MTB > 2006 UCI Round 01: Spain > Race Results
MTBSpainMay 7, 2006
2006 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 01: Spain

Major Crash For Minnaar Ends Hopes at World Cup 1

The UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup once again chose the north eastern Spanish city of Vigo to kick off the new international race season, and once again the two and a half minute trail (slightly shorter this year) took its toll on the world's best downhill racers and provided some unexpected results. 2005 World Cup Champion Greg Minnaar (RSA) crashed heavily in the final and was lucky to escape serious injury after a small tree stump caught his front wheel in a high-speed section of the course. Team mate Matti Lehikoinen (FIN) finished 16th after battling to find speed on the course all week.



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


As was the case last year, an estimated 15 to 20,000 spectators took to the hills to watch the action, which was spread over two days due to live TV schedule requirements, which had the semi final on Saturday and the final on, Sunday. Strangely, a timed training session was held in the morning, before the final, but none of the riders took advantage of this to any degree as their times were already well known due to the semi final on Saturday and there was no need taking on any added risk before the final.

In the semi final, Greg took to the course first as the reigning World Cup champion, and crossed the line with a time of 2m 28.951secs but he was a little disappointed knowing that there were a few areas where extra time could have been found. Matti also had difficulty getting the speed needed but both improved on their timed runs recorded by the team staff earlier in the day. Greg finished 7th and Matti's time of 2m 34.516secs had him finishing 21st.

The day saw dry conditions for the men's final after a brief shower just 1 hour before the race. Times recorded by the riders earlier in the start list showed that the course was running just as fast as in the semi final, and it was clear that the win would probably need to be around 2m 23secs or better. Both Team G Cross Honda riders took to the top of the hill with the clear objective of improving on their semi final times and starting the season well.

Matti rode his fastest time of the week on the course and ended in position 16th. His time of 2m 30.796secs was an improvement of nearly 4 seconds on his semi final. For Greg, it was to be his first major crash in a World Cup final in 4 years that was to take him out of contention for the day. Coming into a fast chicane in the top half of the course, where he needed to flick the bike from right to left at high speed, his front wheel seemed to hook up on a tree stump as he turned from left to right, and at high speed he flew over the handlebars landing on his head. His left wrist took some of the impact away from his head and neck, and he rolled down the track. Quickly getting to his feet and remounting his Honda RN01 to find only the seat nose broken, he continued on to finish 19th. His time for the 2nd half of the course was equal to that of 3rd place finisher Steve Peat.



Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


#1 Greg Minnaar (19th Place)
"I'm incredibly disappointed by this crash. I felt really fast at the top and I was really on the limit. In this section where I crashed, I'd really got it dialled during practice. I'd seen the tree stump there before but in the final I must have just clipped it after running a little wide due to the speed I was carrying from the previous section. I was really nervous carrying the number 1 plate at the start of the new season and meeting so many expectations, not the least of which were from myself. I feel pretty disappointed not to have a achieved a strong result to build upon, and not to have backed up all the great work down by the team to get us so competitive this week."

#11 Matti Lehikoinen (7th Place)

"I'm having trouble finding the confidence I need at this level of racing after missing a lot of pre-season downhill training time on the bike, due to my compulsory military service. I was able to keep my physical fitness during winter, and that was not the concern today, it was the high speed technical sections where I was not really as comfortable as I was last year. I got faster each run and I think that this will improve a lot over the next weeks. In my final run today I hit all my lines well and made no real errors, I was just lacking a little speed. At one section of the course I nearly went off course because a spectator had something that made a fake chainsaw sound that I thought was a real chainsaw! I was scared and nearly crashed!"

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"We're lucky to have both riders in one piece after so many other injuries to other top riders, and especially after Greg's horrific crash which on video is really quite tough to watch as he hit the ground very hard. We timed the video footage from the moment he crashes to the point where he gets back on the bike, and it's 7.7secs, and that's not allowing for the fact that he also took time to get back up to speed. We're confident that without the freak crash, Greg would have had a solid podium result today. Matti improved on every run this week and it won't be long before he has the speed to chase those top ten results he was achieving regularly last year."


2006 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 01: Spain

line
Semi Final Results
1 Mick Hannah (Cannondale)
2 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
3 Fabien Barel (Kona Les Gets)
4 Cedric Gracia (Team Commencal)
5 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
7 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
21 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
 
Final Results
1 Mick Hannah (Cannondale)
2 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
3 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
4 Marc Beaumont Team MBUK Santa Cruz
5 Gee Atherton (Team Animal Giant)
16 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
19 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
 

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