Playground News Round-up

by singletrackjenn 0

It’s been a good news week for internet gossip: Gwin signs to Specialized and Lance sings to Oprah…

Gwin vs. TWR!

Unless you’ve been buried in an internet blackout for the past 36 hours you can’t have failed to notice that something is rotten in the state of downhill racing as two of the big hitters, Specialized and Trek, take to football-style transfer tactics over current UCI World Cup champ, Aaron Gwin.

Subtle as a Demo 9.

Gwin has confirmed he’s left his Trek World Racing contract to sign for Specialized, following Sam Hill’s shift to CRC-Nukeproof at the end of last year. We’re sure that you’ve already absorbed most of the quotes that are floating around in the interwebverse, but just in case you’ve missed any, here are the two which tell you pretty much all you need to know about the situation: ie. it’s perhaps not as clear-cut as at least one party would like it to be…

“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 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”.
– Trek World Racing.

Oh dear. Here’s hoping for a clean fight…

Next, in not really any brighter but possibly a little more entertaining news, if only for the fact that it gives half the cycling world a fair chance to point fingers at the other half and say ‘I told you so!’ via the holistic medium of social media, we have:

Lance vs. Oprah!

Yes, the queen of the chat shows has deigned to give over a full 90 minutes of sofa time to disgraced road cyclist Lance Armstrong. We’re not sure what they’ve got in common but are sure they’ll still find plenty to talk about. There’s what he’s done with those seven yellow t-shirts, for starters…

“Oprah Winfrey will speak exclusively with Lance Armstrong in his first no-holds-barred interview. Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career.

In the interview, Winfrey speaks with Armstrong at his home in Austin, Texas in the only interview since the seven-time Tour de France winner was stripped of his titles and dropped from millions of dollars in endorsement deals after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released an extensive report accusing the renown cyclist of doping throughout his career. Armstrong was given a lifetime ban on competing professionally. Late last year, Armstrong resigned as chairman of the foundation he created, Livestrong, which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the fight against cancer.”

The interview is being screened next Thursday, January 17th on Oprah Winfrey Network (for US cable users) and via (for the rest of the world). It’s scheduled to be broadcast at 9pm Eastern and Pacific Time and we’re not sure which of these the web broadcast will adhere to, though we’re sure the internet will let us know in good time – if only as it collapses under the weight of our collective outrage. May we politely suggest you arrange to go for a night ride with your mates instead?

Ride your bike instead!


Discuss Lance on Oprah here:

Discuss Gwin signing to Specialized here: