Greg Minnaar has won the Men's DH in Pietermaritzburg! Aaron Gwin in second and Mick Hannah in third.Mens Top 5
1. Greg Minnaar
2. Aaron Gwin
3. Mick Hannah
4. Gee Atherton
5. Steve Smith Watch the Red Bull broadcast replay here, full results below.
Greg Minnaar, winning this one for his father!
Greg Minnaar crossing the finish line as captured by Oakley's Steve Blick.
It was a beautiful day in Pietermaritzburg, 25 degrees with overcast skies, and while it had cleared up from yesterday afternoon, conditions were a little less than perfect today after yesterdays rain storm. The track was pretty dry in the open but there were still some slick sections in the trees that saw a few riders go down, including the World Champ Danny Hart.
The first notable rider to take the hot seat today was Brendan Fairclough with a time of 4:07.192 and he held onto it for the next 5 riders until Neko Mulally came out of the gate fast and stayed fast. Neko was over 2 seconds up at the first split and looked absolutely pinned through the whole course, he finished 2.885 ahead of Fairclough with a time of 4:04.307 Neko's time in the hot seat was short lived though as well, two riders later Julian Camellini had a great run beating his time by 0.723 for a 4:03.584 That was fast enough to keep Camellini in the hot seat until Andrew Neethling came down 15 riders later. Luke Strobel has a new ride this year with Pivot bikes, and he finished 18th overall last season, but he couldn't do it here, 4:11.564 put him into 38th spot at the end of the day. Another rider that is always a threat, Sam Blenkinsop, went next. He was over 9 seconds back at the second split though and 12.5 back at the end. Not a great day for Blenki he ended up 58th. Brook MacDonald had some great results last season but he had a bad crash here the other day. He looked fast out of the gate but he was 3.39 seconds back at the 2nd split and coudn't make it up, 3.43 back at the finish which moved him into 4th spot behind Camellini, Neko, and Cous Cous. He finished the day in 19th spot. Justin Leov chose to ride with no knee pads and it seemed to help on the pedal section, he moved up 3 or 4 spots there and his 4:06.559 moved him into 4th spot ahead of the Bulldog.
Damian Spagnolo was second at Worlds last year, but he couldn't put it together here, he seems to prefer a steep course rather than a pedaly one. It's awesome to see Bryn Atkinson back at it and doing well after his injury last year, he came out of the gate quick and had the fastest time at split one, but he was down 3.4 seconds at split two after the pedal section. He finished +5 at the end and moved into 9th place, finishing 24th overall for the day. Ratboy Josh Bryceland, 10th overall last year, and second at split one here, but again the pedal section beat him up, +4 at the second split and +3.7 at the end to put him into 9th spot ahead of Bryn. He finished the day in 21st spot. With 4X being gone from the World Cup circuit a few of the riders have switched to DH, and Johannes Fischbach is one of those. He's a road rider as well and touted to be a strong pedaler but he struggled a bit on his final run finishing 29th after qualifying 16th. Marc Beaumont was up next but he had a dab at the top and was 28th at the first split. He put in an incredible effort on the rest of the course and finished his run in 5th spot with a 4:06.854, that eventually placed him 18th.
Three time world champion Sam Hill came out of the start gate fast and was fastest at split one, still only 0.2 down at the second split but he couldn't make it up in the bottom section and finished 0.232 behind Camellini, which put him in second spot ahead of Neko. Sam's time of 4:03.816 was good enough for 11th place at the end of the day. It will be interesting to see how he does on a steeper track, he's still not looking super fit here. Nick Beer didn't have a great season last year, but he's on a new team this year riding for Devinci, and he had an amazing run here. He was fastest at the second split, but lost a bit at the bottom, finishing 0.23 back, which put him in 3rd behind Camellini and Hill. He ended up 12th overall. Next up was the reigning World Champ Danny Hart. A lot of pressure on him here and he pushed it a little bit too hard at the top, washing his front tire in a fade away corner and going down. There's no room for errors like that on this course, especially when you're not known for pedaling, so with nothing left to lose he threw some huge whips and finished 9 seconds back of Camellini. His time of 4:12.59 was good enough for 41st, not a great start to the season. This race marked Steve Peat's 100th World Cup DH race, of which he's been on the podium for more than half of them. He's also got 17 World Cup wins to his name, making him the winning-est racer in World Cup DH history. He was only 2.4 seconds back at the second split and finished 2.06 back with a 4:05.65 That moved him into 5th spot behind Camellini, Hill, Beer, and Mulally, he finished 15th overall at the end of the day.Top 10 qualifiers
Tenth place qualifier Andrew Neethling is a local favorite and he was racing in front of a home crowd. He started out a little slow at the first split but moved into first at the second split by almost a second, pedaling hard and beating Camellini by 0.804 to take him out of the hot seat with a 4.02.78 Needles ended up in seventh spot, just off the podium.
