Leov, warming up in the TWR pits. He will be focusing on the new Enduro series for 2013.


    Rumours has it that Trek has been testing 650B for DH. With the recent changes, would it be advantageous for Trek to concentrate its resources on technical developments and race testing to gain a future advantage?

EB: Technical development is something that never stops at Trek. Our professional athletes are a significant part of that process. The great thing about competition that it breeds better bikes and that's something that's good for all riders.


    Moving forward, what steps are being taken to ensure there is never a repeat performance? How, if at all, will the structure of TWR change?

EB: This is really a unique occurrence and not something that we believe at this time requires any structural changes. I'm sure everybody has learned something from this.


    Gwin has stated that he gave 100% and full commitment while on the TWR team. Any final words from you guys for him?

EB: We have no doubt that Aaron gave us 100% as a member of the team. It was a fun ride with an ugly ending. We're excited about the future of Trek World Racing and are looking forward to racing in 2013.


Interview questions by Mike Levy, Si Paton, Julian Coffey
Photos by Colin Meagher, Ian Hylands, Keith Valentine, Gary Perkin

Must Read This Week

237 Comments

  • + 208
 This is , so far, is the most informative and frank interview from either side of the issue to date. Great job for not pulling any punches , PB. IMO It's REALLY tough to find a bad guy here. You guys did a great job and I applaud Whitely for being honest. He is in a really tough spot with the sponsors and I feel for him.
  • - 92
 Im on gwins side!
  • + 59
 Now... we can move on...
  • + 29
 What a bunch of drama, glad it's over!
  • + 13
 @ bryantaber - I agree. It's now pretty obvious that Aaron and Whitely are both overall good people and wouldn't want anyone to be adversely affected. Glad to see Trek making a statement too...on that note, if you need any testing done on a 650b DH bike, we would happily help with that Wink
  • - 5
 "Our relatively small MTB community loves a bit of drama in the offseason and I’m afraid we’ve given them this one on a silver platter."


I heartily disagree with this... Mtb is a small community but most of us dont enjoy this "drama"...this isnt some over hyped sport...when people start dramas and speculations on what is going on contract wise then we lose the small town feel... It takes away whats truly important whichs is riding... to put it simply there are tons of football fans have never played football.... basically everyone who follows races are riders themselves... if we start getting "fans"who dont really know the feeling of wind in their face,then ill know its time to hang up the bike and move on ( just kidding on last part... one does not simply stop biking.) Smile
  • + 22
 mtbrider- Most do enjoy this "drama" and speculating on these types of things... If people didn't enjoy it then they wouldn't pay attention to it- as simple as that. It's not a bad thing as it shows that people would rather talk about ANYTHING relating to what they like to do even if it is something as silly as industry gossip. I don't get how that ruins any "small town" feel that may have for you... to be honest I don't get what you mean by that because the guy just meant that MTBing is still has relatively small fan base compared to other major, network sports.

Also say that only people who have raced DH should be the only fans of DH is really, really stupid, haha. I know that's harsh to say but to exclude people who weren't lucky enough to race or mtb in general growing up but want to get into it now even if they haven't ridden before only restricts the growth of our sport and prevents more money from coming into it. At the end of the day the more people who watch means more ratings which means really happy sponsors that feel their brand is being exposed to a bigger audience which translates into more money for them to sink into not only riders but sponsoring events with bigger purses. After all sponsors are companies that look towards athletes and events as alternative promotion for their brand.
  • + 24
 i follow brook mcdonald on instagram and he was riding a twr session in his latest photo. Just saying....
  • + 3
 yup neko's bike and gear in rotorua NZ.
  • + 3
 Everyone loves the banter, it's more compelling than the actual racing actually!
  • - 24
 I just don't see why there is so much drama going on about the Arron Gwin move, why can't trek just be mature about it like specialized was about letting Sam Hill go?
  • + 17
 Ian, did u even read the whole thing? TWR is fine with his departure, only the way it was done caused such havoc. Gwin said he will continue with trek in August and he changed his mind without notifying his team and manager which would be fair to do. Ofc it is his right not to, but it would be really fair if he has done it.

