MTB > UCI 2005 Round 04: Canada > Race Results
MTBCanadaJune 26, 2005
UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup 2005 Round 04: Canada

Minnaar Extends Lead in World Cup After Round 4

Team G Cross Honda rider Greg Minnaar finished a close 2nd today in the 4th round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, after setting the fastest time in the semi-finals earlier in the day. The 23 year old South African, on board his Honda RN01, had a very strong final to finish just half a second off the reigning World Champion Fabien Barel (FRA).

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg’s team mate, Matti Lehikoinen (FIN), made a strong return to racing after a serious shoulder injury two weeks ago put him out of action for 10 days. 21 year old Matti started training cautiously on Thursday to see whether or not his shoulder would be strong enough for the demanding 5 minute course which has become a classic over the years. This year the course returned back to its former long format, instead of the shorter 2 minute course, which was warmly welcomed by most riders who liked the longer course for its challenging forest and high speed rough sections.

For Matti the main concern was not to hit his shoulder on any of the many trees that lined the course, and risk a long term injury. Despite one crash in training, Matti managed to increase his speed throughout training sessions to record a top ten competitive training time. Greg also had excellent training sessions with one or two crashes while testing his limits, and recorded the 2nd fastest training time, just a second off World Champion Fabien Barel who has twice won on this course (World Cup 2000 and the Junior World Championships in 1998).

In the semi final both riders aimed to run a strong race but without taking too many risks. Matti scored a time good enough for 12th place, just 0.4 seconds off his target of top 10, and Greg scored a super fast 5 min 05s to be more than 5 seconds ahead of 2nd place, and scored a valuable 50 points. It was clear that Fabien Barel did not rider the semi final at full speed and the team knew he remained the man to be beat. Top World Cup contender Sam Hill was out of the race this week with a fractured elbow after an accident in training the week before.

The main goal for the final for Greg was to stay ahead of the main contenders for the overall championship, and in particular Nathan Rennie (AUS), the 2003 World Cup Champion, who was now the man in pursuit of Greg. This meant that Fabien Barel, who was more than 300 points behind, was not a threat for overall and there was little point risking everything to try and take victory, when points for the overall were the main priority. For Matti, a solid top 10 result was the target in his first week back from injury.

The course was super tough for punctures with more than 15 riders puncturing on the fast stony sections. Tire pressures were critical and fortunately, despite a few heavy hits with rocks on the course, Matti’s Maxxis tires did the job as he cruised across the line with a time 4 seconds quicker than his semi final, which was ultimately good enough for 8th place, a great return.

With Greg the last rider to leave from the top, Fabien Barel recorded a 5 min 02s time to take the lead, some 6 seconds faster than the next rider. Greg had believed a time under 5 minutes was possible, but at the interval time, was 0.89 seconds down on Barel. This gap was reduced down to 0.52 seconds by the finish, but not quite enough to take the win. Fabien Barel becomes the 4th different winner in 4 races, and Greg extends his overall World Cup lead to 260 points.

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

#9 Greg Minnaar (2nd Place)
"I had a great run. I lost a little time in the second half of the course when my foot left the pedal, but in the end I decided not to risk everything for the win. The overall World Cup is the main target and to do that you have to be super consistent at all 8 races, and stay uninjured. So far I've managed to get on the podium in all four races so I'm happy with the lead we have now. The bike performed perfectly all week, it's super suited to this course. I love racing here in Mont-Sainte-Anne because I've had some great races here, this one included."

#11 Matti Lehikoinen (8th Place)
"It's good to be back racing again, and I'm stoked about my result. I'm not 100% fit yet after the crash in Austria so I wasn't sure how I would go on such a long and physical course, but I maintained fitness over the last two weeks and just took care in the sections where the trees were close to my left shoulder. To get 8th is great and I know that by next week in Brazil I'll be even stronger."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"An excellent weekend! Both riders met their strategy targets and I'm really happy to have Matti racing again, and now he's back in the top 10 overall. We knew Fabien would be strong here, and we considered that scenario from a point scoring viewpoint. In the end it was not worth risking a crash chasing a victory when solid points were on offer. To extend the overall lead to 260 points gives us a comfortable margin with half the season done, but it's still a long way to go."

UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup 2005
Round 04: Canada


1 Fabien Barel (Kona Les Gets)
2 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
3 Marc Beaumont (MBUK Santa Cruz)
4 Mickael Pascal (Maxxis-MSC)
5 Chris Kovarik (Intense Bicycles)
6 Justin Leov (Fox Shox Racing)
7 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
8 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
9 Bryn Atkinson (Team GT Hyundai)
10 Justin Havukainen (Iron Horse Mad Catz)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

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