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MTBAustriaJune 12, 2005
UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup 2005 Round 03: Austria

Minnaar Retains Lead in World Cup After Round 3

Greg Minnaar finished 4th today in the 3rd round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Schladming, Austria, after a crash early in the race, yet still earned enough points to hold the series lead before moving across the Atlantic Ocean for round 4 in two weeks.

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

There is no doubt that the 4 minute course in Schladming has already earned itself a reputation as one of the all time classic courses, after only two years of World Cup racing. The highly demanding technical course on a super steep gradient has spectacular wooded sections, high speed open corners and a reputation for being very unforgiving on those that step up the pace beyond the course or their own limits.

Unfortunately Matti Lehikoinen learned this the hard way as he crashed in both the semi final and the final, with the latter crash severe enough that he had to be taken to hospital. The good news is that despite fears he may have broken his collarbone, the final assessment is that he has a distortion of the ACL joint in his left shoulder, and will be out of action for 10 days. This was very disappointing for Matti who has been having a great season up until this race, and in timed training on Saturday had recorded the 2nd and 4th fastest times of the day.

For the semi final, both Greg and Matti were aiming to earn important points for their overall result. Greg finished a solid second behind Aussie Sam Hill, and Matti finished 55th after losing 20 seconds in a fall that smashed the front of his helmet.

The weather changed back and forth all day, alternating between sunshine and steady showers, and with half the course undercover of trees and the other half out in the open, tyre choice was once again critical for the final.

Both riders opted for wet weather tyres as it soon became obvious that the earlier riders were having success on wet tyres. In Matti's final, starting nearly one hour before Greg, all was flowing well with Matti recording the fastest interval time of the day (unbeaten even by the race winner) until he arrived at a wooded section where the front of the bike got caught up on a tree root and Matti flew over the handlebars landing heavily on his left shoulder. Unable to get himself disconnected for the bike he eventually got to his feet with the help of course marshals, then proceeded to continue his run down the course. However, after the first major jump he felt immense pain in his shoulder and realized he had an injury. He then rolled to the line one handed and was taken to hospital, and released 90 minutes later.

For Greg his run started with a small mistake in the first 150m of the course where a small lapse of concentration found him on the ground in one of the tight switchback corners. He recovered quickly but it was already valuable time lost. Greg's time of 4 min 14.95 seconds was good enough for 4th place behind 3 talented Australians. Winning the race with an extraordinary performance was Sam Hill who took maximum points this week.

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

#9 Greg Minnaar (4th Place)
"I had a pretty silly crash at the top of the course, nothing serious, but enough to stop the rhythm of my run for a bit. After that though I was focused on getting to the bottom in one piece and earning as many points as I could. It was clear Sam was on form this week so I knew he'd be the man to beat in the final. His time was really strong. I'm happy, considering the fall, to be on the podium and to hold onto the leader's jersey going to Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada, one of my favorite courses."

#11 Matti Lehikoinen (77th Place))
"I put too much pressure on myself. I think that is the main problem. I really wanted to do well here after I finished 7th on this course in 2004. Everything went well all week until today and then I crashed in morning training, the semi and the final, so it seems I was probably a little too excited at perhaps getting on the podium. I'm lucky to be walking around without broken bones. It was a heavy fall and I just need to rest a bit before the next World Cup."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"A tough weekend, that could have been a lot worse. Matti's injury will mean he cannot race the NORBA race next week, and we'll have him further assessed before racing in round 4 of the World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne in 2 weeks time. The other competitors are getting closer to Greg in the chase for the leader's jersey so we need to focus on this in the next few races."

UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup 2005
Round 03: Austria


1 Sam Hill (Iron Horse Mad Catz)
2 Chris Kovarik (Intense Bicycles)
3 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
4 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
5 Julien Camellini (Commencal Oxbow)
6 Mickael Pascal (Maxxis-MSC)
7 Cedric Gracia (Siemens Cannondale)
8 Gee Atherton (Animal Giant)
9 Justin Leov (Fox Shox Racing)
10 David Vazquez (Maxxis-MSC)
77 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Related Links

· MTB - UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
· Austria

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