Also thumbs up for great write up and good explanation from all sides!
  • + 22
 How about we all stop fussing over who's moving where and actually make a fuss about the UCI only giving us 6 World Cups in 2 continents over the course of 3 months...
  • + 8
 SHUT UP AND RIDE YOUR BIKES!!!
  • + 2
 Ik but I don't see why there has to be 7 posts on the homepage about the move.
  • + 1
 my question is, why doesn't trek just have their own racing team instead of going thru 23degrees who own TWR? does 23degrees act more of an agent so trek can just send them money, product and other input so they dont have to worry about finding riders, mechanics etc? im not well educated on the subject so thats why i ask.
  • + 8
 Trek came across as the bad guys for getting butthurt and claiming Gwin had a contract when nothing was signed. Pretty tired of the whole saga now, can we move back to neckbraces or how the UCI sucks?
  • + 2
 I agree ^^^
  • + 2
 @Eric.. whatcha doin' with ma photos?
  • + 2
 I really feel bad for Martin in the sense that he seemed to work really hard and then at the last minute had to go back to all the sponsors and explain what was going on with Gwin and try to get them to re-sign. Definitely a lot of work on Martin's side, I'm sure he would have liked to spend the holidays on a different note. It seems that Monk took it pretty badly, he and Gwin must have had a close relationship.
  • + 1
 @Angryham, its your photo, and its my favourite meme on pink bike! haha
  • + 4
 UCI website sucks
  • + 1
 After reading that article, seems riding bikes for trek isn't even fun. Spesh has the stoke, SC has the Stoke, Divinci has the stoke, CRC has the stoke.... trek has no stoke.... who wants to ride for a stokeless team? Think of Gwin'ner's situation - His manager is shady and he wasn't a fan of Whitley. He's a guy who wants to have fun (but without the monster party like some people we know) so he made the change. Just not sure what his shady manager got out of the switch.
  • + 2
 So I'm checking POD and articles on PB and one of the sidebar ads that pops up is " Aaron Gwin Rides Trek". One comment Martin Whitley makes is that if Gwin was leaving a little more notice would of been nice. This ad is an example of why.
  • + 2
 Just a thought, but when did TWR extend an actual contract to Gwin? I understand that Gwin should have given them more notice, but if they didn't extend the actual contract to Gwin until December, then it is TWRs own fault that they have no time to make adjustments. If they had offered him a real contract in August, maybe he'd still be racing for them.
  • + 1
 I think managers usually get 10% of contracts they negotiate. That would definitely buy the Housecat a big bag of skunk, a couple of 8 balls and a couple of kilos of ice, or whatever he's into these days.

Trek does seem pretty stokeless!
  • + 1
 Trek should have put a real factory backed team together for a guy like Gwin. Else you have your eggs in someone else nest and you get poached. They could have called me up to be the manager.... I'm getting bored at my current job, all the people working with me, they all got the stoke! The team would rock, trust me :-)
[Reply]
  • + 75
 Classy from Martin Whitely. As he said, he was always going to be painted as the bad guy but I think he's sharp and honourable.
  • + 8
 Disagree, his letter stated that Aaron had breached a contract (he hadn't) and that he had acted unprofessionally. It was unnecessary for Martin to say that, and I think in light of the whole situation, that original letter was rather unprofessional. Hope theres no long lasting bitterness because of this.
  • + 5
 I agree, hearing his side definitely shows he isnt what people might have thought. He's got a business to run and you've got to do what you got to do, just like gwin did. Although saying he was going to pursue legal action was a little dirty. No matter what i still wish him and TWR good luck this year, im excited to see who the 5 racers are
  • - 56
 Nah, he is a douche
  • + 30
 I think martin whitely reacted like any other person would have. Anyone of us would have been angry and aggressive towards aaron for mostly causing this situation. I think martin whitely showing these emotions tells us how devoted he is to his company, race team and the sport. For him to take a blow like this and still be enthusiastic for 2013 is great
  • + 16
 Well, he pretty much got left at the altar by himself. Kinda f-ed up. Id be pissed too. Seems unprofessional to me to leave someone high n dry.
  • + 1
 I met him a Fort Bill, he was such a nice guy- getting crowded with interviewers and cameras, yet still gave the time to give us his Autograph and chat to us....
  • - 5
 @jono21 Martin Whitely did not act like any other person would have, most experienced and adept team managers would never create the PR Catastrophe he did, and it's virtually all his fault. I'm not completely convinced he learned a lesson, since he is still making public statements about how Gwin made things so difficult for him, and speculating on when Gwin started talking to Specialized...this is not professional behavior. If he had class he would have just thanked Gwin for his two hugely successful years on the team, made a video like Specialized did for Sam Hill, deal with the mess privately, and concentrate on replacing him instead of pissing in public.

Gwin didn't handle it as clearly as he could have but he was in an uncomfortable situation after deciding he no longer wanted to ride the brand Lance Armstrong was so closely aligned with. Besides, Gwin was a free agent, the it was Whitely's responsibility to make sure he locked up his star athlete and it doesn't sound like there was much communication.
  • + 1
 I love seeing a protour comment on my dash, It really lights up my day

also that's a bit dickish about Whitely
  • + 0
 "no one rider (or team director for that matter) is bigger than the team." These are the exact words that Yeti used when they let Gwin leave for TWR. I know everyone wants to give this situation a no fault rating, but it sounds like Gwin is the dick bag in the situation. It looks like TWR has taken care of all their riders, even before they were at the top of their game. TWR was a big bridge to burn and the rest of the industry will not soon forget.
  • + 2
 @protour really, still with the Lance speculation? that rivers dried up....
[Reply]
  • + 45
 Athertons: "Yoo hoo! Hello! We're over here. Forget about Gwin and Sam, this time we're gonna throw RED dust all over ourselves!"
  • + 13
 DVO: @Athertons: Lime green is where it's at - that colour gives you mega attention!
  • + 2
 Do they get to look sulky in slow mo whilst having dust thrown at them?
(sulking probably down to that stupid radioactive track)
[Reply]
  • + 27
 5 gravity riders on TWR for 2013? Let the speculation begin Wink We already know Neko and Brook are in there...
On a side note, I wish they could release some of this 'documentary' footage' of Aaron riding, he's such an awesome rider! best of luck to him, specialized, and TWR for 2013 Smile
  • + 6
 Yeah definatley, It'll be real cool to see some documentary footage of Gwin!
  • + 1
 good luck with the footy
  • - 7
 Didn't Semenuk mention he might get back into racing in a life behind bars episode or something?
  • + 1
 I'm guessing the 5 riders are:
1 Brook - sure
2 Neko - pretty sure
3 Loic Bruni - hopefully
4 Bernard Kerr - total guess
5 Patrick Thome - decent hunch!

or maybe a female rider? Ragot?
  • + 2
 Bruni signed with Lapierre International, Ragot as well... Wink
P. Thome has been seen with Brendan F. on Scott stuff...

