MTB > 2006 UCI Round 06: Austria > Race Results
MTBAustriaSeptember 10, 2006
2006 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 06: Austria

Double Podium For Honda at World Cup Finals

Team G Cross Riders Greg Minnaar (RSA) and Matti Lehikoinen (FIN) took an historic double podium result for the Honda team in Schaldming, Austria, during the UCI World Cup Finals. The result also meant that Greg finished 3rd in the overall rankings for the season, and Matti jumped from 9th to 6th in the overall, to cap off a career best season.

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Training on the demanding 4 minute course requires the riders to work hard at memorizing the 60 plus corners that make up a single race run. A mixture of steep high speed cornering and some very tight and tree root laden sections make Schladming a classic rider's course.

In the official timed training session, both Matti and Greg were happy with their results. Greg was 3rd scoring 4m 04.52secs and Matti not too far behind in 6th with 4m 10.50secs, but both knew the race times would easily go below 4 minutes. Greg though was really struggling with an injury he suffered in France last week at the French Cup finals in La Bresse, where a slower rider on course blocked his path in training, and the resultant collision saw Greg suffer a massive and deep haematoma in his left leg that left him unable to walk for three days. Treatment in Schaldming got him training again but the pain was evident.

Matti on the other hand was dealing with demons, the ghosts of his past major crash here last year. He revisited the site of his crash on a walking inspection and gave the tree that broke his shoulder and good hard look before trying to overcome his reservations during training.

However in the semi final it was clear that Matti was still holding back and not taking all the reasonable risk needed for a top result. The course was still messing with him. His semi final result of 10th was below his potential and after a 30 minute discussion with the Team Director, a new strategy was devised for Matti to conquer the course. Greg's semi final result was exactly where it needed to be and despite a couple of minor errors, most of the run was exactly what Greg expected.

In the final Matti was the first to come down out of the two riders and his excellent intermediate time showed he was well on the way to taking the lead. As he crossed the line the crowd cheered as the Finn took the hotseat and began his wait to see if he would make a 2nd career podium. Rider after rider failed to beat his time, until his team mate Greg Minnaar took to the mountain and was 1.44secs faster at the intermediate. As Greg crossed the line his margin on Matti had reduced to just 0.81secs but it was enough for the lead. Shortly after though, an impressive run by Sam Hill put the Australian at the top where he stayed until the end of the race.

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

#1 Greg Minnaar (3rd Place)
"Overall, considering the bad luck I've had at 2 rounds this season, I'm happy to finish top 3 both in the race and in the overall. At the beginning of this week I actually told the team I didn't think I could race due to the leg injury I suffered last weekend, but thanks to some excellent laser treatment I was able to start, but I really wasn't at my absolute best this week. Sam was always going to be hard to beat here after his amazing ride last year on the same course. I gave it everything and I know that I got the place I deserved."

#11 Matti Lehikoinen (4th Place)
"After my semi final this morning I spent a lot of time analyzing where I could make up time if I could just be smoother in the corners and lighter on the braking. It was a matter of working out where there was a lot of time to be made if I pushed harder and took more risk. In the end I just let go of the brakes more and took control of the bike and the course, and I got a result I know suits the race I rode. I'm really happy to get my 2nd podium of the year and be up there with Greg and the other top guys."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"That was a tough season for us with a mixture of excellent performances and at times some really awful bad luck. I'm very proud to accept the trophy for the number 1 team in the World Cup, our first time for this title, and to see both Matti and Greg on the podium today, another dream of ours fulfilled. We have learned a lot this season and will put this knowledge to good use in the future. A huge thanks to our sponsors who recognise the value of our Honda program, especially Alpinestars, Formula Brakes, Showa, Maxxis, SDG, Motorex, Mavic, SRAM and Sapim."

2006 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 06: Austria

Semi Final Results:
1   Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
2   Sam Hill (Iron Horse Mad Catz)
3   Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
4   Mickael Pascal (Q Bikes)
5   Gee Atherton (Team Animal/Giant)
10   Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
Semi Final Results:
1   Sam Hill (Iron Horse Mad Catz)
2   Nathan Rennie (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
3   Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
4   Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
5   Brendan Fairclough (Team Orange)
6   Mickael Pascal (Q Bikes)
7   Marc Beaumont (Team MBUK Santa Cruz)
8   Gee Atherton (Team Animal/Giant)
9   Chris Kovarik (MS Intense Factory Racing)
10   Fabien Pedemanaud (France)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Related Links

· MTB - UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
· Austria

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