Australian Dean Lucas found himself in the hot seat prior to the 20 minute break for TV, and around that time, the rain increased from a drizzle to a downpour. Many of the on-site fans thought the racing was over with most riders battling to get within 10 seconds of Lucas’ time. That was until his teammate Jack Moir (AUS) put in an incredible run, finding time in the 3rd sector, and crossing the line in 4th place. At that point, the team radioed up the mountain to inform Aaron what had taken place and that a top time was possible.
After Jack Moir came in, Troy Brosnan (AUS) also put down a great run going into 3rd place. It was clear the top guys had a shot. Next up it was Danny Hart (GBR) who was ahead of Dean Lucas until the finish line and he slotted into 2nd before World Cup leader Greg Minnaar (RSA) took to the track. Only 1 second down at the first split, the major surprise came at the 2nd split which showed the South African down by 20secs. An off track excursion had cost him a lot of time, and ultimately a disqualification for an incorrect entry back onto the course. Next up Loic Bruni (FRA) crossed the line for 3rd and so the attention turned to the last man down, fastest qualifier Aaron Gwin who some doubted had the wet weather experience to deal with the conditions. What happened next was simply incredible. Picking up green lights all the way down, at one point 2 seconds up on everyone, Aaron took a historic win in the most extreme conditions.
“The fact that I’ve been sitting here for 10 minutes now trying to figure out how to start off this quote for our press release should explain my feelings after today’s race. It’s hard to find the words; I’m just happy. It’s been a crazy season but we’ve kept fighting through the ups and downs, and this weekend wasn’t any different. It feels good to get that win. Conditions like we had today make the win feel even better. I’m happy for myself, my team, the sponsors that support us and the thousands of fans who’ve been encouraging me all season. Thanks to all of you for the love. I wanted to take this title fight to the last race, and now we get to do that, so let the fun continue!” – Aaron Gwin
The title chase is now just 33 points away from Greg Minnaar in 1st, with Troy Brosnan only 44 points behind Aaron. Mathematically, only Greg, Aaron or Troy can win the title, and it will all go down to the wire in Vale Di Sole in 3 weeks from now.
In this second episode of our off-season series with Gwin, he introduces us to his friend and long-time mechanic, John Hall.
We see the two working together on the trails at Lake Elsinore, California, showing us exactly what a winning duo looks like. And once he’s done tearing up the trails, there’s always time for some fun with his friends.
Aaron joined Specialized for the 2013 season, and although it was a rough year in terms of race results, in many ways it was still a near perfect match-up; Aaron, being multi-time USA DH National Champion and the fastest American downhill racer to come along in at least a decade, and Specialized, a US-based brand dedicated to the pursuit of creating the fastest race bikes and equipment.
After the first year, growing pains were overcome and things picked up dramatically. 2014 would see Gwin take two World Cup victories, one 2nd place result, and a total of five appearances on the podium. For 2015, the momentum continued to build with Aaron bringing home an astonishing five wins (one of which with a broken chain!) and the UCI World Cup Downhill series overall.
“Aaron is a rider unlike any other. His commitment to success is unrivaled, and I have never known another athlete who works as hard and is as focused as Aaron. This past season with him was unforgettable and one for the history books. He will be greatly missed.”—Benno Williet, Specialized Factory Racing MTB Team manager
Aaron himself had this to say, “It’s been a great three years for me at Specialized. I’m very thankful for their kindness, hard work, and continuous support in helping me further my racing career at the highest level. I leave the team satisfied with the results we achieved and will remember the great times we had for a very long time. It’s been an awesome ride and I wish them all the best in the future.”
Specialized would like to thank Aaron for a truly unforgettable ride that will be forever written into the history of our brand and not forgotten any time soon. We wish Aaron the absolute best in his next chapter and look forward to watching him continue to push the boundaries of speed on a downhill bike. Chapeau, Aaron!
The 2015 Leogang World Cup will go down in history. We’ve got all the highlights in one tasty stew.
Fresh from the editing suite we bring you highlights from one of, if not the most incredible races of all time, featuring Aaron Gwin’s logic defying race winning run in all it’s glory, the moment Manon Carpenter crossed the tape and got disqualified, together with the many other incredible moments from yesterday’s Leogang World Cup final.
Masterclass moments from Aaron Gwin on a race day that took its toll on bodies and bikes.
The downhill elite sure won’t be forgetting the Lourdes World Cup in a hurry. The carnage was there for all to see throughout the weekend and on race day there was no let up. The French hill continued to claim its share of mechanicals, punctures, crashes and face plants, with the dry and dusty track full of holes from the continuous use over the weekend.
