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It's officially official! Aaron Gwin joins Specialized! (Well, Troy Brosnan says so)

It's officially official! Aaron Gwin joins Specialized! (Well, Troy Brosnan says so)

Billy Thackray Billy Thackray

The internet is going in to melt down as the news that Aaron Gwin is leaving Trek and joining Specialized! But Aaron Gwin’s ex-team manager Martin Whitely is considering legal action!

Troy Brosnan giving a big hint!

Specialized is pleased to announce the signing of Aaron Gwin to the 2013 Specialized DH program. Aaron will be supported with frames and tires. He will be joining teammates Troy Brosnan and Mitch Ropelato.

“I’m super excited to start this new chapter in my career with Specialized bicycles. The entire Specialized staff has welcomed me with open arms and I’m blown away by the level of support they’ve shown me. This is my dream program and I can’t thank them enough for this opportunity. Bring on 2013!”

– Aaron Gwin

“The combination of Aaron Gwin and the Specialized brand have an American storyline written all over it that was always meant to be. Aaron will not only bring another element to the program, but it’ll be amazing watching this trio ripping down the tracks together. We can’t wait to get started with this new exciting opportunity and look forward to the season ahead.”

-Sean Heimdal, Team Manager

“I’m stoked to have a new teammate this year, it will be a fresh start and I will be able to learn a lot of things from Aaron. The season starts late this year and will give everyone time to get to know each other and do testing on the Bike. I cannot wait to work together and smash out runs!”

-Troy Brosnan

“We are really excited to have Aaron on board. He has a lot of interest in product development, advocacy, junior development, and so do we. We are looking forward to a very successful future together.”

-Geoff Rogers, Specialized Sports Marketing

Embargos, wife swapping and broken deals.

The internet has been rumbling for a while with the wife swapping rumours and speculation that are a traditional part of the World Cup off season. The biggest rumour of them all concerned who was going to fill the gaping chasm in the Specialized squad as Sam Hill announced he was leaving to join CRC/Nukeproof?

Aaron Gwin was top of that rumour list, but since he’d recently signed a deal committing himself to another 3 years with Trek World Racing a move to Specialized seemed pretty far fetched.

When we spoke to Martin Whiteley, team boss of Gwin’s ex-team TWR, yesterday he told us: “Aaron Gwin signed a 3 year commitment with us, and we will be filing his name along with other team members with the UCI next week as part of our team registration process.”

Then this morning following the internet explosion, Martin Whiteley released the following statement:

The last several weeks have been a very difficult period for our company as owners of the Trek World Racing program. Despite the fact that on August 9 of last year, Aaron Gwin signed a legally binding Letter Of Intent with our team for the next three seasons, his agent wrote an email to the team in mid-December stating he had decided to race for another bike brand. Mr Gwin confirmed his agreement with our team in public statements, and he and his agent repeatedly confirmed the existence of, and commitment to, the agreement in written correspondence with us. Yet, only weeks before the team was required to submit the official team roster to UCI, Mr Gwin informed the team that he was abandoning TWR in total disregard of his contractual obligations.

The team reached out on several occasions in December in order to try and remedy whatever concerns Mr Gwin had, but these were ignored until the team received a letter from his Attorneys on December 27 stating he would not ride for our team. In the interests of the team and our sponsors, we are actively pursuing all options open to us at this point, including legal action, and remain completely surprised by Mr Gwin’s unprofessional actions.

Team Director Martin Whiteley says: “This has not been an easy time for us. In the bigger picture however I find positivity in the fact that the Trek World Racing program will continue regardless of the outcome of this dispute, as no single rider is bigger than the team as a whole. Every rider who has been on our Downhill program has had the best years of their career with us, and we will continue to bring on talented riders. The team has a history of helping riders win who had not previously won, including Aaron Gwin. It’s our intention to continue that type of record with new talent. I would personally like to acknowledge the complete support and loyalty we’ve received from our title sponsor Trek Bikes who have been unwavering in their commitment to the program since this news broke. In the interests of the fans, we hope this matter will be resolved sooner rather than later”.

The line, “…we are actively pursuing all options open to us at this point, including legal action, and remain completely surprised by Mr Gwin’s unprofessional actions.”

suggests that this isn’t the end of the matter. Is this going to get messy? Has Gwin acted in an ungentlemanly manner?

And what about the sponsors? Specialized have said frame and tyres. So will it be Fox/Shimano or SRAM for suspension and running gear. Gwin is a Red Bull athlete so will Monster Energy be apart of the package?

Here’s hoping it’s all resolved before the opening World Cup at Fort William on 8/9th June.

Photo: Seb Schieck

Gwin Specialized

@team rumours, on the money again!

Featured in this post

  1. Dicko

    And the Specialized hype machine rolls on…

  2. savdog

    spesh just became my least favorite bike brand !!

    1. dirt dodger

      erm, shouldn’t that comment be aimed at Gwinn? What a dick he has proved himself to be! All spesh have done is signed a rider.

  3. johniedamn

    TWR just call me……

  4. Part Time

    Hmmm, looks like this one could get interesting, Martin Whiteley’s response as posted on Ride.io


  5. matt

    well i cant see him going back to trek after they’ve threatened him with legal action. and seeing as they probably haven’t paid him yet it would be hard to make the case

    1. Hancock

      If Gwin’s signed a contract it doesn’t matter whether Trek have started paying him for this year or not. It would be hilarious (although also a shame) if TWR launch their legal challenge, win and it leave’s Aaron sat on his ass all year.
      I think this is the end of Gwin’s winning run, maybe not straight away, but Spesh won’t offer the same level of support that TWR/Whitely have. He’ll win for a while, get hurt and then Spesh will hang him out to dry.

      1. Craig B

        Spot on statement.

      2. Hancock

        So it seems Gwin may not have had a proper contract after all… this could get messy.

      3. Adam P

        To a large degree this is job. Gwin lives in California, where it is hard to force an employee to work, basically you can always quit. The law gives employees protection like that. Saying you can’t quit a job, especially one that hasn’t started is kind of like being slave. Contracts aren’t able to supercede laws built to protect people, at least not in America…It seems like Gwin has probably spoken to lawyers and listening to them, he isn’t talking. Whitely probably isn’t listening to his right now, you aren’t supposed to publicly threaten lawsuits.

  6. Dangerous

    funny video though!

  7. Martin Francis

    Will we see specialised change to Shmano Fox?

  8. Neil B

    Trek may not be pleased with what’s happened (and I probably wouldn’t be either) but whatever goes on behind the scenes should be kept that way and remain professional. Treks statements seems a bit unprofessional saing Aaron Gwin is unprofesional.

    1. Lucifersworld

      I agree on that. Martin Whiteley should know better. I think Gwinn’s attitude towards his profession is more professional as TWR’s is in this case.

      1. Miki

        Utter bollocks. Dumping a 3 year contract at the drop of a hat is about as unprofessional as it gets. Martin Whiteley’s comments seem fair to me. But who knows what was going on behind the scenes. I know Gwin is a big aul’ Christian, so maybe some moral issues with TWR raised their heads in the offseason? I’m not suggesting drugs, but Trek were bound to know about Armstrong’s business years ago.

      2. butter

        Let’s not forget that Gwin didn’t have a contact. He had signed a ‘letter of intent’ which last time I checked isn’t legally binding?

      3. AD

        Sounds like Martin is just covering his butt. He went out and signed other contracts on the basis that Aaron had signed on for another three years when in reality all he had was a letter of intent which is NOT legally binding as any attorney will tell you.

  9. Part Time

    Balls to professionalism, lets have an out in the open slanging match and name calling session!

  10. Dave

    Looks like Sam was pushed, and didn’t jump. They wanted an all American Specialized team that will dominate results. Sam is a foreign rider, who only finished top 5 last year. Looks like the paid the money to get the right nationality on their brand, who is likely to dominate results again this year.
    Gwin has said in several interviews that he is only going to be in the mountain biking sport for a few more years. This is a good way to get paid, get a legacy deal with an american company and generate a bit of media interest. Trek have been terrible in using his name or results to sell bikes and build their brand, they have really missed the boat. Specialized however love to tout their results and promote their “world championship winning bikes” and the all american rider fits in perfectly to their brand image, as did Palmer back in the day. Legal ramifications aside, its a perfect fit.

