MTB > 2005 UCI Round 01: Spain > Race Results
MTBSpainMay 1, 2005
2005 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 01: Spain

Minnaar Takes Podium at Spain

The 2005 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup kicked off this weekend on the Atlantic coast of Spain, on the outskirts of the city of Vigo, in front of an estimated 25,000 spectators. The Downhill race today saw Greg Minnaar (RSA) take the podium with a strong 2nd place finish, and young newcomer to the team Matti Lehikoinen (FIN) finishing an impressive 7th, just 0.3 seconds off the podium.



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


Vigo is a new venue for the World Cup circuit and the course proved to be very popular among the top riders who found the roughly two and half minutes of trail, just a few kilometers from the city centre, to be an excellent mix of speed and technical terrain. Known for mixed weather at this time of the year, and after a week of rain prior to the event, the training in Vigo took place in near perfect conditions. Timed training on Saturday saw Greg with the 3rd fastest time and Matti 4th, and this was to set the tone for the semi final today.

Today saw the return of the rain in the morning and a change in the course. Due to the slippery conditions the race officials eliminated a large rocky section that had already caused World Champion Fabien Barel to crash in training earlier in the week. The riders then by-passed this section, which slowed them by a few seconds but otherwise the course was ideal for racing, as the sun came out later in the day.

The first race of the season is always difficult, as the riders don't always know where they stand with their main opponents, both in physical and technical preparation. With a month until Round 2 in Germany, the main goal for both Greg and Matti was to score solid points and get the World Cup campaign off to a smooth start. With 50 points up for grabs in the semi final both riders went for solid runs. Greg finished 3rd with a time of 2min 36.303s, and amazingly, Matti finished just 1/1000th of a second behind Greg with 2min 36.304s, for a 4th place. This gave both riders strong points and set the scene for the final.

For the final the course had dried out even more and both riders opted for dry tyres despite Matti having used semi-mud tyres for the semi final race. Matti finished the final with a strong time of 2min 33.492s taking nearly 3 seconds off his morning time. Greg then came down the course and took Sam Hill, 2004 World Cup 2nd placed rider, out of the hot seat with the fastest time of the day at 2min 28.668s. The time wasn't beaten by the next rider Mick Hannah however 2004 World Cup Champion Steve Peat once again showed how strong he could be at the start of the season with an impressive 2min 25.791s. This meant that Greg's 2nd in the final, and his 3rd in the semi final, secured him a strong 2nd overall in the Series thus far. Matti's 4th in the semi final, and his eventual 7th in the final, means that he now stands 6th in the World Cup overall, his best ever standing in the series.

Team G Cross Honda is also, for the first time, the leading UCI team in Downhill competition.



Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


#9 Greg Minnaar (2nd Place)
"I'm incredibly happy with this result. I came to this event a little tired from training so I wasn't sure I could be as fast as I was today, so this is a great result for me. I have some work to do to bridge the gap to Peaty, and that will be my main goal for Round 2 in Willingen, in about a month from now. The new version of the RN01 bike was great today, and especially with some of our new components on board for this season. The race too was a great success, the fans were really into the racing and that always makes the day just a bit more special."

#11 Matti Lehikoinen (7th Place)
"I was a little uncertain when I switched from wet to dry tyres, not knowing exactly how the bike would handle, so I was a bit conservative in the first part of the course during the final, and I think that cost me half a second, but Iím really happy to know that Iím so close to the podium already. My semi final run was great and considering where I am with my physical preparation right now, Iím really looking forward to the main part of the season, in June and July."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"Both riders performed above expectation this week and so that is always a welcome result. The bikes were flawless and this is mainly due to the tireless efforts of the mechanics and engineers who did a great job in the days leading up to this race. We have some improving to do before Round 2, but already we are very happy with 2nd and 6th in the overall, and to have the lead in the UCI Team Ranking."


2005 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 01: Spain

line

1 Steve Peat (Team Orange)
2 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
3 Sam Hill (Iron Horse Mad Catz)
4 Mick Hannah (Haro Bikes)
5 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
6 Fabien Barel (Kona Les Gets)
7 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
8 Mickael Pascal (Maxxis-MSC)
9 Gee Atherton (Animal Giant)
10 Bryn Atkinson (GT Hyundai)



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

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