When Aaron Gwin hangs up his racing shoes (many, many years from now), 2016 will still stand out as an important season among an already impressive career.

At the end of 2015, he walked away from the Specialized team with whom he’d wrapped up his third UCI World Cup overall title and caused an internet meltdown. Cyberspace had just about recomposed itself when he announced that he’d be riding a YT Industries bike made up of a smorgasbord of components on a team as yet to be finalized. For many racers, this would all have been a leap too far, but not for Gwin. 

Yet even with a freshly won fourth title in the bag, he arrived at the Val di Sole UCI World Championships arguably in the shadow of one man; the UK’s Danny Hart. Gwin had never won so much as a medal at the World Championships – it had always been ‘wreckers or checkers’ for the Californian. Could he overthrow Hart’s late season dominance to make 2016 even more remarkable?

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