    1. Duncan

      Addressing your first point, Troy is Australian…

      1. David

        Beat me to it haha

    2. TrekChris

      And to your other point, Trek is also an American company.

    3. Percy

      That is probably one of the stupidest comments I have ever read on the Interwebs. Your whole comment displays a complete lack of knowledge of the subject matter and is utterly contradictory! Wowee!

    4. Cant Climb

      Gwin saying he was only going to be in it a “few more years” was to create leverage and increase his value.

    5. Trip

      Sam wasn’t pushed. His contract ended!

    6. Bretto

      What do you mean all american.They have brosnan. The next best thing to hill go aussies

  11. mike

    There are obvious issues behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Gwin clearly can’t have been happy and Martin must clearly have known this or else he wouldn’t be a manager of one of the top teams in the world.

    Either way – there are always two sides to a story and it always takes two to have an arguement.

    Finally – they certainly can’t go back now…. except trek have no top rider and the season is fast approaching

  12. Matt

    hahaha. sorry. that made me laugh.

  13. Big Al

    Trek is a tainted company after the Lance Armstrong debacle. Gwin is right to swap over teams. He is currently the best in the world and shouldn’t be tainted by Trek’s questionable knowledge of years of doping. Gwin is maintaining his reputation. Good management of a world champion.

    1. Robc

      Armstrong rode a Trek, but lots of other prominent dopers have ridden Specialized bikes. Contador, Vinokourov etc.

      1. Big Al

        They haven’t had the negative worldwide press that Armstrong has had. It makes absolute sense to distance yourself from such a shit storm.

    2. TrekChris

      We’re actually fine. It’s unfair for anyone to associate Trek with Lance’s nefarious actions during his racing career.

      1. da

        Trek know more than you think trekchris. they backed their man Lance to the hilt. Above and beyond! look into how the crushed the lemond brand that they were licensing because greg lemond dared to speak out against lance.

      2. Hancock

        I know you have a position/job to maintain, but to even suggest Trek didn’t know (and weren’t/aren’t in it up to their necks) is either very naive or willfully ignorant.
        Lance’s operation involved the whole team, the riders, the support staff and the managers. Trek kept signing the bills for a decade, with the steady stream of riders and assistants (and Greg Lemond) getting chewed out Trek knew exactly what they were involved in and they repeatedly took steps to keep it hidden.
        Which is unfortunate for TWR, since while that was going on they were Global then Honda. They can honestly claim to have had nothing to do with it, Trek itself can claim all it wants, the only reason you’d believe them is if your job hung on it…

      3. Two Wigs

        The Trek brand is tainted by cheating Armstrong. Call it loyalty sticking with him, or call it a calculated and cynical getting out when the truth could no longer be avoided. Rather than the PR rubbish they released, I’d like to see a statement of dome humility in acknowledging their role in supporting the myth. Deliberate or not, they’re complicit in profiting from his lies. The way they treated Lemond was contemptible. So Trek, your not doing alright just because your sales figured are good.

  14. Brentstyle

    I think this is possibly better news for Troy that Gwin. Troy will be able to draw on Gwin’s experience on top of that from Hill. Gwin now has to start again with a new (inferior) bike set-up.

  15. peepster

    Well they don’t have a top rider that we know of!! There is still the new rider announcement to come. Good old Specialize still pissing people off. So pleased I have never and will never buy their bikes just out of pure stubborn principle. Go Hill hope he destroys it this year. Specialized just jump on the best rider in the field all the time from one to another, boing, boing, boing like rabbits.

    1. Craig B

      I am not a Spesh fan but…. Lets be clear, only Gwin was able to sign for a new contract. Big companies try to recruit talent, in all walk on employment, to add credibility to their brand/activities.
      Only Gwin can be perceived as the one pissing people off here.

      1. peepster

        Maybe be so but Specialized have a long long history of offering so much cash that any rider would be crazy to turn it down. The Gwin issue aside this is just on the bottom of a long long list of people specialized constantly piss off within the Bike industry with the bullying behaviour. In the publics eyes there probably seen as great as they make great bikes at a reasonable price

      2. peepster

        Also to add why didn’t they approach Gwin back in september when most riders negotiate their deals why 2 weeks before a Trek team launch. Oh hold on maybe Sam decided to leave and left them up in the air with no big rider and specialized not wanting to be left out looking stupid went for the current big name on the race circuit. Just bad practice

  16. Part Time

    ‘Finally – they certainly can’t go back now…. except trek have no top rider and the season is fast approaching’
    It isn’t really though is it? The first round isn’t until bloody June!!!!

