By Steven Jones
"I think guys are going to overcook it"
It's been a monumental season for Greg Minnaar. At Fort William he won his nineteenth World Cup making him the most successful male race winner ever. Here in Val Di Sole he competes in his nineteenth Worlds this weekend (although he was at Kaprun in 2002 he crashed and didn't start).
Throughout his career Minnaar has had the difficult task of overthrowing incredibly tough opposition - Nico Vouilloz, Sam Hill, Steve Peat, Aaron Gwin. The South African is unrivalled in his undying focus and commitment to racing and having won at the top level for a period spanning 16 long years Greg is untouchable.
For his nineteenth assault on the World title he has difficult rivals, yet he is a man that knows how to deal with these races. Two rainbow jerseys in the past five years, with a refreshed bike set-up which puts him on arguably the most custom-fitted bike on the circuit, gives him an edge. But more than this it's the composure, the race craft and his ability to deliver under pressure that makes him so tough to beat.
With Bruni still gathering speed, Brosnan having not won a world level race for over two years, and Gwin with such a poor record at this race, Greg could be the man. The counter to this is that Bruni also knows how to win gold, Danny's on the run of his life, Brosnan was third here last year even with a crash and Gwin has delivered one of the greatest race runs in downhill history at this event with his seven-second demolition in 2012.
But the Worlds is different: the boundaries of risk are pushed even further and this is anyone's race. But as Greg Minnaar points out, "I think guys are going to overcook it." It's going to be one hell of a dust up.