Jared Graves is another 4X rider looking to dominate in downhill, but unlike some of the other converts he's got a fair bit of DH experience, he placed second behind Minnaar in the 2003 Angelfire World Cup. He qualified 9th here and was looking to improve on that in the final. A bit slow at the top he was 15th at split one, but he put in a huge pedaling effort to move up into 2nd spot at split two. All about the pedaling here, his bottom half was even faster, and he bested Needles by 0.364 bumping him out of the hot seat with a 4:02.416 That was good enough for sixth place at the end of the day.
Aurelian Giordanengo is a name most of you might not of heard of. He's another ex 4X rider and BMX racer, and he was 5th at split one, 5th at split two, and then 6th at the finish. It's great to see a few new names moving towards the top 10, he finished the day in 13th spot with a 4:04.044
Cedric Gracia is looking to make a real comeback this year. He was riding really well last year before injuring himself part way through the season, and has been training hard all winter, racing Enduro's. He was 8th at the first split, 7th at the second split, and then raced hard to move into 4th at the finish with a 4:03.654 That time was good enough to put him in 10th.
Mick Hannah had a pretty bad season last year and he's been looking forward to making up for it this year. Racing on the Hutchinson United Ride team on Morewood bikes with his sister this year, they're looking to have a strong team. Mick was fastest at split one, and then fastest by an incredible 4.6 seconds at split two, finishing 3.44 seconds ahead of Graves to knock him out of the hot seat. Mick was the first rider to break four minutes with a time of 3:58.974, over a second faster than Greg Minnaar's qualifying time. It looks like his luck may be changing...
Troy Brosnan had great hopes here qualifying 5th. He was second at split one, but 3.7 seconds back at split two, and then over four seconds back at the finish. His time of 4:02.997 was good enough for 8th. Not what he wanted for sure, but still a great result.
Four riders to go and Gee Atherton was up with his first race on the new GT and looking to come back after last seasons disappointment. He was seventh at split one, 2.08 back of Mick at split two, and finishing 0.309 back to move into second spot with a 3:59.283 That was good enough for 4th place for the day.
Steve Smith injured himself last year at the end of what was looking to be a great season. He was quick out of the gate here, 2 seconds back and in fourth spot at split one, but then 6 seconds back at split 2 after the pedal section. But he powered through the bottom part of the course to finish only 3.39 back, which put him into 3rd spot with only Gwin and Minnaar left. Guaranteed 5th spot, that's where he ended up with a 4:02.364
Aaron Gwin was the overall World Cup champ last year and needless to say he was looking to beat Minnaar here on his home turf, it was set up to be a battle. He was only 0.008 behind Greg in qualifying and he started off quick. 0.04 back of Mick at the first split, hammering through the middle pedal section he lost a little more and was 0.882 back at the second split. He absolutely killed it at the bottom though, going hard to make up time. He finished 0.362 ahead of Mick to knock him out of the hot seat with a 3:58.974
Greg Minnaar, last rider up. Fastest Qualifier, although barely. He's also the home town favorite here, and had the whole crowd behind him. He sprinted out of the gate in front of a cheering crowd, but was 6th at split one. Still a second back at split 2, but he put in a huge effort through the bottom section to finish 0.0632 ahead of Gwin for the win. Final time 3:57.98
The next race is Val di Sole in early June.42232 DHI ME Results