AARON GWIN – IS HE WORTH IT?
Ten years ago a company with no men’s world cup downhill wins, overall titles or world championship rainbow jerseys signed up a 31-year-old double World Cup series winner – Steve Peat. Today, and after several more successful signings including Greg Minnaar and Josh Bryceland, they stand as one of the most successful downhill brands ever. They fully backed the right men.
At the time that Santa Cruz signed Peaty in 2006 he had 14 World Cup wins, two World Cup titles, and no rainbow jersey.
It’s easy to draw similarities with Aaron Gwin (also 14 wins), and who is about to reveal his new team due to what has been described by some sources as a difference of opinion between rider and his former employer, Specialized, over his value.
But what is Gwin worth to his (as yet unnamed) new team?
Well, when it comes to delivering the man is insatiable. Consider that Peaty won another three top level races for the Californian brand; Greg Minnaar 14 to date and Bryceland 3. That’s three racers; 20 wins, in 10 years.
When you ask if Gwin is worth it consider his vital statistics: 1 rider – 14 wins – five years. These are huge numbers. Worth? Priceless.
Not convinced? Santa Cruz, again the rulers when it comes to the overall World Cup series in the past decade, have three riders and three World Cup series wins. Gwin also has three and crucially he doesn’t have an out-of-date sticker being printed.
Five years ago when Trek signed Gwin his purse was empty: no wins, no titles, nothing. Trek had a great bike but without a male World Cup win to endorse it.
He was the man that took Trek and the Session DH bike to the top in no uncertain fashion, and with the aid of Tracy Moseley made it one of the winningest brands ever, along with Sunn and Santa Cruz.
Looking for the seal of approval? Affirmation that a bike is capable? Gwin is your man. But what’s he worth? Let’s consider some of the results based facts as one facet to his value….
- 14 World Cup race wins in five years.
When you take a look at the World Cup events of the past five seasons – that’s 34 races in total, Aaron Gwin has as many wins in that period as the current top 15 ranked World Cup racers all put together.
- Won 41% of all World Cup races in last five years.
World Cup Winners 2011-2015
Gwin 14 World Cup wins
Greg Minnaar 5
Steve Smith 4
Josh Bryceland 3
Gee Atherton 3
Sam Hill 2
Brook MacDonald 1
Remi Thirion 1
Troy Brosnan 1
Total 34 Races
- Podium Percentage (Top 5) 2011-2015 = 68%
Brosnan 35% (55% last three seasons)
Bruni 26% (40% last three seasons)
- He’s still only 28
- Greg Minnaar is 34. The only person that has shown he has the composure to close out races is Greg Minnaar. He has taken the battle to Gwin in warrior fashion, but at 34 he sadly looks unlikely to be on an upward curve of wins.
- The inability of the experienced opposition to deliver consistently.
You could of course take Gee Atherton out of that statement, but although he is an incredible racer, one of the most consistent ever, he’s been unable to close down races when they matter. Josh Bryceland showed a brave return from injury in 2015 but goes into his eighth senior season with only three world cup wins to his name. Sam Hill seems to be constantly fighting injury.
- Young racers not delivering consistently.
Many young stars are a gamble. In Sam Hill’s first four years of senior racing he delivered a 68% podium percentage. Greg Minnaar in his first four years delivered 55%. Troy Brosnan appears to be leading the charge but there is still an element of doubt. He has been doing well after a disastrous first senior season and has attained a 55% podium percentage in the last three years; one win in four years of senior racing.
Loic Bruni, although he has a 40% podium percentage, has yet to win a World Cup going into his fourth senior season. He’s the current World Champion, has come within a second of winning a race on one occasion (Lenzerheidi 2015) but so too has Danny Hart – there are many similarities. Bruni will certainly be the future but does he command Gwin type salary? For him his worth is four second-place finishes.
- More World Cup podium finishers than ever before. There has been a growing trend in the past decade of an increasing number of podium finishers during the season. Ten years ago 11 different riders fought for the podium spaces – in 2015 that number was 17.
So, while there is a huge fight for podium places, few are delivering consistency that’s going to help command big salaries like the top dogs.
- You pay for winning. It seems there are few capable. 2006 and 2014 saw the most individual World Cup winners in one season (five different winners). Name five definite World Cup winners for 2016?
- Gwin delivers under pressure. He’s not a one hit wonder.
- Is likely to equal Minnaar’s record in the next few years.
- Could win World Championships.
- Could become a four-time World Cup series winner.
- He’s easy on components, especially chains and derailleurs. The only person to win without a chain.
- USA factor – hugely important figure for one of the biggest markets in the world.
- Most followed Instagram World Cup racer.
- He’s a total professional.
Of course, it could go all horribly wrong. Specialized signed a champion in 2013 and got, err, one fifth-place podium finish in his first season.
Worth? Forget about the price tag.