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MTBU.S.A.August 1, 2004
NORBA Series Downhill Round 4
Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho, USA

Greg Minnaar Wins His Third Straight NORBA Downhill Race

Returning after a three week break from racing, Team G Cross Honda's lead rider, World Champion Greg Minnaar, showed he was keen to get back on the podium by storming to another win. This week it was stop number 4 in the NORBA Downhill series, which took place at Schweitzer Mountain in the US State of Idaho, on the notoriously dusty and rough 2.6km course which Greg has failed to do well on in previous visits. Despite the history, Greg took his Honda RN01 to victory to not only claim his third straight NORBA win, but also extend his series lead to almost 50 points.

Greg Minnaar

Greg Minnaar

Training went well as there was very little need to vary the set up of the bike due to the weather conditions remaining constant throughout the training sessions. The main thing about this course however is the fact that it is one of the roughest on the world circuit for the athletes due to severe arm pump, and therefore it is critical to choose the right amount of training runs. Knowing the right number of runs for course knowledge as opposed to over-training and possibly being physically affected for the race day, is key.

For the qualifying run, Greg chose to ride a little more conservatively so as to not suffer from arm pump for the final. The recovery time between races, at around 2 to 3 hours depending on start times, is usually enough to recover, however this course is more demanding than most. Greg found that riding conservatively meant that his slower speeds over the rough sections actually sucked his bike into the holes and ruts, losing even more time. So despite just trying to be smooth and consistent in the qualifier, Greg found he gave away more than 7 seconds to Nathan Rennie, the 2003 World Cup Champion, who was making his first appearance on the NORBA circuit this year.

After seeing how much time he had given away to Nathan, Greg knew that in that the final it was all going to come down to how much speed he could carry out of each corner. This would allow him to get his Honda to float over, not sink into, the dusty holes and ruts that linked the corners down the mountain. Now more than ever his fitness would play a key role in harmony with the Honda's agility out of the corners. Greg warmed up very well, timing his period on the warm-up bike perfectly to his race start, and then put together a near perfect run without incident, and was the first and only rider to go under the 4m 30 mark all weekend. He had to wait at the bottom of the course for 2 other riders to know if he had the win, namely John Kirkcaldie, his main threat in the chase for the NORBA title, and Nathan Rennie. John had a disappointing run, finishing 6th and 10 seconds slower than Greg, but Nathan came very close finishing 2nd and only 1.2 seconds off the winning time.

Greg Minnaar (1st Place Finisher)
“I'm really thrilled with today's win. I've never done well here before - finishing 7th last year, and I knew I had to really put it together in the final today with guys like Nathan and Sam here this week, and my points situation with John. The course didn't change much between the qualifier and the final so I knew it was all going to come down to how I could get out of the corners and keep my top speed over the bumps. My arms took a beating this week but I'm stoked to have won and to have a healthier lead in the series. I'm looking forward to next weekend already!”

Team Director Martin Whiteley
“A great ride today by Greg, and the whole crew did a great job to ensure he was on the best machine possible. Suspension set up was impeccable and the work done by the team mechanics is always of the highest standard. I'm very proud of the whole team today.”

Meanwhile Greg's team mate Cyrille Kurtz has had racing duties in Europe due to the qualification requirements of his National federation to participate in next months World Championships. Cyrille raced the French National Championships on July 18 and finished 2nd in the junior category despite riding the top section of the course "a little too conservatively." In contrast at the European Championships yesterday, Cyrille decided to ride the course more aggressively and all was looking good for a podium result until a small mistake at speed, after clipping a tree, sent him off course and he lost valuable time regaining his speed. Cyrille finished 5th, 4.8 seconds off the win.

Both riders will race this coming weekend in Aspen Colorado, at the 5th and penultimate round of the NORBA Downhill Series, before going into a 2 week high altitude training camp in Colorado.
NORBA Series Downhill Round 4
Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho, USA


Final Results
1 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
2 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
3 Sam Hill (Team Ironhorse)
4 Joel Panozzo (Progressive)
5 Dustin Adams (Team Giant Pearl Izumi)
6 John Kirkcaldie (Team Maxxis USA)
7 Henry O'Donnell (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
8 Duncan Riffle (Chumba Wumba)
9 Bryn Atkinson (Team Ironhorse/Madcatz)
10 Curtis Keene (WTB-Santa Cruz)

Greg Minnaar
(Team G Cross Honda)

Related Links

· Union Cycliste Internationale
· Honda Worldwide | MTB - Mountain Bike Downhill Race
· U.S.A.

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