Nickname: Big Air
PoB: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Team: Santa Cruz Syndicate
2008 World Cup overall: 1
Career highlights: 3 x World Cup Champion, 1 x World Champion
Favourite food: Sushi
Following a disappointing, not to mention painful season in 2007, Minnaar came back with more punch than any of his competitors could handle, taking the World Cup overall in 2008. After racing most of the 2007 World Cups with what is known in medical speak as a 'tatty' shoulder (it kept dislocating) he underwent surgery in October of that year. Judging by his performance in 08, we can safely assume the surgery was a success.
For some riders it can take up to a year to get used to a new bike, but having won the World Cup in his maiden season with Santa Cruz, we can assume Minnaar took weeks, if not days. This ability to adapt and thrive is reflected in his podiums last year, taking three World Cup wins on an assortment of quite different tracks (Fort William, Mont Saint Anne and Canberra).
People talk of Peaty being a legend of the sport, but how far behind is Minnaar, if at all. Minnaar also holds three World Cup overall titles, yet he has that World Championship victory of 2003. At 28 years of age, with 36 podium finishes under his belt, and with a successful season on his new rig, Minnaar must surely be a favourite for the win in 2009.
Greg's battle with Sam in 08 kept the World Cup alive, turning what some expected to be a one horse race into a fight to the line. With a winning margin of just 61 points, Greg showed the world that he can hold it together and produce results under pressure.
What better place to begin the new season than on his home track of Pietermaritzburg, in front of his friends and family. Will the familiar surroundings offset the pressure of defending his title, or will the expectancy of his home turf be too much?greg-minnaar