MTB > 2006 UCI Round 04: Canada > Race Results
MTBCanadaJune 24, 2006
2006 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 04: Canada

Minnaar Closes In On World Cup Lead

Greg Minnaar of Team G Cross Honda finished in 2nd place at Round 4 of the UCI World Cup Downhill Series at the famous race venue of Mont-Sainte-Anne, Canada, which was hosting its 15th World Cup race since 1991. Greg qualified fastest in the semi final and with the points collected has closed the gap to series leader Steve Peat (GBR) down from 132 points to just 40 points, with two races to go. Team mate Matti Lehikoinen also had another strong weekend finishing 6th, equalling his career best result, and now moves up into the top 10 overall in the series.

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

The course in Mont-Sainte-Anne is the longest on the world circuit, at 3200m and nearly 5 minutes in length. It has a lot of high speed sections where the riders are racing in brilliant sunshine, and then it frequently turns into the woods where the shadows are dark and the race lines very technical, making it very hard for the riders to see. Walking the course each day was a key the Greg and Matti's strong showings this weekend. Earlier in the week, the training sessions were visited by frequent rain showers, but by race day the sky was clear and blue, and the course was drying out by the hour. In fact, from semi final to final, the course had improved by around 10 seconds.

The semi final tactic was to once again have Greg gain as many points as possible on Steve Peat, and for Matti to put in a solid run, something for him to build on for the final. Greg rode a perfect semi final setting the fastest time by more than two seconds. Steve Peat crashed and came in 13th, scoring just 8 points to Greg's 50. This brought the World Cup lead down to just 90 points going into the afternoon final. Matti finished a solid 7th in the semi final, scoring points, and was within reach of the top 5.

In the final Greg was the last rider to start after winning the semi final, and Steve Peat had already posted his time of 4m 46.86secs and was sitting in the leader's hot seat. Steadily, though, other riders started to beat Steve's time. Matti came close with his 4m 47.59secs, then Sam Hill moved into the lead, but it was eventual race winner, Chris Kovarik (AUS) that took the lead with four riders to come, and there he stayed. Kovarik last won here in 2001. Greg's split time was 2.18secs off Kovarik's split time and it looked unlikely that he would take his run to the podium, but in the bottom half of the course Greg was nearly 2 seconds faster than Kovarik and finished 2nd, only 0.3secs off the win.

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

#1 Greg Minnaar (2nd Place)
"I'm pretty angry with my final run because I ran wide in the top half of the course and nearly went outside the tape. I just hit this rock and it set me off line and I was lucky not to go outside the (course marking) pole, but I lost all my momentum as I tried to get back on course. I guess that's where I lost the 2 seconds to Chris up top. I've finished 2nd here 4 times now, a win would have been sweeter, but I'm happy to have closed the gap on the World Cup lead. It's only 40 points now so that's going to make things pretty interesting."

#11 Matti Lehikoinen (6th Place)
"Only 7/10ths from the podium! I'm kind of frustrated by how close this is getting. I really worked hard for the result this week, walked the course a lot, studied lines, did everything right, and it was only 0.7 on a 5 minute course. I figured out that this is my 30th World Cup race in my career, so it would have been sweet to get on the podium for me and Honda this week, but maybe next week. I had a great run and I'm happy about that. No mistakes, I hit all my lines and the bike worked perfectly as always. I moved into the top 10 overall too which was the other main goal for this week so I'm pretty happy about that."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"Good solid results today. Greg was unlucky to run off course, but that's racing when things are at the limit. The main thing is that we're still in the chase for the overall. We go to Brazil next week to a course that Greg won on last year, and that his main two rivals have never seen. Both Steve and Sam were injured last year before Brazil, so I guess we've got that small psychological advantage. It's not a lot, but neither is 40 points, that's the difference between 1st and 2nd, and it all counts from here on in."

2006 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 04: Canada

Semi Final Results:
1 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
2 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
3 Marc Beaumont (Team MBUK Santa Cruz)
4 Gee Atherton (Team Animal/Giant)
5 Chris Kovarik (MS Intense Factory Racing)
7 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
Final Results:
1 Chris Kovarik (MS Intense Factory Racing)
2 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
3 Sam Hill (Iron Horse Mad Catz)
4 Marc Beaumont (Team MBUK Santa Cruz)
5 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
6 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
7 Cedric Gracia (Team Commencal)
8 Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
9 Gee Atherton (Team Animal/Giant)
10 Julien Camellini (France)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Related Links

· MTB - UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
· Canada

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