I'd doubt there will be a French rider but could guess F. Payet or R. Thirion (although he is announced with Riding Addiction / Commencal).

--Pat
  • + 4
 Don't be too surprised to see Brannigan on TWR - just a hunch! Go the Kiwi's
  • + 1
 Brannigan looked very promising last season.
  • + 1
 Brannigan is a good call actually.
  • + 1
 I do believe that Brook on a Trek would be dangerously fast. I can't wait till the season starts just to see how everyone will adapt to the new teams.
  • + 1
 Brook for sure, pretty sure Neko will be back with them too. I think those two will have good seasons this year. Maybe Dennis Dertell too? Pretty sure he's a 23 degrees athlete and he wouldn't be too expensive to sign. As for the other two spots... It's not that likely, but it would be awesome to see the Hannah's with TWR... Either way, I think they'll sign a female rider. Martin knows that would help with the Team overall points
  • + 1
 The Hannas would be Sik...
  • + 2
 BullDog, Brannigan, & Wyn Masters, New Zealand takeover..
  • + 2
 I'm assuming by "Gravity Riders" that includes the new Enduro team of which we only know Leov has been announced, so expect to see probably 1 more there, no idea who... So that would leave 3 spots on the DH side and I would wager it's Neko, Brook, and Brannigan, which would indeed present a formidable team of new talent!
[Reply]
  • + 19
 650b session is the most exciting thing I got from that article.

I don't want DH to get like football where everything is intrigue about who plays for who just because the actual sport is just so boring.

Gwin will be riding an 8" travel carbon DH bike whatever happens so it doesn't make any real difference to next seasons racing. I just want to know what size wheels the riders will be on!
  • - 9
 lolwut? football and mtb-ing are my two favourite sports and i don't find either boring to watch. Don't tell me the EPL is boring.
  • - 2
 That's actually been known since an Aaron Gwin interview a few months ago (when he was apparently HAPPY to be moving forward with trek and was being given access to new bikes to test). Oh well... someone else will get the better equipment next year... because Specialized is still very ANTI 650B.
  • - 2
 its not about 650b or not in dh, it's the rider, otherwise why isn't khs in rainbow with WC overall?
  • + 3
 Yes aaron is fast, but in a sport where five seconds seperates #1 from #20 in the results, a new piece of technology that cuts four to six seconds from the best timed runs by riders currently in the top twenty... Well you do the math.
  • + 4
 Interesting theory. Lets see what really happens.
  • + 2
 @Chaindriven, that's the best comment I've ever read.
  • + 1
 The UCI should implement their #2 best rule change and specify 26" wheels for DH, #1 was banning lycra.
  • + 1
 miff, EPL is boring
  • + 0
 Deeight please explain me your logical wheel size math when it comes to Nino Schurter winning world champs on 650B against the who field of 29ers with equaly strong riders?

I'm fine if you want to write it down for me in a formula. Also, I am perfectly fine with an answer in academic construction bkg aim method result.

Let understeer be X, then wheel inertia 2Y, the input force of rocks nr 5 and 23c in 2nd Windham Rockgarden a function of sin 2a. Clipped in factor multiplier 0,04. Riders Center of mass offset in relation to BB 0,56mm be a variable of ...f*ck really.
  • + 0
 2013 will be the year Specialized eats all it's words and finally realizes 650b belongs in mtb.
  • + 1
 Protour - Next week it's gonna rain in my town. I've been out and saw two dogs shagging in the street and dogs always turn their ass to the wind. Everytime it blows from north it's raining few days after.
[Reply]
  • + 22
 Si paton always keen to drop a few "BDS" references at any chance ha!
[Reply]
  • + 10
 Obviously I'm only going off what I've read above but here is my take:

Both Gwin or his agent and Whiteley acted unprofessionally at some point in all this. Gwin and agent should have said from the get go they weren't happy with the letter of intent and not acted like everything was 100% ok by signing it. Also maybe given Martin a bit more time to sort his roster out for the 2013 season.

Whiteley should never have said he was going to pursue legal action but I guess he was pretty emotional about Gwin jumping ship so close to transfer deadlines and when he thought Aaron was totally on board. The interview here shows how cut up he was about the whole thing and to be honest if it paints anyone in a bad light its Gwin or his agent.

