Making It - Judgement Day
Gwin and YT rise to prominence
Unheard of. The fastest racer on two wheels turning his back on big name support and striking out alone. Aaron Gwin rejected the Big S and instead sought something totally unique in the winter of 2014/2015.
For us there were unparalleled page views, every race fan ravenous to know where the living legend would finally plant his flag. Many predicted YT Industries but few truly believed it. What happened next would leave the world of downhill in a state of shock.
Looking back, it's no real surprise that Gwin ended up where he did. Unhappy with Specialized offer, he needed up with a brand that prided themselves on doing things differently. He thought he was worth more than any racer for a decades, possibly ever. It turned out, he was right.
Similarly, YT were eager to put a cat among the pigeons. This was there chance to prove that the bike that was the recipient of so many media plaudits was a worthy contender on the World Cup circuit - the true test of any bike wanting to gain entry to downhill's upper echelons.
What a match it proved to be. On a box fresh, stock bike, Gwin found his set up and felt up to speed immediately. Of course, there was the small issue of sorting component sponsors but the likes of TRP, Onza and e-Thirteen were happy to jump on board.
And so, to Lourdes. A brutal, savage tack, but also one of the best tests of a machine on the World Cup circuit.With a new truck, team and set up, YT instantly marked their place in the pits. Some may see the blacked-out tent as foreboding but for YT, is was a signal of intent they were here for one result only.
The calmest man on the team was Gwin himself. The American had made the pilgrimage with lots to prove. Qualifying second, he showed raw pace with only local favourite Bruni ahead of him.
Race day and Gwin claimed his place in the hotseat. All eyes turned to Bruni. Loose but fast. It wasn't until the final section that Bruni cracked. A spill on an innocuous corner left his dreams of a first World Cup win floating away like the Pyrnennean dust. Down in the finish area Gwin rose from the hotseat. History was made.
"First race first place, that's how we do"