Can anyone beat Greg Minnaar?
Minnaar maneuvers to take overall number four after nine years of waiting
160 points. That's the lead Greg Minnaar currently holds at the top of the men's standings as we head into the final two rounds of the World Cup series.
Technically anybody down to Loic Bruni in tenth place could still beat him if they score the maximum 500 points, but that would rely on Minnaar having a terrible final two rounds and posting zero points. In reality, we reckon it's going to be a three horse race between Brosnan, Gwin and Minnaar from here on out.
The state of play
What does history tell us?
2016 - Aaron Gwin - 1,252
2015 - Aaron Gwin - 1,329
2014 - Josh Bryceland - 1,187
2013 - Steve Smith - 1,199
2012 - Aaron Gwin - 1,260
2011 - Aaron Gwin - 1,558
2010 - Gee Atherton - 1,229
The average winning points tally since 2010 has been 1,287 points, while the average second place rider has scored 1,126. It seems like when you get over the 1,200 point mark you can pretty much guarantee yourself the series win. Minnaar would need just 300 points to reach this milestone and feel fairly safe in the overall victory.
How can Minnaar win?
Minnaar currently sits on 902 points while Brosnan is on 742 - 160 behind. Minnaar just needs to score another 340 points over the next two rounds to guarantee his victory outright. That does mean he'll have to at least podium each round (and get a decent qualifier) - but for a man that's only been out of the top three once all season (at the rain affected Lourdes) it doesn't seem like such a trial.
Minnaar will also wrap up the title if he scores 91 more points than Troy Brosnan next round. This means if Minnaar wins in Mont Sainte Anne, Troy will have to podium or get ready to start a new overall challenge next year.
How Can Gwin win?
Gwin's overall hopes were deflated in Lenzerheide to the point where the title is almost out of reach but if anyone in modern downhill can do it, it's Aaron Gwin. He currently sits 253 points behind Minnaar meaning Minnaar can miss a race and still have a lead over him.
One thing we do know is that Gwin has the pace though as he showed in Leogang and Lenzerheide. It's going to take a miracle for Gwin to win but we've no doubt he'll have Troy on the calculator in the hotseat in Val di Sole.
How can Troy win?
Brosnan's best hope is to get two perfect races and score himself the maximum 500 points- no easy feat with how hard Gwin, Hart and Minnaar are charging each round. This will force Minnaar to aim for at least fourth place and decent qualifiers. As soon as Brosnan drops points to Minnaar, it starts to become a lot harder to chase him down.
A win is worth 40 points more than a second but then it's only a drop of 20 points to third, a further 15 to third and then increments of 10 from there. In essence, if you aren't on the top three steps you start to loose ground fast - probably a good reason why Minnaar is out ahead as the only repeat winner this year.
We're definitely not counting Brosnan out though, if Minnaar's form starts to dip 160 points will fade quickly. As the underdog, Brosnan can also go for full attack mode. If he starts to chip away at that lead in Mont Sainte Anne he would be piling a lot of pressure onto the South African and setting up a very interesting finale.
Can someone else win?
If disaster strikes for Minnaar, the door is wide open for any challengers but he isn't called Mr Consistent for no reason. He's managed to avoid any race run mechanicals all year, he glided through the Fort William woods section and he placed highest of any of the monsoon affected riders in Lourdes, Minnaar has had an answer for everything that 2017 has thrown at him... so far.
However, if we've seen one thing in 2017 it's that anything can happen. Minnaar's jersey may have stayed white in racing but his infamous puncture in Lourdes timed training shows that he's not infallible. Mechanicals freak weather, crashes, they're all pitfalls that Minnaar will have to watch out for but it's been nine years since Minnaar finished on top of the overall, he's unlikely to leave much up to chance.
Overall points calculator
Click on the link below to download our World Cup points calculator and try out a few scenarios for yourself:
How it works:
- Make sure you have Excel installed on your computer (or you can use Google Sheets)
- Open the downloaded file
- Fill in the bold 'position' columns and the spreadsheet will fill out the rest. Note, the calculator only works up to 40th position.