Minnaar:The Syndicate WC Story

Here’s the official word on Greg Minnaar’s Pietermaitzburg World Cup win from Santa Cruz Syndicate team manager Kathy Sessler:

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Hometown boy delivers the goods to adoring fans and familiy on this Easter Sunday in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa at the opening round of the UCI World Cup by winning the downhill today. His convincing form and preparation prevailed on this pedalling fitness course showing that he has done his homework over the winter. Teamate Dr. Steve Peat shows he has done a stint or two in the classroom as he follows Greg for third just behind Mick Hannah.

The spirit of the event for the Syndicate has to be the energy that the town, fans and family showed for Greg. His entire family was thrilled to see him in his element and witness a world cup first hand, including his 86 year-old grandmother. His close friends also organized a fan club charity opportunity which the proceeds from selling membership fan packs and the GM Fan Club VIP auction will go to the Mnsayana School in Umkomaas Valley (the same school seen in Clay Porter’s movie which Steve and Greg visited last year). Thousands of dollars were raised to benefit the kids at at the school.

Racing in his hometown brought a new element to racing for Greg. He literally lives less than a mile from the race track and this was quite a unique experience for him. He could just ride his bike to practice, so it was a funny feeling. Trying to soak in the support and staying focused on the race was the task at hand. He stayed in the Syndicate “Cat” house (long story there, but think lots of cat décor), and being in a normal race routine with Steve, Josh, and the rock star mechanics helped calm nerves (think a mechanics night out at Frankie Banana’s and signing female body parts).

Steve and Greg worked together on their practice sessions and the qualifier on Friday went well with Greg in second to Mick Hannah, and Steve fourth to Kovarik’s third. Wee Josh’s legs didn’t quite have the power of the big guns yet and finished the qualifier in 44th.

Race day practice started early as the fan club arrived at the Syndicate pit to organize for their trek to the long, long pedalling section to cheer for Greg with their chain saws and Vuvuzelas (that’s Zulu for loud horn, or beer bong depending on the application). In all, about 300 GM fan club members were in attendance wearing their Minnaar replica Alpinestars jerseys to cheer Greg down the hill. After race day practice Greg said to Steve, “Now I know how you must feel racing at Fort William!”

The final ramped up with Bryceland improving on his qualifier time to finish 39th. Deep in the thick of things, Cameron Cole took the hotseat for a stint until being unseated by a great run put together by Sam Hill. Hill held the hotseat until Steve “Old School” had a smoking good run. Rumored to be “40 years old”, Steve just had to wait 6 minutes in the hotseat to see the amazing run delivered by the brilliant performance of Greg. You could hear the roar coming down the hill and the finish line was mental with fans cheering as loud as possible as Greg smashed across the line. Waiting another 3 minutes to first place qualifier Mick Hannah arrived was nerve wracking but Mick came across the line in second, which clenched two podium spots for the Syndicate.

The experience we have had here in Africa has been amazing. Really, you must pinch yourself and say, “We are racing in Africa”! It’s not just another race, it was so African in so many ways, from the slow or non existent internet access (hence the late report), Zulu people, and big 5 animals, we got to experience Africa in all it’s uniqueness. We are looking forward to racing here again next year.

greg minnaar wins world cup round 1 at pietermaritzburg south africa

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Next up in Downhill

World Cup:After the dust has settled