Fans speculated wildly for over a month about where the hottest property in mountain bike racing would end up after Aaron Gwin broke the news in a Pinkbike interview last December, that he and Specialized could not come to a financial agreement for the 2016 racing season - and that he had signed another deal. Now, it's official. In the following exclusive video interview, Aaron announces that YT Industries is his title sponsor and that he will be racing for a new team, owned and managed by Martin Whiteley, the same man who Gwin raced for during his record-breaking winning streak with Trek World Racing. Aaron will be joined by Angel Suarez Alonso, a young Phenom from Spain who raced his first full World Cup series last year under the Intense flag.Why YT?
Many insiders were hinting that YT would be Gwin's new team, but logic, dollars, and the fact that Aaron has raced for the sport's most legendary names, strongly suggested that Aaron would headline a mega-brand in 2016. You wouldn't be alone with your presumption if the YT deal caught you by surprise. Those familiar with YT, however, know that the letters are an acronym for "Young Talent" and that the brand was founded upon gravity and freestyle riding, and devoted to providing up-and-coming riders with race-worthy bikes at attainable prices. According to Gwin, he and Angel will be riding the same carbon Tues (say: Too' - ez) that YT sells to the public - which is quite a performer according to both Gwin and PB's Mike Kazimer.
|Literally, every change that I wanted to make to my last bike, geometry wise, was where their bike was now. I kind of had a laugh at that.|
Gwin's choice to join forces with a maverick, direct-sales bike brand from Germany with little World Cup DH experience raises as many questions as its announcement puts to rest. And, if the YT deal failed to pique your curiosity, a quick read of the team's melting pot of supporting sponsors will.
One of the luxuries of being at the top of your game, is being able to pick and choose your sponsors. That said, most of the usual suspects, like Shimano, SRAM, RockShox, DT Swiss, Schwalbe, Maxxis, Easton and Enve do not appear on the roster. YT will be supplying their Carbon Tues chassis, suspension will be Fox Factory, with e*Thirteen wheels and drivetrain parts, Onza tires, TRP brakes, Renthal cockpit items, SDG saddles, Motorex chemical products, and ODI grips. Gwin's personal sponsors are Alpinestars clothing, Red Bull, Troy Lee Design helmets, Giro shoes, HT pedals, Smith Goggles and KTM motorcycles. It is an eclectic mix of seasoned World Cup competitors and up-and-coming brands that will probably need some hand-holding to get up to speed.Team Owner Martin Whiteley
Gwin's ace in the hole is Martin Whiteley. When Whitely assembled the G Cross Honda team
, the automotive giant's prototype RN01 was the only mountain bike it had ever built, its roller-chain gearbox was untested, and its one-off suspension was made by Showa Japan. Riders Greg Minnaar, Matti Lehikoinen and Brendan Fairclough were fresh-faced kids who must have been culture-shocked by the military secrecy of Japanese style racing. But, G Cross Honda podiumed regularly, and earned the constructors' championship twice in a row. By contrast, the corporate sterility that surrounded Whiteley's Trek World Racing team must have seemed like an easy gig, but Gwin's back-to-back World Cup series titles proved that whatever may come, Whiteley can keep a pro-level racing program on point.
Final Thoughts:Gwin and Team YT are scheduled to debut their full kits and race bikes early this week, which we were not allowed to show you, and we are sure to discover more details of the program then. For now, we can only speculate how Aaron and Angel will fare as the first World Cup approaches this spring. I have huge respect for YT founder and CEO Markus Flossmann's grasp of the gravity side of the sport - YT lives it. The diversity of the team's sponsors could become an issue, but far less of one than may have been so in Gwin's earlier years. Aaron seems to have matured considerably in the past two seasons. He has won victories in spite of bad luck and shaky team dynamics, and done so aboard a variety of bikes. He comes to Team YT squarely in the driver's seat, and carrying a lot of momentum. If Aaron comes out swinging for the fence again (and there is little doubt that he will), even if he doesn't win right away, 2016 is going to be incredibly entertaining. - RC
|I have always had a passion for helping the younger kids. I'm trying to give somebody a shot that I feel deserves one and could really take it far. I was just one of those kids a few years ago. Somebody gave me a shot - and here I am. |
, @foxracingshox, @lambertphoto