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MTBCanadaJuly 4, 2004
UCI World Cup Downhill Round 5
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Greg Minnaar finishes 10th in Muddy and Difficult World Cup #5

The short permanent downhill course in Calgary’s Olympic Park, just minutes away from the city center was at the center of controversy today when three riders made very strong protests as they crossed the line, due to the slow and frustrating conditions in the rain. For Team G Cross Honda, the main concern was tire choice, and in the end the incorrect tire choice kept Greg Minnaar from the podium this week, but for Cyrille Kurtz his tires were fine, it was just the extreme conditions which prevented him from being the number one junior in the race.



Greg Minnaar


Greg Minnaar

Training for both riders went well as the conditions were predominantly dry during the week and this short course, with a small vertical drop, was not too difficult in dry fast conditions. On Friday the riders took part in the timed training session and World Champion Greg Minnaar scored the fastest time with a 2m 05.42secs, and Cyrille Kurtz was 21st with 2m 10.83secs. Saturday saw the first major rain on the course and it became very clear that this course would be extremely difficult when wet due to the high content of clay in the soil, which becomes very sticky and too difficult to ride through. Everyone was hoping that Sunday would be dry, with the chance of an afternoon thunderstorm (like all days previous), but in the end it turned out to be the coldest and wettest day of the week.

Race strategy for Cyrille’s semi final was to ride as fast as possible in the technical sections, but in the straight pedaling sections to not pedal and keep his legs fresh for the final. For Greg the aim was to not qualify as quickly as the top riders so that he could get down early and hopefully score a strong time for the others to chase and maybe put them under pressure on a non-forgiving course. Both riders carried out these strategies successfully with Cyrille qualifying in 33rd and Greg in 11th. Following this the riders decided on their tire choice for the finals. Both decided on modified or “cut” Maxxis Swamp Thing tires, made for mud. These tires, cut in a certain way, allow the riders to pedal more efficiently on the long flat pedaling sections.

In the final, Cyrille was the first of the Team G Cross Honda riders to come down and he crossed the line in 12th place, however, there were many more riders to come. He wasn’t happy with his run saying that after the first 30 seconds, he simply didn’t have enough power in his legs in the muddy conditions to push his Honda RN01 to a higher position. He reported that the course was essentially the same as the morning semi final, and his tires worked well. This information was passed to Greg before he started. Unfortunately for Greg, shortly after this, the course became more slippery and his modified tires were not going to perform well in the difficult forest sections and over the slippery rocks. At the half way split Greg was 1.91secs in front of the fastest time, so he was on schedule before entering the forest, but this is where the trouble began. In the difficult “Chute” drop, his bike went completely sideways and was facing in completely the wrong direction for the right hand corner that follows. He needed to spin the bike 180 degrees to get back on course. He lost further time in other corners that followed and ultimately finished 10th.  

With these results, Greg maintains his 9th ranking overall in the World Cup, and Cyrille moves up to 38th. This is after 5 races, of which Team G Cross Honda has done three.



Cyrille Kurtz


Cyrille Kurtz

Greg Minnaar (10th-place finisher)
“The course was so different to this morning’s semi final. I made a mistake with my tire choice and I have to live with that. Other top riders chose the same tires as me and finished even further back, in the 30’s and 40’s, so I’m happy to have just scraped into the top 10. I really had no control for most of the race as it was like riding on ice. I’m really not chasing the World Cup overall this year, I’m chasing podium results, and I took a chance on tires today that didn’t pay off. That’s how racing goes in the wet, one week your lucky, and the next week your luck goes out the window.”

Cyrille Kurtz (28th-place finisher)
“Slowly but surely I am getting higher in the rankings, but it’s been very difficult. This is such a sprinter’s course and riding in these conditions is very tough for me, I don’t have that physical strength yet, maybe due to my age. My legs just felt empty after the first flat section. I’m looking forward to getting back to Europe next week and preparing for the last half of the season, and the World Championships.”

Team Director Martin Whiteley
“Probably the most difficult aspect of our sport is wet weather racing, especially when the course changes during the race. I know Greg is disappointed because we know what his real semi final time was, without the slow down for tactics, and he was right up there. Cutting the tires gives you an advantage in the flat sticky sections, but you lose grip in the technical and rocky sections. If you don’t cut the tires, you can get slowed down too much in the flat sections. It seems that the technical sections, in today’s race conditions, were more critical than the flat sections, so we all learned from the race today. Overall I’m happy with the performance of our riders, and the Honda bike has been very impressive in these tough conditions, with no mechanical issues whatsoever.”

The team now has a 3 week break from competitions together. Cyrille will contest the French National Championships on July 17 and 18, and then the European Championships in Poland from July 26 to August 1. Greg’s next competition will be round 4 of the US NORBA Downhill Series in Idaho, USA. Greg is currently leading that series, with 3 races to go.


UCI World Cup Downhill Round 5
Calgary, Alberta, Canada


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Final Results
 
1 David Vazquez (Maxxis-MSC)
2 Markolf Berchtold (Maxxis-MSC)
3 Steve Peat (Team Orange)
4 Mickael Pascal (Maxxis-MSC)
5 Colin Bailey (Maxxis-USA)
6 John Kirkcaldie (Maxxis-USA)
7 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
8 Guido Tschugg (Fusion MTB Pro Racing)
9 Matti Lehikoinen (23 Degrees/Orange)
10 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
28 Cyrille Kurtz (Team G Cross Honda)
 

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