Catch the thrills, spills and excitement from Lourdes with our finals highlights in the player below.
There was only one rider whose pace truly mastered the Lourdes track, Aaron Gwin. He produced yet another memorable run, combining sheer speed with some creative lines. The winning margin of just under four seconds from home favourite Loïc Bruni was a testament of how good his ride was on a course that was steep, rough and technical.
In the women’s race, no one quite got to grips with the track. Leading qualifier Tracey Hannah suffered a crash and even the winner, Emmeline Ragot, admitted she made mistakes on her way down to recording the fastest time.
This weekend at Mont Sainte Anne, Canada, two-time UCI World Cup Series champion Aaron Gwin will compete on an all-new, 200mm travel bike: The 2015 Specialized S-Works Demo.
“I’ve been on the bike for about a month now,” says Gwin about the completely redesigned World Cup bike he and teammate Troy Brosnan will be debuting at Mont Sainte Anne this weekend. “We got on it right after the National Champs because we wanted to get on it right away for comparison to the old bike on the same track.”
Gwin and Brosnan first got a chance to throw a leg over the new 27.5″-wheeled bike immediately following the 2014 USA Cycling Gravity MTB National Championships in Angel Fire, New Mexico, and found it to be a familiar, but faster, Demo.
“The thing I noticed right away was just how fast it was,” says Gwin. “It’s a really playful bike, but it’s a race bike through and through.” Gwin believes this bike “reacts quicker than any bike he’s ridden before.”
Utilising an asymmetrical design — producing the visually-absent seat tube on the non-drive-side — the radically-new approach to carbon frame construction is intended to lower the center of gravity and keep the frame as stiff as it has always been.
“You can plant it and change directions really quick because of how your feet sit on the bike” Aaron Gwin
“It accelerates fast because of the [lack of] weight and the stiffness.” Gwin says. “You can plant it and change directions really quick because of how your feet sit on the bike… there are not a lot of pivots so when you put force into the bike it reacts straight away.”
One of the interesting points Gwin makes about the new Demo is how the single-sided seat tube allows for easy in-and-out access to the rear shock.
“The switch was really easy and setting up suspension was easy,” says Gwin.”It’s something non-racers might not have to deal with very often. But anyone who races seriously knows how often you need to service, set up and remove your shocks. The access on the Demo makes it so easy, plus I just think it looks rad.”
A floating seatstay keeps the pedalling and braking forces separate, while the standard size 12×135 millimeter axle has been engineered to stiffen the rear end with a square design. However, Gwin says any stiffness gained in the rear end has not added weight. “It’s really light in the rear end, which allows the bike to stay agile. I really like a stiff bike so it’s great to not have to sacrifice any rigidity for the added agility.”
Aaron Gwin qualified second in Leogang at the fourth round of the World Cup, but he flatted during his final race run. Not wanting to miss out on points contributing to the overall season win, he rails the rest of the course on just his rim and salvages what he could.
Rob Warner: “Is there a detective at the finish line, because Brosnan just murdered that course”
Troy Brosnan’s maiden world cup win, at possibly the toughest world cup course on the circuit, Fort William, has been a long time in the making. Two times junior world champion, and a protégé on team Specialized with some of the greatest riders of all time, such as Sam Hill and Aaron Gwin, Brosnan has always been surrounded by the fastest riders on the planet. The 2014 World Cup season has finally seen Troy get up to speed with his superhuman teammates, with top ten results in the first three world cups of the season so far.
Flow: You’ve been the last one up the top of the hill with the fastest qualifier in Australia before, but how was it at a World Cup? Spooky, scary, or were you totally in the zone?
Troy: I Felt Normal. I just tried to treat it like a national round and I knew that’s where my riding should be so I wasn’t spooked.
Flow: How did travelling to the BDS round earlier help your World Cup preparation?
Troy: It really helped me get my bike all set up and ready to go for the World Cup, I had all of my bike settings changed and for the World Cup I just had to adjust my rebound slightly and I was ready to go
Flow: What’s the best thing about having team manager Eric Carter around to help?
Troy: Being an ex-racer he’s really helpful when trying to find lines. He also knows what we need as racers and when to give us some space.
Flow: And Aaron Gwin?
Troy: Aaron is very helpful with racing and finding good lines. We do a lot of runs together to help each other go faster and at the end of the day what separates us in the race is who wants it more.
Flow: Could you see the green time update on the finish banner when you dropped into the arena? How was that?
Troy: Yes! Over the last jump I did see a glimpse of green and my eyes lit up. I wasn’t sure who was in the hot seat so I just hoped I could outsprint them to the line!