Can't wait to here Aaron's in depth interview. I'll be interested to see how he manages to avoid the words more and money and maybe cooler clothes and helmet sponsor.
  • + 0
 Here is something to think about... Maybe back in August, that deal seemed pretty good... But, once Sam went to CRC and Spec started to court Gwin, the game changed. Before that, both sides were on a fairly level playing field. But, once there were two parties bidding on Gwin's services, Gwin was in control. Martin could have avoided this by wrapping up that 3 year deal prior to Sam leaving Spec.. As for Martin, his press release was a stupid thing to do.If his first PR had read more like this interview, he would have saved some face publicly..
[Reply]
  • + 7
 personally i don't think Gwin behaved very professionally by telling TWR he was leaving so late, it doesn't suggest he has much respect for the team who helped him achieve so much.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Si dropping some nice publicity as always Wink and personally I reckon trek should release this documentary footage as means of a 'farewell video'! Think it would be a great form of closure on the entire situation and some great viewing!
[Reply]
  • + 7
 Not really related to the artice, but is it possible for these style articles to be formatted diffently on the mobile site? They're a bit of a pig to read.
  • + 0
 not awful to read for me personally, but I can't stand how you only get to see half the picture, especially in bike reviews
  • + 1
 turn your phone sideways, it formats better
  • + 1
 Mine was, but there were still some buts that I couldn't get th show fully.
[Reply]
  • + 9
 everybody needs to read this article
[Reply]
  • + 5
 They were going to release an Aaron Gwin documentary!?! Im gutted that that will never get released now! They should turn it into "A History with Aaron" or something like that. I for one really want to see it though
[Reply]
  • + 6
 Great article hitting all the right spots. Totally impressed. Much better than the empty platitudes from the last one. Good job PB!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Finally this has been put in place, massive props to martin and trek for been so forward and open with this. The only thing left now is to find out from the man himself what happened when he can talk about it openly about his choice to go over to specialized/tld and how he went about the process of contracts.

It seems like while the situation was sticky it it was handled very well by Martin, it's good to hear there will be no legal action on the matter. Martin is such a big part of cycling it's good to know he won't be preoccupied with legality and instead will be focused on what he does best.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 What exactly do they mean by American made bike? Do they mean designed by an American company? Is the Carbon bike made in the US? I thought Trek no longer made their bikes in the US or North America? Anybody got the answers?
  • + 6
 Their carbon frames are made by Trek in the US.
  • - 3
 why bother? it adds cost and taiwanese carbon is just as good if not better...
  • + 13
 Trek makes their 9.9 Session and their 6 Series Madone road bikes in Waterloo, WI.
  • + 5
 Does anyone know what they make in the Canteen ?
Perhaps Jam sandwiches ?
  • + 2
 @ finnrambo It's all about caring for the earth in my opinion. I think it's worth it to pay the extra money supporting as local as you can wether it is in your town, state, region, country or continent. I have nothing against the Taiwanese people or any people for that matter. It is because i have great love for all people and the natural world that i try to live this way. Capitalism has never been sustainable and sadly global capitalism just compounds all the negative aspects involved with it. I know i can't get all of my bike parts made within the country that i live but i do the best i can. The Taiwanese should ride their carbon and we should ride north american made carbon products(if that's your thing). It's our responsibility as fortunate consumers to take this into consideration. Americans always complain about high prices because in this day and age we rarely pay the true value for goods wether we're talking bike frames or hand made furniture. Sorry for getting off topic. Go Aaron and Go TWR! Thanks for the answers. Thanks to Trek for continuing to make some products in the US.
  • + 9
 "caring for the earth"...with carbon fiber.
  • + 1
 Trek's high end frames are made at their headquarters. Most big companies are like that.
  • + 1
 Not specialized... They are a big company that has always used foreign production. The carbon bikes all come from china. Even the original stumpjumpers thirty years ago werent us made. The frames came from japan.
  • - 4
 Actually Mike Levy, the caption under Gwin's photo needs edited. No Trek frames are made in the United States. It is clearly written on their frames that they are "built in U.S.", this can mean assembly however is in no way, shape or form "made in U.S.". Shred-i, there are no carbon frames made in the U.S. that are worth a penny even. Even if they were, the carbon footprint is at least three fold compared to an aluminum frame. I know that I don't want that here in the United States, but that's my inner tree hugger coming out. Again, Trek frames are not made in the United States.
  • + 0
 dee eight also lied. Specialized carbon bikes all come from Taiwan, just like most of the other brands.
  • + 1
 Just putting it out there i said "(if that's your thing)" it's not mine i prefer to be physically stronger and carry a few extra grams. You just want something to yap about norcalwannabe. It's not just with bikes, i go through that thought process with all my purchases and even before those questions i ask myself do i even need it in the first place. I just do the best i can towards that end.
  • + 3
 @dualsuspensiondave you might want to check on that. Actually, you totally wrong, TREK manufatures a lot of their bikes in the USA. Over 20 of TREK's top end models are manufactured in the US of A.
  • + 1
 Yeah, many Trek carbon frames are still made in the US. That said, my Remedy 9.8 is not, which makes me think that the Sessions might not be either.
  • + 3
 Again Trek makes their Session 9.9 and all their 6 Series Madone road frame in their factory in Wisconsin, until 2010 all carbon frames were made in the US, and the end 2010 Trek Installed testing facilities in Taiwan and China, in 2011 Trek started making carbon frames overseas to try to compete with Specialized because they have always made ALL their frames overseas. How do I know this because I have been to the factory in Wisconsin, Have you?
  • + 1
 I have not been to the factory in Wisconsin. What I was told from the owner of two Trek stores in town, was exactly what I said before except I do now recall his talk that they are also painted in Waterloo as well. The FTC regulates product with the the ability of how things are marketed and worded depending on the percentage of the product actually made where a manufacture claims it is. If what you say is true, then the "built in USA" slogan shows that the carbon comes from overseas and the components on the bikes are made overseas as well. Layups could be done here as well as you are claiming.
  • + 1
 @dualsuspensiondave

