Superhuman effort from Minnaar to win World Cup round #1 at South Africa!!!
Less than a second between the top three!
Greg Minnaar came back from being two seconds down at the first split to win a thrilling home World Cup at Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Greg dug deep put the power down and probably thought ” there’s no way I’m going to let Gwinny take this one again!”
Gee must have messed up the top section, 11th at the first split.
Stevie Smith proving that he has put in the work during the winter.
Graves has laid down his intentions with a solid 6th.
Troy Brosnan 3rd at the first split and showing he can hang with the big dogs.
Camellini sat in the hot seat for ages, back with a 9th.
Bad luck for Danny Hart as he binned it on a loose left hander up top.
How was the live feed for you lot? Worked fine for me. Warner sounded a little more subdued than usual.
I only heard one good one from him…”He’s gone down faster than a French breast implant!”
1.Greg Minnaar 3:57.980
2.Aaron Gwin +0.632
3.Michael Hannah +0.994
4.Gee Atherton +1.303
5.Steve Smith +4.384
6.Jared Graves +4.436
7.Andrew Neethling +4.800
8.Troy Brosnan +5.017
9.Julien Camellini +5.604
10.Cédric Gracia +5.674
Hometown hero Greg Minnaar sent the massive crowd into hysterical celebrations by winning the downhill title at the RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup, while Australian speedster Tracey Hannah completed a fairytale comeback to MTB downhill racing by winning the women’s title in emphatic fashion at the Cascades MTB course.
Minnaar, fronting the Santa Cruz Syndicate team, started last as the quickest qualifier, and initially looked behind the blisteringly fast times laid down by last year’s winner Aaron Gwin and seasoned Australian star Mick Hannah who looked poised to make it a family one-two after his sister had scooped the women’s title.
However 30 year old Minnaar, who won here in 2009, had to dig deep over the tough final third of the course to make up two crucial seconds to finish six tenths of a second faster than Gwinn, sending the crowd into raptures.
His race was far from perfect however. A clearly nervous Minnaar missed a few key lines and went wide into the big drop at Cloud 9, leaving him off Gwin’s pace.
“Maybe those mistakes helped me because then I decided that I could not afford to sit down till I got to the finish. It hurt a lot and my legs were burning but I knew I had to make up that time,” said Minnaar. “It was just a catch-up game, and I think that’s what got me down the bottom slightly quicker than these guys. I had to fight the whole way through to the end.”
“When you cross the line, you’re never sure where you are, there’s no scoreboard in front of you,” said Minnaar. “I normally look for Steve Peat because he’s the first to jump over anywhere. I just saw the fencing starting to move, and as I came closer and closer it just collapsed, and I knew I had won it.”
The win was an emotional one for Minnaar, who has been spending much of the past fortnight at his father’s side in intensive care at a local hospital. His team gave him licence to withdraw from the season-opening UCI MTB World Cup. However at his father’s insistence he opted to race, and set up an online facility in his hospital ward to enable him to watch the internet-streamed live coverage of the race.
“I don’t know how excited the staff at the St Anne’s UCI will be when we roll in to celebrate!” said Minnaar.
It was Minnaar’s sixteenth World Cup victory in his 54th World Cup outing, and clearly one of the most significant of his illustrious career.
“Greg (Minnaar) always finds another level at the bottom and digs deep, so it’s always tough racing him, especially on this track,” said Gwin. “It was awesome. I was really happy for him. He’s had a crazy couple of weeks, so for him to be able to pull it together here in front of his hometown crowd, it must be special for him, so I’m happy with second today, for sure.”
“I’m extremely happy,” said Mick Hannah afterwards, admitting that he was somewhat underprepared for the early start to the season. “Last year, here, I gave away three seconds in the first split, and this year I had the fastest split up the top. I faded a little bit at the bottom, but Aaron and Greg are on top of their game. I couldn’t be happier.”