    1. Stevie Bell

      Team riders need to be announced to the UCI very soon though.

  17. Tourdefronce

    Big Al…

    They were all at it chumego. Yes Trek had the biggest name so therefore took the biggest hit but dont think for one second the Specialized weren’t dealing out the money to pay for the drug fueled success..

    Im still a Armstrong fan. He still had everything that makes a champion, drug fueled or not. Best of a bad bunch..

    1. Big Al

      I agree. At the time they were all on a level playing field and I think Armstrong’s other achievements still make him a hell of an athlete. But, Trek waited a long time to ditch him and in waiting have ruined they’re rep. I don’t see specialized as having done anything bad. It’s obviously mutually beneficial.

      1. TrekChris

        We didn’t wait a long time. We waited until the USADA report was announced because we still believe in the notion that someone is innocent until proven guilty.

    2. Steve.

      Although what TOURDEFRONCE is saying is true, Specialized were far quicker in distancing themselves from Contador way before his case even went to court, to the point where they changed the cover of their range brochure and removed all Contador photos inside it mid-season. Trek hung on in their backing their boy Lance to the end, and ultimately that has cost them. As a dealer, we are seeing a massive sales dive on Trek, especially road, since the USADA shabang kicked off and Trek should have had the foresight to realise that their Golden Boy was disposable to save the overall reputation of the company. As it stands, they now have over a decades worth of bikes and sales that were essentially based on a con, and customers don’t like it.

  18. panzer

    Trek have Brook

  19. Chris p

    Where is Brook McDonald?
    Perhaps he will pull a similar manoeuvre on MS and leave them in tatters, there has been no official announcement that he’s signed anywhere and now that Aaron has filled the vacant specialized gap maybe Brook will slide in to a hole in the TWR Camp?
    Seems like everything needs to be sorted by next week.

  20. Thats it aye

    That’s not even Aaron Gwin! It’s Chuck Norris !

  21. gudio

    Spesh are on a hiding to nothing cos if gwin doesn’t completly dominate then it’ll reflect on their bike. Under pressure!

  22. OSG

    I wonder if Gwin left Trek because of Brook joining. Brook is managed by Martin so he might have jumped before he was squeezed. Martin tends to have a habit of preferring the riders he manages when he’s running a team.

    All this speculation over money. I wonder if Trek had a chance to give a counter offer. If it was purely money then Gwin would have played Specialized and Trek off against each other to get top dollar. Martin’s press release makes it sound like that didn’t happen.

  23. Paco Loco

    It will be pretty funny if Gwin doesn’t win any races this year and all Specialized have got for their money is proof that the bike is not up to it!

  24. self indulgent

    the chuck noris statement is simply brilliant. I pissed my pants.

  25. Not Aaron.

    “no single rider is bigger than the team as a whole”…I would beg to differ Mr. Whiteley, we all know that sadly, big names make a team. Hill on Iron Horse, Athertons on Commencal, Athertons on GT, Peat on Orange…GWIN ON TREK.

    1. Pedro

      Gospel right here folks.

    2. Phatcapone

      It worked like this maybe 10 years ago. Today big names are willing to ride for a team only if its a good team means proven in term of structure, management, staff and in the very end equipment. 23D is definitely one of the best management agencies out there with a proven track record: Arai Global, Honda, Trek, management of top athletes, etc.. My prediction on this one is that Gwin was unhappy with some subject other than money.

      1. Not Aaron.

        That may be all well and good, but a top rider still has massive influence over how well the team, and the products they use do. For Example, my guess is that with the Sam Hill signing CRC/NukeProof will suddenly become everyones favourite team, yet previously they were very much an “also-ran” outfit compared to the other teams (Syndicate, GT Atherton, TWR, Specialized etc.) I mean, how many people did you see on Demo 9/8/7’s before hill signed? It was a moderately popular, capable bike available for years before he rode it, yet the minute he signed on the line they were f***king everywhere like a plague.

  26. Big_Tim

    Looks like a Trek… no… wait….

