MOUNTAIN BIKE DOWNHILL CHAMPION
Greg Minnaar rips it up at Fort William
As the rain fell and the mud began to cling, South African Greg Minnaar flew down a hill in Scotland to win the second leg of the UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup in Fort William on Sunday.
It was Minnaar’s 20th World Cup win, entrenching his position as the most successful downhill mountain biker on the planet on a course that has played host to some of the most significant times in his career.
Minnaar has won seven times on the Scottish track, overcoming a slippery and muddy middle section that caught many out, and repeating his victory from 2016.
We just go from race to race. The new bike is working well, I am feeling good and let’s see how it rips
"It wasn’t easy at the top of the course," said Minnaar, who rides for the Santa Cruz Syndicate team. "I knew the track was wet and there would be mud. I had to pull a tear-off [from his goggles to get rid of the mud] so I could see before the forest section. This was the toughest win here. I worked for this one."
Minnaar, a three-time world champion, is 35, but is showing that he is far from the twilight of his long career. The Pietermaritzburg man had qualified quickest for Sunday’s leg after easing down the hill in uncertain conditions on Saturday.
With new, younger teammates in the Santa Cruz squad, Minnaar is intent on showing them and the rest of the field he is not yet done. The muddy forest section caught out many riders on the day, and almost did for Minnaar.
"I made a bit of a mistake. I jumped in. I took a bit of a risky line jumping in. I kinda bumped off a rut and almost went off course, so I tried to calm it down and ride it smooth to the end.
"I wanted to avoid being stupid and get there as sweet as I could. It’s all happening for the Syndicate in 2017. The other boys had a few bad crashes today [Sunday], but they held the fort in Lourdes and today it was my turn."
Minnaar beat Australian Jack Moir by three seconds, with Aaron Gwin in third.
The World Cup series now moves to Leogang, Austria, next weekend, with Minnaar expected to challenge for top honours yet again.
"We just go from race to race. The new bike is working well, I am feeling good and let’s see how it rips."