Gwin’s fifth place finish at Val d’Isere on Sunday gave him enough points to sit 260 points clear ahead of Greg Minnaar in the overall standings. With only 250 points available at the final round in Hafjell in September, Gwin has won the series title with a race left for the second year running. Here’s the official word from Trek World Racing:
By taking 5th place at Round 6 of the UCI World Cup, Aaron not only won his 2nd World Cup Overall title in as many years, but he also maintained his 100% record of World Cup podium results, 13 from 13 starts with Trek World Racing, and a record 14 in a row when the final round of 2010 is taken into account. Furthermore, the Trek Session race bike has scored an impressive 35 World Cup podiums since the start of 2009, more than any other bike model.
Having won 4 of the 6 races on offer so far this season, it seems logical that Aaron Gwin would have wrapped up the season early, and become the first to score back-to-back titles since Nico Vouilloz in the late 90’s, but mathematically it wasn’t that straight forward. Both Greg Minnaar and Gee Atherton have been equally consistent so it was a matter of trying to limit the damage after a qualifying run crash nearly brought Aaron’s weekend to an early close.
The penultimate round of the 2012 UCI World Cup in DH was at a brand new venue, Val d’Isere on a course which presented a number of challenges. It was short, at around 2mins 20secs, and this means errors of any kind were not forgiven. The limestone strewn down the length of the course was sharp and sliced many a tire and rider. Aaron and Justin both suffered injuries requiring stitches. Justin’s injury on his left arm actually required the handy work of a plastic surgeon to stitch torn muscle inside the injured arm, as well as stitches to close the wound. Aaron’s right hand was cut deeply and required 5 stitches, an injury he played down before the final but in reality, was a tough one to cope with on this course.
Aaron said: “I have no excuses for my 5th today. I had a pretty good run. For how I felt with the hand injury, I’m happy. To win the overall again, it’s so amazing, especially after this weekend. I came in feeling good and kinda had a bonehead moment in qualifying—hurt myself a little bit with that. It was better than I thought it was going to be in the finals but I just got a little tired at the bottom. So I had to back it down to make sure I stayed on and I kinda backed it down too much, but it still worked out. Everyone loses some and wins some. I have lost many more in my career so I’m just stoked to be up here in the black leader jersey for 2012.”
Aaron takes a 260 point lead into the finals in Norway in mid-September, with a maximum 250 points available. Between now and then, there are the World Championships. The Men’s Downhill World Title hasn’t been in the hands of an American since his team mate and Trek World Racing staff member Myles Rockwell in 2000, so it’s understandable that the goals for the season have now shifted to Leogang, Austria, in about 4 weeks from now.
Want to find out more about Gwin? Read our interview with him in issue 16 of IMB here.