Island of Taiwan = Republic of China, the result of the nationalist government forces that fled the people's revolution (ie, retreated as far as they could go)

China on the mainland = People's Republic of China, the result of the people's revolution succeeding in taking over the country from the former government

They can call themselves seperate countries but until Taiwan formerly declares independance, they're really one country. The government of the mainland may consider the island the breakaway province or whatever and complains whenever some foreign government either recognizes the other china, or whenever the USA does it especially, sells them military hardware, but for all intents and purposes, they're just like squabbling inlaws. Both governments allow pretty free and easy travel back and forth for its citizens and especially their money including investment back and forth by companies. The majority of the best carbon makers for sports are located in the PRC though, and while the factories in taiwan might be assembling Specialized frames... the carbon fiber itself is coming across the straight of taiwan from the PRC to the ROC.

Specialized is owned 49% by Merida, and all their frames are produced by Merida, and while Merida is a Taiwan-headquartered and founded company, they have factories in both the ROC and PRC and share production between them and only by asking Merida are you likely to get a real answer as to which specialized models got made in the ROC or the PRC. If you want to believe they're ALL made in the ROC, well... ok... be naive.

Or you could just READ... the information is out there on the internet already...

inrng.com/2012/02/who-made-your-bike
  • + 1
 Taiwan actually builds quality these days. Pretty close to Japan's standards. Just because they were once the same country, doesn't mean that made in Taiwan is even close to made in China when considering quality of craftsmanship. One would be a fool to believe that information on the internet. I understand that you hate Specialized deeeight. No worries, I can also judge Trek for their local lack of service locally and broken frames not warrantied. Not the case everywhere though I would guess.
  • + 1
 @ElVenezuelan Yes I have. I toured the entire Trek factory in 2001. Thanks for asking.
  • + 1
 @dualsuspensiondave Wrong again, TREK is one of the best companies I have worked with for warranty claims. They usually deal with everything promptly and don't have any issue with legitimate warranty claims. In fact I use it as a selling feature selling TREKs as they are so quick and painless. I run the warranty department at the shop I work at so I deal with all the companies first hand. And if you understand their process, you would know that there is no such thing as "local lack of service" when is comes to warranty as they deal with everything through the same warranty reps no matter where you are.
  • + 1
 If this is what you call customer service. This is my friends bike, or what's left of it after less than two months of ownership. We live on a very flat part of the U.S., and out local trails are fun but nothing that should break this bike. Not only should the bike have lasted, Trek should have given him a new one. It took Trek three weeks to even tell him that they would not replace it. The owner of the bike spent about $20,000 in the local TREK store in just this one year between this bike and his Session 9.9.
Picture of the aftermath:
www.pinkbike.com/photo/8709691
  • + 1
 Looks like the typical result of casing a jump. How is crash damage something trek should warranty ? He even admits how he broke it "going 30mph and hitting something that stops it". Crashes = rider error or abuse. They are not design flaws. They are not premature fatigue. They are not defects in manufacturing. Very few if any manufacturers REALLY cover crashes, and at best they offer a pro-rate deal on a replacement frame if you crash it. Ford doesn't give you a new mustang if you smash it into a brick wall at 30mph. Why should bike companies give away free frames when YOU yourself are responsible for the failure.

I myself brought a 5 year old Gary Fisher frame with a fatigue crack in the chainstay into a trek/fisher dealer that I've never bought a bike from, and without even asking to see a receipt for it or anything, they said they'd check with Trek, and while it took awhile, 3 months later I walked out of that store with a brand new frame. Cost to me. Nothing. I even got to keep the old frame (albeit now cut in half with a hacksaw) and it ended up being a nice addition to a bonfire. I have the smelted aluminium ingots from it in a bucket downstairs.
  • + 1
 That's some bullshit paper thin Trek frame is what it is. They guy didn't hit a wall with it. The bike was used for what it was intended for, simple as that. I would be willing to bet a Carbon Stumpy EVO would not have broken at all in the first place. Even if it did, the Specialized customer would likely have a replacement within a week if not less time than that. I've seen Trek replace some old Gary Fisher's as well, took over two months and one of the replacements had an ovalized head tube from the factory.
  • + 1
 If it was used for what it was intended for, how did it end up with a lyrik on it ? Trek designed the remedy around a 150mm travel trail fork, your buddy put a 160+ travel singlecrown FR/DH fork onto it. Right there he voided the warranty. Longer forks put additional stress onto the frames than they were designed for.
  • + 1
 ^^People like this are the reason not to buy a Trek. An extra 10mm of travel would not cause a bike to break in three pieces. The trail that the bike broke on is literally a joke for a Lyrik, and any trail that it was ridden on. We don't have even AM terrain around here. Just a thin piece of plastic, but this is well known with the carbon Remedy.
[Reply]
  • + 8
 2013 probably THE best season of them all ?
  • + 6
 It's still like 5 months until it starts Razz
  • + 7
 there's only 6 races. In my books it can't be the BEST season eva for that reason alone.

