04/07/2011 | 41 comments
Santa Cruz Syndicate’s Greg Minnaar on the brink of equaling Steve Peat’s 51 World Cup Downhill podiums.
How quickly the World order has changed in the flash of two summer seasons. And we’ve not even reached the solstice. The end of 2009 drew to a close with Hill claiming the series after a very strong year – not that he hadn’t had one the previous season – six podiums out of seven, but still losing the title to Minnaar. We’ve not seen much or heard a hell of a lot of the Australian since then, a podium to begin 2010 and then nothing, except the odd World Championship gold at least.
It’s now a year since Sam went down hard in Fort William and apart from the Karate kid like win in Mt St Anne last year all is strangely under wraps in the Specialized tent. Ahh, Mt St Anne, he did it previously in 2009 too, the year he beat Peaty by three seconds (one of the biggest margins in recent history) yet still the Yorkshireman’s strongest podium after you know what. What? Well he overhauled Nico Vouilloz’s record of World wins…what two years to the day? Similarly all has gone silent for the Sheffield man – well apart from a fifth in this year’s opener. Not bad for a man a year or so off veteran status.
Not exactly fireworks then for the two men who have dominated the sport in one way or other for the past decade. Still, Peaty by his fingernails holds onto one record and Hill another. Give me second while a take in some coffee…yes ok well Hill has the record of dealing out the most thumpings in recent history and like I said the last rider to put more than three seconds into a second place man.
Yer but hold your Aussie horses for just a moment. Greg dumped almost five seconds on Rennie in Canberra in his last championship winning year (that was 2008) and seven on Kovarik in fifth. Hardly the most retiring of characters that’s the last we saw of Nathan, and Kovarik for that matter. Shame. All the while a conservative vibe has surrounded Minnaar, one he confesses to hate. This perception is slightly hard to fathom or pin down, because a thirst for rare adventure in the narrow channels of World Cup racing fortunes only the brave. Maybe that’s why only four riders have got into double figure World Cup wins. No an un-adventurous attitude will get you nowhere in this sport. Gwinn now says he’s out to win every race, Hill has remarked on the need to back off a touch – strange old business that – but hey the facts will will not be erased.
The most chilling of which is Greg Minnaar’s record. Or should I say Steve Peat’s record that he stands on the brink of equaling, unless of course the old school has more in the tank. Mind you Minnaar avant-garde?
Kind of. The South African is on the brink of equaling that fifty-one set by Peaty. Just think a 101 between them heading into Leogang. Even if all the current racers got together they’d struggle to match those stats. And they are incredible figures. Consider them for a minute. Greg has podiumed 36 out of the past 42 World Cups that’s a staggering 86 percent rate in a ten-year period. The great Vouilloz managed 38 out of 50 (76%). Atherton holds 27 podiums of the past 42 races and Hill 25. Good but you know who your money’s on. (NB Gwin has podiumed 8 of the past 11 races)
Yes the old-fashioned tight rope walker once of Honda now of Santa Cruz has been living life on the edge for some time. Ask any racer the difficulty of podium places. Conformist yes but only in that he seems stuck in his winning ways.
Nine World Cup wins for Minnaar since 2008. Yup it does need repeating. In that period even if Atherton, Hill and Peaty clubbed together they could only club together one more between them. Not that they would because that exclusivity now sits in the Syndicate tent – a mighty 101 downhill podiums between Peaty and Minnaar. Minnaar is hauling and it seems hugely probable that he will outdo his team mate at some point if not this then next season. The pair are beautifully balanced right now. One World Championship and three series titles a piece, 17 wins plays 14, same bike same height and similarly nimble with a glass in their hand.
Its no time to be bashful, hell those two will be clobbering Leogang this weekend. One way or another.