Greg Minnaar Claims Second Career Mountain Bike Downhill World Championship
It had been nine years since South Africa’s Greg Minnaar won his first world championship, and this weekend it looked like not a day had passed since his first victory in 2003. Minnaar secured his second set of rainbow stripes this weekend at the 2012 Mountain Bike Downhill World Championships in Leogang, Austria.
As the second-to-last rider to take off down the fast, root-heavy course, Minnaar saw a plethora of extremely quick times before his turn. Australia’s Mick Hannah set the standard as the first man to take the leading time under 3:24. There were only 10 riders left at that point, but it didn’t take long before Canada’s Steve Smith shaved down the leading time, only to be immediately replaced by the eventual third place finisher Gee Atherton of Great Britain. Minnaar shot down the course narrowly clipping Atherton’s time by .5 seconds, lining him up as the potential champion. The only man left with the chance to dethrone Minnaar was America’s Aaron Gwin, the winner of nine of the last thirteen World Cup races.
Sitting atop the hot seat, Minnaar didn’t have to sweat long as Gwin was on the unfortunate receiving end of a mechanical issue with his bike, ultimately finishing 83rd overall. Minnaar was visibly relieved as his team surrounded him to celebrate his second career world championship.
“I had a lot of pressure today, I was super nervous,” Minnaar said. “To be honest, I tried to nail the top section, just after the bridge I lost a lot of speed, I had to pedal hard. I couldn’t believe I crossed the line in first.”
While Minnaar was thrilled about his victory, he also noted the unfortunate finish for Gwin, but also explained how all riders were subject to mechanical issues in the sport of mountain bike racing.
“It is not exactly the best way for me to win, or how I’d like to win.” He said “But we are all out there trying our best. We all have mechanicals from time to time, that’s part of racing.”
Minnar took first place in a Men’s Elite division that saw 116 of the world’s best riders take to the course in Austria. While this was the perfect end to his 2012 campaign, Minnaar has a special season to look forward to in 2013, as the world championships will be held in his hometown of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, where he will work to defend his title. Minnaar won this year’s World Cup stop in Pietermaritzburg on a course from which he lives just a few short kilometers from.
Congratulations to Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) on an epic second career world championship as well as fellow Oakley athletes Atherton and Smith on their second and third place respective finishes.