I just don't understand that rationale for such a short season. Are the venues not up for it? Or the UCI not bothered? Or the teams/ sponsors too limited for cash?
  • + 1
 Agreed the season should be longer. More world dates. It seems more like the Euro cup sometimes.
  • + 2
 As an avid fan, I honestly believe that this 8 month off season is unhealthy for the sport. It's 2013 already and there's still 5 months until racing begins, and then only 6 races! The UCI needs to look at what the public, the sponsors, and racers want to fill this void going forward!

Doesn't it seem like the timing would be perfect to hold 3 races downunder between Feb and April which still leaves plenty of time for athletes to train in the off season (Oct-Jan) and the business folks to do their thing?

There need to be more races, an end to the 8 month winter hibernation, and for the world cup to be truly a "World" event, it needs to expand beyond the northern hemisphere some more and include a schedule and regular fixtures below the equator.
  • + 1
 Here here mattpatt! That's a great plan, there must be some excellent choices in Aus and NZ for tracks.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Sorry Si but I gotta say it's a heck of a lot easier reading your interviews than watching them. Great questions and well structured, PB.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Food for thought- I can't help connect that Jacy and Sean H may have told Sam- "Hey, guess who rode a carbon demo 8 and liked it?" Possibly triggering Sam to hit 'refresh' on his sponsors. Chess move theory. One star rider departs, while another swtiches, I dunno- I'm just trying to start a conspiracy theory. SAM DIMAS HS FOOTBALL RULES!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 I'm not going to take a side in this, rather look forward to the racing that will result from it. I'm pumped on the latest batch of articles covering this topic though... Good press PB.
[Reply]
  • + 5
 Glad to see that the whole debacle is kinda coming to a close. Best of luck to both parties in the upcoming season.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Speaking for the brits, I'm hoping gee has got his fury running to his liking and has substantially more luck than last year.
Thus proving that surprise team jumping isn't what you need to do to win. (Yes i do realise what I just said Smile )
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Really have respect for MW now because he admitted he acted emotionally to the news . And more for Aaron Gwin because he called and apoligized about all the fuss. I'm glad that in the end they all were professional about it.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Wow .. I have a feeling Whitley was told to back off with the legal action comments.. Looks like he was really worried about losing sponsors for his team when Aaron left and panicked. Glad to see there will be no legal problems and we can see both Aaron and TWR concentrate on the upcoming season.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Amazing insight to the business side of the racing world. I've never heard of Martin Whitley before, but I'll remember him now - that guy is gracious, brilliant, and generally a cool dude. I can already tell that TWR will do just fine.
[Reply]
  • + 4
 For fucks sake, can they please stop. I feel like reading why Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes got divorced or some shit.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 good article thanks pb
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Athertons in their prime, sam hill with CRC, Gwin with Specialized, Minaar doin work with Santa Cruz, I'm gonna pee my pants this season will be sick!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 blah....blah... so over it !!! Trek should get rid of "Whiteley" and run there own DH team. On the other side cant wait to see Hill ripping the NUKE!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This simply sounds like a poor way of covering his ass after acting like a tool. He was pretty quick to come out and brandish Gwin's name and reputation all over the internet but as soon as the public reacted to this and Gwin's own reply, he's now taking it back saying it was a misinterpretation. Stuff like this happens all the time in F1, Soccer and any other professional sports. The facts are Gwin wasn't firmly signed to TWR, TWR didn't give Gwin the offer he wanted so he went elsewhere. If they didnt want him leaving TWR would have matched what Gwin was asking for to keep him there.
  • + 5
 Did you not read that TWR wasnt even given a chance to match what he was asking for?
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Who else still would like to see that Aaron Gwin documentary video, just as a celebration of Aaron being on the team and winning the world champs for the past 2 years.
  • + 6
 Except he didn't win World Champs either year...
  • + 1
 *overall championship
  • + 1
 Agreed on wanting to see such a documentary video. His ascent from raw super-talent with Yeti to domination with Trek has been great to watch, brought more attention to our sport here in the US, and will no doubt raise the level of racing moving forward. Gwin's not my #1 favorite rider, and everyone at the top is very professional and dedicated, but what he was able to do in the last 2 seasons was pretty special. It'd be nice to have a peek inside what went into such a performance!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 GREG WILLIAMSON MY M8 WHO I RIDE WITH AND BUILD DH TRACK FOR [ALONG WITH RONAN TAYLOR SCOTTISH CHAMP] JUST BEEN SIGHNED FOR TWR ,,,,!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO GREGY GO ,,,YOL GUNA AV 2 KUM UP AN RIDE SUMOF OUR DH TRAKS FOLKS
[Reply]
  • + 0
 I bet you Sean Heimdal is heavily involved with Gwin's “manager” Rich Houseman. He lives very close to Sean Heimdal and they've known each other for literally decades. I've Known Heimdal for years and trust me he's very slimy. Knowing He loves being elusive you can tell he had a heavy hand in this operation by reading his statement.
  • + 8
 Care to elaborate on your accusations Jonny? I worked rather closely w/ Sean Heimdal on a daily basis for 5+ years and have remained friendly with him since we stopped working together about 4-years back. Sean always worked on the up-and-up with me and all of his team sponsors. Even on the occasion when he was screwed financially by sponsors, he had the riders paid before himself. Sean's programs have had a lot of consistency in sponsors, riders, and staff over the past 11-years. You don't get that consistency being "very slimy". If you have a personal beef w/ Sean take it up directly with him instead of making one-sided accusations in a forum.
  • + 0
 that may or may not be true, but he seems dodgy to me
[Reply]
  • + 0
 This pretty much just goes right along with what I've thought from the beginning. Gwin did what he thought was best for him but it seems he and his agent handles things very poorly. And TWR for their part in reacting the way they did was what they felt was in their best interest after Gwin screwed them over. I mean I like Gwin, but if this is the way it went down, which he hasn't flatly denied yet, it wasn't handled well at all.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Martin Whitely should know better than anyone that an unsigned contract counts for nothing regardless of a signed LOI. To then throw his toys out the pram when the unsigned rider leaves his team and publicly berate and threaten legal action just shows how unprofessional he's being and not Gwin. Culminating in a carefully worded interview stating what a silly tool he's been. Hats off, ya have to love the drama of it all, lesson learned Mr Whitley!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Theres a lot of open questions here: first: How can you write contracts with sponsors with Gwins name on the paper, when you're not sure if you ever have a real contract with the rider itself, coz' theres only a letter of intent. thats a brave and confident move!!! second: If specialized's intent was to make Trek World Racing uneffective with this move (not being able to get a rider for the season in time) then f*ck Specialized, and there has to be a way to make the UCI get some time for Trek to revitalize and get someone badass to the team.
And the real question: How on earth was Gwin able to leave hes friends and teammates without ever letting them know whats going on? Or did he just got a ridiculously awesome contract from specialized on the last second.
And how does Sam really feel about Specialized dropping him for a better rider ? Coz thats what happened.
Man Im so stoked to have some answers in the future..
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Um, he is riding for Specialized. There was never anything Trek could have done about that. They never needed to bitch so much about it. A World-Cup-winning team manager would have already found another lead rider!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Ah please!! Martin Whitely is honest and upfront??!! What a load of bull! He is as deceptive as the next businessman trying to make more money. He probably released that video of Gwin singning the LOI himself!! What's this nonsense of "it's a shared YouTube account". He tried to discredit and dishonour a rider who he has made plenty of money off and threatened legal action. Aaron's lawyers probably told him to shut his mouth or they'd clean him up!! I have never heard anything good about him, but we'll see what happens in the pits this year.
  • + 1
 Agreed! Haha no pun intended
  • + 2
 In this interview he seems fairly upfront, he did admit letting his emotions over take the situation. The situation could have gone significantly worse. I don't see Gwin discredited in anyway, he is obviously unhappy and surprised at the situation but i think that's reasonable given the situation, there was all intent to be signed with TWR and neither Gwin or his agent (at least as far as we know) made it clear that gwin was been head hunted or looking around to make a decision this late and without warning to TWR is pretty ballsy and some may consider that it was a little sly of gwin and unfair to pull a switch so close to the closing dates.

