- Bike Checks
Trek World Racing was in the spotlight throughout the off-season, most notably because of Aaron Gwin's well-publicized move to Specialized. The team wasted no time rebuilding however, and once again looks to be one of the strongest squads on the World Cup tour. Here's an overview of the tech and talent for TWR in 2013.
Neko Mulally remains on the team (entering his 4th season on the roster) and is joined by Kiwi duo Brook Macdonald and George Brannigan. Greg Williamson from Scotland picks up his first-ever pro ride to round out the downhill squad.
Brook Macdonald - @Brook_Macdonald on Twitter / BrookMacdonaldMTB on Facebook
Brook Macdonald is still regarded as one of the young guns on tour, but he has already left his mark on the sport. He turned pro in 2009, the same year he was Junior World Champion, and has since been a regular top 10 finisher as well as a 4-time visitor to the World Cup podium. After getting close a few times, Brook finally earned his first World Cup win at the 2012 Val d'Isere round. He's already started 2013 off strong with his first New Zealand National Downhill title as well as a podium result at the first round of the U.S. MTB Grand Prix in Port Angeles.
Primarily a flat pedal rider, Brook does well on tracks that favor his attacking style, and as such, we'd expect him to do well at all six rounds of the 2013 World Cup season. He has had results on all of the courses to back up his podium contender status. He'll be less stoked with the choice of Pietermaritzburg for the 2013 World Championships, but don't write off the Bulldog too hastily. He's more than capable of laying it all on the line to produce that special one-off performance.
George Brannigan - @G_Brannigan on Twitter / george.brannigan on Facebook
George is a year younger than Brook and is quite literally snapping at his heals. George rounded off his 2012 World Cup season with a breakout performance, finishing 2nd to Stevie Smith at Hafjell, Norway by a mere 0.4 seconds, picking up his first World Cup podium in the process. With wins in several New Zealand National Series rounds over the past two years and solid results in the 2012 IXS Cup, George is primed for more top 10 World Cup performances in 2013 - if he "can keep his mind from wandering," as he says.
Neko Mulally - @nekomulally on Twitter / neko.mulally on Facebook
Neko, the lone American and the youngest rider on Trek World Racing, may be considered the team veteran after 4 years on the roster. As one of the fastest juniors of his generation, Neko has had the benefit of a factory ride during his transition to the pro ranks. Despite some bad luck with injuries, Neko has brought home results that prove he has the speed to compete, including a 14th place in the 2012 Pietermaritzburg World Cup and a 5th place in the 2012 Sea Otter DH. Look out for an injury-free Neko to claim his place as a top-10 rider in 2013 with a focus on Pietermaritzburg and the 2013 World Championships.
Greg Williamson - @greg_williamson on Twitter / greg.williamson.14 on Facebook
Greg is on a pro ride for the first time in his career in 2013, but he has been competing since 2007. The rider from Inverness, Scotland has been rising steadily through the ranks year after year, with two top-20 World Cup finishes and 38th overall in the 2012 World Cup. At home, Greg has earned a 5th overall in the highly competitive British Downhill Series and a 2012 Scottish National title. Trek World Racing obviously see the potential and are investing in Greg. With the first World Cup of the season on his home turf in Fort William, look for Greg to get 2013 off to a good start - he finished 17th in the 2012 race.
Justin Leov - @justinleov on Twitter / justin.leov on Facebook
World Cup veteran Justin Leov (10 years on the World Cup tour, now entering his 5th season with Trek World Racing) has made the move to Enduro for 2013 and will be representing the team in the Enduro World Series as well as select World Cup downhills. Always one of the most consistent riders on the Downhill World Cup tour, with countless top 10 finishes and several World Cup podiums (snagging a career best 4th in Maribor in 2009), Justin still had top 10 World Cup DH speed in 2012 and took the NZ National DH title last year as well to further prove that point. Justin has now chosen to board the Enduro train where he will be a legitimate threat, given the technical/downhill nature of the Enduro World Series races. Leov is giving himself a season to learn the format and is aiming to become an overall EWS title contender in 2014.
Worth noting is former TWR racer Tracy Moseley, World Downhill Champion (2010) and World Cup Downhill Overall winner (2011) has made the move from downhill to Enduro as well, but not as a Trek World Racing athlete. Tracy runs her own race team now, although she is still on Trek bikes.
Trek World Racing have been on the carbon Trek Session 9.9 downhill bike for two seasons. It is a platform which needs little by way of introduction. Introduced in 2011 (as an evolution of the highly acclaimed Session 88), the Session 9.9 won the World Cup Downhill Overall title under Aaron Gwin twice and also took home Vital MTB's Bike of the Year Shreddy Award in 2012. Each model year sees minor improvements and further refinement, and at the time of writing this, we know of no major changes to the frame that has been so successful up to now.
The list of team partners also remains largely unchanged for the 2013 season. FOX is taking care of suspension and Shimano provides brakes and drivetrain. Trek's in-house brand, Bontrager, supplies wheels and tires, with FUNN, MRP, SDG, and ODI rounding out the build package.
Justin Leov will be attacking the Enduro season with several bike options. He has been riding the Slash 9 during the off-season, with a 1x10 build, using parts from the team partners (see the DH bike section just above). It is possible that he may also chose to ride the Session 9.9 for certain Enduro rounds, or perhaps a prototype or two might pop out of a Trek truck sooner or later, who knows.