Flow: First time racing a 650B downhill bike? What made you decide to try it at Fort William?
Flow: Where do you think you won the race? On the power sections, or rougher parts of the track?
Troy: I feel it was the whole track, I just really felt the flow hitting all my lines and was riding super smooth. Despite saying that, I did have a really good sprint at the bottom!
Flow: After qualifying first, how confident were you of winning the final?
Troy: It gave me a lot of confidence going into the final, I knew that I could do it but anything can happen in a race run. I just did my best and pedalled everywhere and it paid off!
[divider]Troy’s winning run, dissected[/divider]
Troy trains as hard as anyone, and watching his run at Fort William this becomes plain to see. Some riders look clean, effortless almost as they clear gaps and track straight through the craziest of rock gardens. Troy Brosnan is one of these riders, but not through anything other than sheer hard work and determination. We see this at a few points through his run:
Watch the start of Troy’s run 2.01.05. See how quickly he gets up to speed! Troy’s efficient technique on the sprint, working the bars, combined with his near perfect pedal stroke and a high power to weight ratio means that he’s able to get his Demo going real quick, really, really fast. Continuing with the sprinting theme, has anyone else noticed how many riders on the DH circuit don’t actually sprint at every available opportunity, or sit down? If you haven’t noticed this, watch the replay of the Cairns World Cup, and notice just how many riders have poor sprints in the long pedal leading up to the finish. Brosnan however, never misses the opportunity to get even a single pedal stroke in. Have a look at 2.01.22, and how quickly he gets back on the pedals after cornering- unbelievable.
Just after this corner, Troy absolutely blasts through the infamous rock garden section at the top of the track. For a long time the general consensus with downhill has been that the heavier riders are able to monster their way through these sections of track better than smaller riders, however Troy leads to a big questioning of this with the way he is able to flick his bike around the rough stuff to find the right line. When downhill legends like Rob Warner in the commentary box are admitting as much, it’s definitely a theory that’s beginning to gain merit.
Speaking of flicking bikes around, Troy’s handling skills are up there with the Sam Hills and Brendan Faircloughs of the downhill scene. The way he transfers his lightweight figure through the rough stuff 2.02.06 to 2.02.12– amazing ninja skills. This could possibly be attributed to the dirt jumping he does as part of his training, as well as his recently commenced motocross sessions.
Despite the numerous attributes of Brosnan’s riding that put him firmly up there as a contender for the overall world cup title this year, on top of his second to none pedalling and power through pedally sections, Brosnan has the best tuck in the business. With the speeds going too high to pedal through the open, big jump, ‘motorway’ sections of world cup courses, getting aero is no longer something you did on the road bike during training. Troy won by 1.6 seconds, and he might just have just sealed the deal with his far more superior tuck through the bottom section of the course as opposed to Sam Hill. Not buying this aero stuff? Watch from 2.02.23 onwards- you’ll see.
With the Leogang World Cup taking place this week in Austria, what can Troy pull out? Having mixed results there in the past- a crash in 2012 and eighth place there last year, it’s hard to tell, but his confidence will be right up there following his Fort William victory. As it’s another technical and physical track, Troy’s excellent conditioning and technical ability should favour him!
If Troy can keep performing consistently to the end of the World Cup season, could Australia have another World Cup Champion at the end of the 2014 season?
2012 World Champs Leogang Crash video: Second corner in, Troy crashed injuring his shoulder.
At home with Troy Brosnan, back in early 2013 when recovering from the Leogang World Champs crash.
“It’s just a passing tropical shower.” Yep, right. Mother Nature reared her ugly Queenslander mug today and gave Smithfield a true soaking, right on cue for the start of group A downhill practice.
The results were in equal parts horrendous, exciting, frustrating and awesome. With any line choices from yesterday’s track walk going right out the window, riders were faced with a track that changed from run to run. Vision was next to nil by the time riders reached the lower portions of the track, while the off-camber red clay of the Alien Tree was causing havoc up top.
At the end of the day, timed practice showed that Gee Atherton had made it down the hill fastest, with Ragot on top in the women’s. But when the course is more a matter of survival than skill, timed practice results mean nothing at all. Bring on qualifying tomorrow!
The much anticipated start to the 2013 UCI World Cup Downhill season arrived with round one at Fort William, Scotland. An unusually long break combined with atypical dry conditions on a course known for its difficulty added complexity for riders and support crew alike. Aaron Gwin and Troy Brosnan played it somewhat safe by focusing on regaining their race rhythm and dialing-in bike and equipment setup. Both put in respectable top-20 performances with eyes on the podium in coming weeks.