I'm not saying I feel that way but you can see how it can be seen from that perspective too.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Wow, I even got tired reading over all the "trek aron specialized" saga... Now its time to race! Its going to be an interesting and exciting season!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 A really thorough write up.. I`m glad I could read this. I understand both/all sides now. Aaron`s, Twr`s and S`s.
It makes sense.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Gwin is a great rider enough said. Steve peat and Sam hill are great champions lets focus a little more on the legends.Shall we?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 @JCoffey, if you're going to an article with Gwin's name all over it at least you can spell his name correctly throughout.
  • + 13
 Thanks for catching that - fixed.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Don't care about your team, his team..as long as you provide the Champion rider that's what we are waiting for...Goodluck AG & SH.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Sounds like Gwin was just done with Trek. Good article. And nice to see everybody attempting to keep a cool head when I know emotions are most definitly high.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 what is this? Moby Dick?...can someone sum this up in a short paragraph please?...actually never mind..it really doesn't matter
jeeze! write a novel why don't you
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  • + 3
 Monk for specialized no way
[Reply]
  • + 3
 this issue is over. Aaron is racing for Specialized
[Reply]
  • + 3
 This article title should be: Martin Whiteley pedals his Trek backwards.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 great interview. this clears a lot of things. moving forward, who are the other riders in TWR?
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Enough of this crap. I need a Peaty vid!
[Reply]
  • - 2
 Well just plain games. If you gonna extend time to sign new contract,just because you are too greedy don't be surprised someone will it... do if you not. If any Aaron climbed on this level, the all behaving just telling you someone playing games. You got what you give,and it's just mean how it's sounds.
  • + 2
 What the hell does that even say?
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  • + 0
 Did no one besides me notice that monk is deffinitely NOT working on a Specialized Demo 8? That was the biggest mistake in this whole article. Forget gwin or trek...
  • + 1
 Muchos appologies. i was on mobile and it only showed half the pic. sliced off both ends so i didnt get all the text. only thought i had
[Reply]
  • + 1
 ... your just lost your Trek sponsor next year with your actions on this. Ego all the way.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 UCI should adjust the start of this season they should start if early. 5 month wait is just too much!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I read that entire article- not because I'm interested but because my desk job is sooooooo dull.
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  • + 1
 www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoTzLLZMrKc

.....is all I have to say to this whole issue
[Reply]
  • + 1
 He's going to end up back with trek next year anyway so why make a big deal?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 absolutely zero interest in this, and all the $-obsessed aspect of the sport
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I think Gwinn screed twr over ! I lost respect for him, great rider but totally unprofessional
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'm so glad Gwin and Whiteley have both been able to handle the situation in an informative and profession manner.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 i support the riders, not the companies they ride for, cant wait for this season to start
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  • - 1
 "Gwin's win at the Windham, New York, World Cup race (his fourth race win of the season in a row ) was a major victory for the American rider on a US-made bike."