  27. Pedro

    $$$’s. That’s it.

  28. Steve

    Tracey leaves,
    Leov leaves,
    Gwinn leaves,
    Something up at trek I’d say!

    1. Part Time

      Leov hasn’t actually left Trek though, he’s just moved DOWN to race enduro.

    2. The Truth

      Nothing is up at Trek, it’s the other side of the equation that you want to look at, Mr Whitely. Ask anyone who knows him or has worked with him and 99.99999999% will tell you he’s a nightmare. I would not be at all surprised if Gwin felt the same.

      1. AD

        The Truth just spoke the Truth!

  29. hampson

    wowzers people! Great news for hill, fresh start, i hope he destroys once again. Troy will win race, he didn’t need a big name to help mentor him, already twice world champion and podiums with the big boys. Gwin well, he will win on any bike, i can only speculate his reasons for moving but it has certainly left trek picking up the pieces. Brook for trek? Who else would they have now? Lots of people left to announce their teams, lets see what happens, im excited. Fast riding please!

  30. Dzonis

    TWR doesn’t buy winners but they can make average guys (Gwin few years ago) to win on their bikes and become a legend (Gwin now).

    1. Olliebongo

      Maybe they had Gwinny on their “Livestrong Diet” too? Worked for Lance 😉

      Oh and before aul TrekChris gets onto me for slander or libel like the jobsworth he’s being above.

      These are not my personal views, or that of the Olliebongo Broadcasting Corporation and are in fact entirely fictional specualation for comedic effect.

    2. Jay

      Well he was pretty fast on Yeti.

    3. AD

      7 podiums and ranked #4 in the world after only 3 years in the sport on the Yeti is a little above average I would think.

    4. Steve

      Pretty sure it Gwinn would of won races without trek and I’d say his dominance has more to do with the Tomac family than Martin Whitely…. Also why does Martin Whitely come across soo surprised does he not check out team rumours on here or pink bike?!

    5. warthog

      Average? Getting 10th place at the first World Cup he competed in, having started racing mountain bikes less than 1 year prior is not something an average racer does.

  31. Death

    Yep, he`ll definately go to hell and burn for doing that!

  32. Snomys

    Even if it was a formal contract instead of letter of intent, is it not like any contract that a regular employee signs, you can hand in notice at any time.

  33. Theodor Geisel

    this is going to get very messy, no way martin had not gone out and signed a bunch of fresh contracts with sponsors for this season on the back of gwin riding for twr….

  34. Martin Francis

    A letter of intent is not a contactual obligation. It’s in very simple terms an agreement to consider an agreement and is very difficult to enforce. A contract is a “meeting of minds” and it often happens that people sign letters of intent to sign a contract but when reading the contract don’t agree with the terms and are not obligated to sign it. That is even if they have made a letter of intent.

    1. bedders

      Couldn’t have put it better Martin.
      But..I’m no Trek fan but all this other tarring of Trek with the same brush about doping seems a bit daft. However a change is as good as a rest and it’ll be interesting to see who signs for Trek in his place, and maybe we’ll get a bigger variety of winners for a bit.
      I’d do it but I’m already signed up to work in an office and I fancy that so much more.. Oh, and I’m also far too old and talentless.

  35. Jason Sanders

    Just been confirm by the man himself on Twitter

    Proud to announce that I will be riding for Specialized moving forward. There’s much more to the (cont) http://tl.gd/kl8jle

  36. ronin

    hmmm…wow! first blindsided by armstrong doping all those years and selling oclvs out the arse off of him and now THIS! shaky pedestal they’ve built for themselves.

  37. Thomas

    This is all very much like Specialized. With a few exceptions they tend to buy team riders at the height of their career. Sam Hill, Alberto Contador, Tom Boonen, Christoph Sauser, Mark Cavendish….

  38. ready

    true that team riders heavily influence sales. I’ve been looking hard at moving from aggressive singletrack to downhill and been checking out bikes. The bikes I checked were the Glory, Demo and Session. I nearly bought the Demo even though there was a big hit that was cheaper with maxed out parts. Anyway, point is that MTB is becoming more like nascar. You have to run a top team to be attractive to other top talent. The best team with the best talent sells the most!

  39. Spez Zeps


  40. niffer

    Hmm, big jaw got heated on a L A dope debate as T cleans its act..?

