MTB > UCI 2005 Round 06: U.S.A. > Race Results
MTBU.S.A.July 9, 2005
UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup 2005 Round 06: U.S.A.

Greg Minnaar 2005 World Cup Champion!

With 2 races still remaining in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Greg Minnaar (RSA) of Team G Cross Honda has already wrapped up the series with a thrilling victory here in Angel Fire, New Mexico (USA), which is his 3rd World Cup race win of the season. In the closest finish to date, where the result has gone in Greg's favor, he won by 0.22 seconds ahead of the much-fancied Jared Graves (AUS) of Yeti Racing who is notoriously quick on the high altitude dusty US courses.



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


Greg's victory today gave him more than 500 points in the margin to 2nd place overall, meaning that his lead is insurmountable, no matter how the next 2 World Cup rounds turn out. It also helped to create history for Honda who in their first attempt to win the World Cup title, have done so in convincing fashion. Greg's win also makes him the 3rd most successful World Cup downhill racer of all time behind Nicolas Vouilloz and Steve Peat.

Greg's team mate, Matti Lehikoinen (FIN), showed he is well and truly on the way back from injury with a strong 5th place in the semi final, and a 13th in the final (just 1 second out of the top 10), raising his overall ranking back up to 10th.

The course was super tough for one main reason, high altitude. Starting at 2,930m (9,600 feet) it is easily the highest race of the year. This came straight after Brazil where the race literally finished at sea level. Furthermore, it was a long course at 4 min 30s made up of open road sections of extended pedalling and four forest sections with some difficult rock sections to negotiate.

Timed training went well for Greg who with a stop on course still managed 4th fastest. Unfortunately for Matti a heavy crash after hooking his pedal on a course marker left him in the medical room for x-rays on his elbow, which thankfully was not broken. However, with his shoulder still in recovery, a damaged elbow ligament on the same left arm, and a heavy cold, it was doubtful as to whether he would start in the semi final today. Ultimately he decided to take the start.

In the semi final Greg went for a solid run but didn't pedal a lot of the open road sections, in order to save energy for the final. His nearest rival in overall points, Nathan Rennie (AUS) of Santa Cruz Syndicate had unfortunately injured his ankle in training and due to this injury finished lower than normal in the semi final giving Greg 32 more points to his lead, and only needing 71 points in the final to take World Cup title. The semi final however went to Jared Graves who was 2.29secs quicker than Greg in 2nd, and Matti finished a very solid 5th place at 4.4 seconds behind Greg.

In the final it was Greg that was the first to beat the long-standing time of Chris Kovarik (AUS), which he did by nearly 5 whole seconds. This meant that only Jared Graves, who had recently beaten Greg in the opening round of the NORBA series, was yet to come. The crowd roared in amazement as Jared's interval time went up on the scoreboard - 0.49 seconds quicker than Greg. With just the lower section of the course to go, the excitement grew as Jared came into view and was clearly running a time very close to Greg. After crossing the line and the dust settled, Jared was only 0.22 seconds off, but this was enough to give Greg the win for the day and the overall title.



Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


#9 Greg Minnaar (1st Place)
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, I can't believe it. I knew there was a chance of taking the overall today but I didn't want to have that distract me, so I just focused on trying to get the best points possible by having a strong result. In the top section of the final I wasn't as quick as would have liked so I really hammered down the bottom to make up the time. I just want to thank the team, management, mechanics, Showa, Alpinestars and Formula Brakes, and all the support from Honda in Japan. It's truly a team effort that ensures my bike is reliable every race, week in week out."

#11 Matti Lehikoinen (13th Place)
"I'm a bit angry at myself for the final because I know I was capable of getting top 10 this week, even though I'm not 100% fitness wise. But I'm happy to be back in the top 10 in the overall, but more importantly I'm just stoked for Greg, he so deserves this. I don't think people understand how hard he works at this, he really inspires me. So now I look forward to some NORBA and Maxxis Cup racing, and getting back to 100% for the next World Cup in August."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"Extraordinary performance by Greg today. This is a great result for the team and all of our loyal sponsors who have believed in Team G Cross Honda and our riders from the start. We are truly appreciative to have the World Cup title safely in our hands, and we look forward to more racing in Europe later in the year where I know both riders will be ready to take on their next challenges."


UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup 2005
Round 06: U.S.A.


line

1 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
2 Jared Graves (Team Yeti)
3 Chris Kovarik (Intense Cycles)
4 Cedric Gracia (Siemens Cannondale)
5 Justin Leov (Fox Racing Shox)
6 Marc Beaumont (MBUK Santa Cruz)
7 Andrew Neethling (Turner Honda)
8 Mick Hannah (Haro Bicycles)
9 John Kirckaldie (Team Maxxis)
10 Gee Atherton (Animal Giant)
13 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

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