Did anyone catch this typo too? US-made bike my ass...
  • - 1
 And again...

"It has been said by a few people that the storyline of an American rider dominating the DH World Cup on an American made bike hasn't been taken advantage of enough in a marketing sense. Care to comment on this? "
  • + 3
 You are right, this needs edited. If it would have been said like that from Trek, it could have been a legal nightmare. No Trek bikes are made in the United States, rather a select few are built in the United States. Built in the United States is completely different than made in the United States. Built in the United States means assembly (pressing in a headset, installing cranks, etc.), not manufacturing the frame. Good catch nydownhiller! Let the dumbass people continue to think differently and neg. prop you.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I dont like that dudes facial hair... Im sticking with Gwin. Funny how things totally got blown out of proportion though.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 come on release the documentary itll be sick to watch and show us your being mature about this, plus i really want to see it!
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  • + 2
 "Hello, Martin? We need some damage control, right away."
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  • + 2
 That is a lot of writting
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  • + 1
 This whole 'controversy' was given legs courtesy of the hysterical fanboys. All in all a non-story.
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  • + 2
 Sounds like Martin Whiteley could not close the deal.
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  • - 2
 "Historically it seems Trek's MO has been to come in at the height of the sport and back one high-profile heros such as McCaul, Armstrong and Gwin to dominate. Would Trek now consider investing in a development-type program with a mix of both established and up and coming athletes, similar to the successful Santa Cruz Syndicate?"

Who is this Armstrong you speak of???
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Click on POD now. What's the background image/advert? Great Athletes Ride Trek...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 My gut feeling is... AG got poached.
  • + 1
 Totally got poached. mtb riders (from what I know) never "sell out" but stick with their grass roots... no matter how skilled, good, or fast they get... it takes roots to grow the amazing tree. but who knows.
  • + 2
 Royalties and products. Gotta think long term finances while your on top. No one gives a fuck after your prime.
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  • + 1
 i want to see that documentary!!!!
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  • + 1
 Couldn't even be bothered to read it - bored of it now!!
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  • + 1
 Can't wait to see bull dog on the 9.9!!!
  • + 1
 Yeah buddy, guna be sick.
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  • + 1
 I call BS. Three year letter of intent??? Covering your A$$....
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  • + 1
 I am just pissed cos I gotta wait 5 months to watch some fookin WC action!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 now i just need to read how specalized got over sam and and signed qwin to take his pace, and this will all be over for me
[Reply]
  • + 1
 what? its all good.... what happened to the angry mob
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  • + 1
 Commercialism.......... Don't you just love it...... NOT!....
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  • + 1
 did anyone notice Batman in the third picture lol?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Fort William can`t come soon enough ! Smile
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  • + 0
 am no even reading about the gwin saga . al ride for ye trek .haha . no wait i am serious really .i am not reading this .
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awe muffin.


How many more months is it until the first world cup race?
  • + 1
 The 1st race would be Fort William this year?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Awesome article, thanks
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Was batter than tv
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  • + 1
 Gwin didn't want to race a 650b?
  • + 1
 In an interview post LOI signing, he seemed quite excited to be testing one of the 650b sessions and claimed to be looking forward to using it at selected events in 2013.
  • + 1
 OK. Thanks.

There must not be a performance advantage to 650b. If there was, I can't imagine Gwin would be sticking with a 26".
  • + 1
 Well that's the thing... he's got a choice of what specialized has available for him to ride, which for 2013 doesn't include anything except 26ers and 29ers. Advantages or not for the third option, he hasn't got the choice to use it when they refuse to offer it.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 One hell of a contract season going here- Let the racing begin!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 give this a rest.....pinkbike
[Reply]
  • + 1
 were, not wHere. and few other mistakes.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Imagining being one of the lucky guys getting signed to TWR!
  • + 1
 my m8 greg williamson who i ride with and buil dh traks for has just been sighnd toTWR
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Keep all this soap opera bullshit behind closed doors for all I care. None of it matters until June the 9th
[Reply]
  • - 1
 Aaron Gwin and Sam Hill at the same BDS round would be great, pull in the crowds a treat.
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  • - 1
 You can only imagine the colorfull language from this gentleman over the last few weeks!
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  • + 0
 Loads.....of.....words......
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  • + 0
 Good to hear the other side
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Blah Blah Blah could not give a flying f@ck about this story anymore
[Reply]
  • - 1
 Whitely: I have NOT lost control, this is still my sport! You can't do this to me! DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!?
[Reply]
  • - 1
 first off brook macdonald is riding for trek just look at the post on vital second specialized is going to e nasty this year
[Reply]
  • - 3
 Sam Hill..... what?!?!
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