Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate/SRAM/RockShox), starts off the UCI World Cup downhill season with a big win. He put together a brilliant run to win the season opener in Maribor, Slovenia in the most dismal conditions on a course Greg would describe as “the hardest course I’ve ever ridden because of the mud and rain.” Teammates Josh Bryceland and Steve Peat strung together less than optimal runs for disappointing 16th and 45th positions respectively.
The week rolled out nicely as all our flights arrived without further volcanic interference. Steve, Josh and Greg got up to speed on their new carbon V-10’s early in the week on a drying course for the first day of practice and enjoyed being back in Maribor. As expected, the rain arrived for the rest of the week.
This was a technical track under difficult conditions where many people don’t think of Greg as being suited to a track like this, but he bloody well is. He unequivocally proved that he shines on any track, any time. Greg has trained hard to come back after a serious leg injury he sustained in November and he is in a very good place now and he knows his training has been right.
He felt a bit of pressure last week being down in practice run times last week during the carbon V-10 testing in Lousa. In fact, his lowest time had him wearing a dress out to dinner. He was clearly wearing the pants today as he put his strengths to work using his powerful mind and his pedaling prowess to deliver a great performance.
The Santa Cruz Bicycles engineers that designed and developed the carbon V-10 were here to see their years of hard work manifest into reality. They were excited to witness Greg’s win first hand and it was a win for them, as well as the entire Syndicate.
With the win still sinking in, Greg said, “When I pedaled out the gate my mechanic, ‘Doug E. Fresh’, yelled out “oneLife” and it made me laugh and put a big smile on my face. The win was really unexpected. I was hoping to leave Maribor with a top three to start the season in a solid position. Considering the course conditions, my past results here and a 3rd in qualifying I would have been stoked with a top three. I felt after the qualifier that I could race for the win and not just for a podium. We’ve been on the road for 2 weeks now and I’ve been adjusting to the carbon bike and working with all the guys from Santa Cruz has been great. It’s nice to be getting on a plane home with a win under my belt ending the trip on a high.”
Josh was underwhelmed with his ranking after having great practice runs and a good qualifier. He had high hopes to keep things going as he had practiced, and he caught a slower rider in the qualifier where he placed 7th. He went into the final ready to charge, but just couldn’t get it flowing properly and finished 16th.
Steve was very disappointed with his race run. Riders were only allowed one practice run on race day due to the gondola being shutdown due to winds. On his practice run Steve hit a tree quite hard and thought he might have separated his shoulder slightly. He was still well prepared for the race, but pin balling off of trees slowed him down and he finished an uncharacteristic 45th place.
Rob Roskopp says, “It was great to see Greg win on such a super technical, awful, muddy course against others that are suppose to be better, but obviously weren’t. It was great to be the first carbon bike with carbon wheels to win a World Cup downhill. It’s an amazing way to start out the year.”
This is Greg’s 12th World Cup downhill career win, 7 of those on Santa Cruz. He goes into the next World Cup at Ft. William, Scotland where he has quite a bit of good history and he’ll be wearing the UCI leader’s jersey. Josh is still chasing the podium and Steve hasn’t been in this position in a long while and will be hungry for redemption.
TOP FIVE MEN’S DOWNHILL:
1ST: GREG MINNAAR (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 3:23.42
2ND: GEE ATHERTON 3:23.67
3rd: BRENDAN FAIRCLOUGH 3:25.24
4TH: FABIEN PEDEMANAUD 3:25.84
5TH: SAM HILL 3:28.10
(6TH: STEVE SMITH!)
THANKS TO THE SYNDICATE SPONSORS:
SANTA CRUZ BICYCLES
SRAM, ROCKSHOX, AVID, TRUVATIV
TROY LEE DESIGNS