  41. Aaron

    Brook is a beast, the Session will fold in half as soon as his left testicle brushes the saddle.

  42. Steve

    I heard that trek are planning on running a session 29r next year so Gwinny left so people didn’t think he was gay

  43. ronin

    ^steve wins. end of story.

  44. Booboy

    Funny if Hill went to trek and started winning again

  45. sharpy182

    Anyone know if Munk still going to be his wrench man??

  46. paddy

    we got a real bad ass over here

  47. Jackass123456789

    Thing is we are only hearing one side of the story, maybe Trek never came up with the contract. Don’t forget Martin runs the team as a company with sponsorship from their sponsors. Maybe the whole deal was based on promises and nothing set in stone. With the hit to Trek over Lance, maybe they haven’t got the funds to run the top team this year….

  48. matt

    not sure i can trust anyone with a beard that neat

  49. james

    maybe martin made a pass at him, would make me jump ship

  50. MertonWhitley

    Let me set this straight.

    He wouldn’t eat the roids…. Simple…. Team rules are team rules…

  51. jimbo

    Hmm, Could be just a case of Mr Gwin the Christian not wanting anything to do with a company that in his eyes supports the use of drugs so blatantly. If he were to continue riding for them with his family and friends knowing about lance then this would have brought shame on him and his close ones in his community. Stuff like this really matters to some faiths.

  52. dave

    In the states, contract stuff is controlled by the state. If it ends up in court it ends up there. TWR would not want a guy back who does not want to be there. They are looking for $$$. I am pretty sure after reading Brook’s twitter page that he is going to Trek. I also thing George B is going as well. New 23 degrees signing. Finally healthy and I think that Gabe might just want to carry Steve and Nick and that Italian Jnr.
    If TWR gets some bling and those 2 guys out of this situation, that is a pretty good trade I think.]


  53. Stubacca


  54. Mr B

    At least we’re not all pointlessly speculating about something that we don’t know about and hardly matters. Oh hang on….
    By the way, is alcohol on the list of banned substances? If so Giant must be bricking the Rob Warner connection 😉

    1. Hancock

      Ah come on, wild speculation is fun.
      No need to worry about Giant and Warner, everybody knew he was on everything (he could fit in his mouth).

  55. Life of Brians mother

    Brian?s mother: He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!

  56. Followers of brian

    Brian: I’m not the Messiah! Will you please listen? I am not the Messiah, do you understand? Honestly!
    Girl: Only the true Messiah denies His divinity.
    Brian: What? Well, what sort of chance does that give me? All right! I am the Messiah!
    Followers: He is! He is the Messiah!
    Brian: Now, fuck off!
    Arthur: How shall we fuck off, O Lord?

  57. Its in the stars

    Brian?s mother: What star sign is he?
    Wise Man #2: Capricorn.
    Brian?s mother: Capricorn, eh? What are they like?
    Wise Man #2: He is the son of God, our Messiah.
    Wise Man #1: King of the Jews.
    Brian?s mother: And that’s Capricorn, is it?
    Wise Man #3: No, no, that’s just him.
    Brian?s mother: Oh, I was going to say, otherwise there’d be a lot of them.

  58. Thank God for Jesus

    “Blessed are the cheesemakers”.

  59. HQ

    The Crowd: The Messiah! The Messiah! Show us the Messiah!
    Brian’s mother: The who?
    The Crowd: The Messiah!
    Brian’s mother: There’s no Messiah in here. There’s a mess all right, but no Messiah. Now go away!

  60. Big G

    George Brannigan is staying with Devinci, he told me last night. As for Brook he wont say but its just gotta be TREK ! But who will fill the other gap at TREK ? Lets make it an all KIWI TREK Team !

    1. Eddie

      I don’t believe your credentials @Big G take your smack talk elsewhere

  61. Steve

    What have the Romans ever done for us anyway?!

  62. Ronin

    Apparently “the world spins” at 180deg now and not at 23deg

  63. Eddie

    George B told me last night he is riding for Mongoose.

  64. Thats it aye

    I just got off the blower with George Brannigan, he told me his is having talks with John Deer and might be on a Tractor this season

  65. brians mother

    Look it doesn’t matter – he’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!


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