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MTBU.K.June 6, 2004
UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 1
Fort William, Scotland

Greg Minnaar Wins the Opening Round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Scotland

In front of a crowd of 20,000 downhill racing fans, Team G-Cross Honda rider Greg Minnaar (RSA) scored the first major win of the season by taking the opening round of the UCI World Cup here in Scotland today. With all of the world’s top riders in attendance this was always going to be a tough challenge for Minnaar who has only ever won one World Cup downhill race before, and that was back in 2001 in Kaprun, Austria.



Greg Minnaar


Greg Minnaar

Practice for the event went well for both Greg and his 17 year old team mate Cyrille Kurtz (FRA), with no major incidents, and with a lot of information coming from the telemetry bike used this week. The course here in Fort William is extremely demanding on suspension and this week the Showa technicians did an amazing job to ensure that both Greg and Cyrille’s bikes performed at the highest possible level.

In the semi final Cyrille rode a brilliant race finishing 10th. This was well ahead of expectations and he was also well clear of the next junior rider some 10 seconds back. Cyrille’s 10th meant that both the Honda RN01’s had qualified top 10 for the final. Greg had qualified 6th in a run that he described as “fast in the second half.” Both riders were very happy with their semi final runs and knew that extra time could be made up in the finals later in the day.

The popular British favorite, Steve Peat, had qualified first, and would have the added pressure of starting last. For Greg, starting 6th from last was not a big concern as he felt there was a chance he could push his Honda bike harder than previously shown. Cyrille went to the top of the hill with the hope of holding his top 10 result from the semi finals.

But not everything went to plan. Unfortunately Cyrille had a crash in the top half of the course and lost a lot of time as he tried to recover. The loss was around 10 seconds, giving him a time of 4m 35.96secs. Disappointing for Cyrille because he knows that if he had held his time from the semi final, with no crash, he would have been close to top 10 in the final result.

Greg’s chance was yet to come. After watching 2003 World Cup Champion Nathan Rennie (AUS) start before him, Greg knew he had to put everything together to gain the hot seat. Rennie’s time of 4m16.62secs stood for just a few minutes until Greg came into the finish area with an almost unbelievable 4m 10.24secs (average speed 38.27km/h). Now it was just the waiting game as 5 riders remained, and they were 5 of the biggest in the sport. The first 4 each failed to beat Greg’s time, then the British crowd waited to see if their man Steve Peat could unhinge the victory from Minnaar. In the end Peat’s time of 4m14.17secs would not be enough and Greg walked away with a victory margin of 3.36secs, which is quite large in men’s Downhill racing.



Cyrille Kurtz


Greg Minnaar

Greg Minnaar (Winner)
"It’s never easy to beat Peaty in front of a home crowd, but I am just so happy for the Honda Team and everyone who has worked so hard in the previous weeks to get this bike so competitive. It rode beautifully all week here and I’m just so excited to win this prestigious race in Fort William. I had a perfect run which almost never happens in our sport. There were a couple of times I came close to crashing, but overall I pinned every corner how I imagined, which is a great feeling."

Cyrille Kurtz (50th-place finisher)
"Of course I’m really disappointed about my final result because I know it was a possibility to get top 20 or even top 10 this week. The bike was great, I just made an error going too fast in the top half, but at the end, I have to be happy with my top 10 qualifier in the semi final. For Greg I am super happy."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"I am extremely happy today. We tried a few different tactics with Greg that paid off, and I’m really happy about that. He rode an amazing race, his top half was extraordinary and pay tribute to his fitness level for that. Cyrille also impressed me greatly this weekend. To run a top 10 in the semi finals at a World Cup, at just 17, shows he has a great future, and a lot of race-craft for someone so young. But most importantly it’s a big thank you to the Showa guys who had our suspension as good as or better than any bike out there today, and also to Honda for amazing support. This win is not just great for Greg and our team, but also great for the sport in general."

Greg is the current leader of the World Cup with 217 points, and Cyrille is in position 39 with 12 points. The team now leaves for the USA to continue with its campaign to win the 2004 NORBA Series.

UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 1
Fort William, Scotland


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Final Results
 
1 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
2 Cedric Gracia (Siemens Cannondale)
3 Sam Hill (Team Ironhorse)
4 Steve Peat (Team Orange)
5 Mickael Pascal (Maxxis MSC)
6 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
7 Fabien Barel (Kona Clarks Les Gets)
8 Gee Atherton (Team Muddy Fox)
9 Justin Havukainen (Australia)
10 Marc Beaumont (Team Orange)
50 Cyrille Kurtz (Team G Cross Honda)


Greg Minnaar

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