Greg Minnaar wins the UCI World Cup Downhill season opener aboard his Fox/Shimano equipped carbon V-10 with an exhilarating run that had the hill alive with the roar of thousands of fans including the oneLife crew and the Minnaarmy! Steve Peat came in 15th and Josh Bryceland 21st on this improved, pedaling course in Greg’s hometown of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
It always feels like a homecoming for us to be in this friendly city and the Syndicate was welcomed back by all Greg’s family and friends. The local support of the race is big and there were many improvements to the track and the race venue. Training went well all week and the boys came into the season fit and lean. Greg was fastest in qualifier by the slimmest margin of .008 over Aaron Gwin and he picked up max points for his efforts. Steve was 11th fastest and Josh 17th.
Rain was on and off during the week and we had quite a bit come down on race night. Things dried up quick and we had a beautiful day for the race. Everyone got to the top of the hill eager to get the season underway. Greg started into his race run and made a few mistakes and was 2 seconds down at the first split. He gained some time by the second split and was only 1 second off the pace. Steve said, “Greg can make up that time.” As Greg neared the finish the volume of the crowd was at a fevered pitch and this certainly had to boost the effort into overdrive. As the leader board went green the oneLife crew of friends pushed the fence down and flooded into the finish arena while Steve lifted Greg off the ground in victory.
An ecstatic Greg says, “I made a few mistakes on the top part of the track and I knew I had to make up some time. On the bottom section I had to stand and pedal hard and I fought all the way to the finish. You know when you are coming into the finish and you see the oneLife crew breaking the fence down that you’ve had a good run. And then Steve jumped over the fence and grabbed me I knew I had won. It’s a great feeling to do well in front of all my family and friends and their support is amazing!”
Steve comments, “Another great weekend racing in Maritzburg. The fans and the onelife crew made it an awesome weekend, and I feel privileged that it was my 100th World Cup start. Luckily the track dried out and made the racing fast and tight. Although I wasn’t too happy with my 15th place result, I was over the moon for Greg. He dug deep and took the win for the home crowd!!”
Josh placed 21st and said, “After a hard winter training I don’t feel I quite did myself justice on my race run, but I left it all on the hill and the bike feels better than ever. I’m really happy for Greg, not only just with the win in his hometown, but starting the season with a win and full points. Also good to see Peaty Dog still has a little bit of fire in him, as always.”
The win makes Greg’s 16th World Cup win (11 on Santa Cruz) and is his 53rd World Cup Downhill podium, (besting Steve’s 52 podiums). Greg now leads the World Cup overall with 250 points over Aaron Gwin’s 200 points. Steve is 14th in the standings and Josh is 17th. Greg will be in the leader jersey going into the next World Cup in Val Di Sole, Italy in May.
Men's overall standings:
1ST GREG MINNAAR (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 250
2nd Aaron Gwin 200
3rd Mick Hannah 160
4th Gee Atherton 150
5th Steve Smith 140
6th Jared Graves 111
7th Troy Brosnan 107
8th Andrew Neethling 105
9th Cedric Gracia (Brigade, Santa Cruz) 93
10th Aurellien Giordanengo 85
14th STEVE PEAT (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 80
17 JOSH BRYCELAND (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 68
Thanks to the Syndicate Sponsors:
Santa Cruz Bicycles
Gore® RideOn™ Cable Systems