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MTBItalySeptember 3, 2005
World Championship

Greg Minnaar Takes Bronze Medal at World Championships

Team G Cross Honda rider Greg Minnaar (RSA), who recently became the number 1 ranked downhill rider in the world on the UCI Rankings, took his 4th World Championship medal in 5 years when he finished 3rd in today's Men's Downhill final in Livigno, Italy. The demanding high speed 4 minute course was rained upon with 50 minutes of racing remaining, and then gusty winds picked up making some of the high speed jumps more dangerous than normal.



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


2004 World Champion Fabien Barel, who started mid field and almost 1 hour before Greg in perfect weather conditions, took the win and therefore successfully defended his title, on a course that he also won on in 2004 when Livigno hosted the World Cup finals.

The seeding run, or qualification, for the World Championships are held two days in advance on Thursday and both Greg and his team mate Matti Lehikoinen (FIN) rode fairly conservatively to make it safely through to the finals. The course, which was 75% out in the open, and 25% in woods, proved to be an important one for aerodynamics as the fastest qualifiers were shown to be wearing skin suits as opposed to the loose fitting MX clothing. Several national teams made the wearing of skin suits compulsory for their riders, and soon after their runs, both Greg and Matti decided to run skin suits or similar tight fitting kit for the benefit of aerodynamics.

In the final today Fabien Barel rode a flawless race and in perfect conditions in the middle of the field after qualifying 15 seconds slower than the top riders giving himself a different start position to all the other lead riders. This turned out to be fortunate as shortly before Matti's run, light rain started to fall as the temperature dropped and the winds picked up. Matti had a solid run despite the changed weather conditions and finished 20th with a time of 4min 07.64s.

Greg hit the intermediate split time at just 1.8 seconds behind Fabien to be the closest to challenge him to that point, but a couple of small mistakes before the intermediate time meant that it was going to be difficult to surpass the time set of 3min 54.77s. Greg crossed the line with 3min 57.79s and only Sam Hill (AUS) went faster. Greg scored the fastest speed in the UCI speed trap of all the podium riders, at 50.46km/h, with Fabien Barel at 50.00km/h and Sam Hill at 49.20km/h.



Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


#2 Greg Minnaar (3rd Place)
"I gave it everything I could today but I think the weather threw things out a bit. The light rain that came before my run had the last riders concerned about how slippery the top open section was going to be so I came into those sections a bit too cautiously, only to find they had dried up. I would have really liked to win, but I'm still happy with my run, and I congratulate Fabien on his win today. The Honda RN01 worked flawlessly all week and the Maxxis tyres hooked up perfectly."

#13 Matti Lehikoinen (20th Place)
"The wind on the first two jumps was really strong and I was nearly blown off my bike. That was pretty unsettling but then I got back into my rhythm and the rest of the run went pretty well. I'm looking forward to having surgery in the next 2 weeks so I can get my strength back in the left arm. It's been difficult racing at this level with my arm not working like it should."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"While we are disappointed to not win the race today, it is still satisfying to see Greg on the podium once again. He has not placed outside of the top 4 in all of his major races this year, so for consistency, the bike and Greg have proven to be very strong. Matti rode well but his injury is still an issue and we know that he will return to full strength once this is fixed. Now we look forward to Fort William for the World Cup finals next week."


World Championship: Italy

line

1 Fabien Barel (Kona Les Gets)
2 Sam Hill (Iron Horse Mad Catz)
3 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
4 Steve Peat (Team Orange)
5 Gee Atherton (Team Animal Giant)
6 Karim Amour (Team France)
7 Bryn Atkinson (Hyundai GT)
8 Cedric Gracia (Siemens Cannondale)
9 Nathan Rankin (Team New Zealand)
10 Marc Beaumont (MBUK Santa Cruz)
20 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

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