MTB > 2007 UCI Round 01: Spain > Race Results
MTBSpainMay 13, 2007
2007 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 01: Spain

Minnaar Finishes 3rd at World Cup 1

The UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup once again chose the north eastern Spanish city of Vigo to start the new international race season, which this year will be made up of only 5 rounds. Once again the two and a half minute track in Vigo proved to be tough, despite the elimination of the section that claimed Greg Minnaar in 2006. This time, however, it was a complicated weather pattern that swept across Vigo which made race tactics, tyre choice and the start order all very key in determining the race results.



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)


Despite rain hitting the area overnight and a light drizzle in the morning, fans streamed into the venue from as early as 7am to see the qualified riders hit the course for their final training sessions. The semi final took place yesterday and saw Greg Minnaar in a very comfortable 3rd place scooping up some much needed points for the title chase. Matti had a bizarre situation where a small black fly got into his eye moments before his scheduled start, and shortly after starting his run he couldn't see out of his right eye. This made judging distances accurately a near impossibility and he lost valuable time, finishing in 27th. Brendan Fairclough had been battling a severe injury to his hand from a training accident 3 weeks ago. The damaged ligament where his wrist joins his palm caused a lot of discomfort this week, and it was considered unlikely he would start. After modifications to his handle bar grip and a good deal of attention from physio Martin Newhill, Brendan managed to get down the course, with only two practice runs from the day before, in a credible 67th.

Sunday, however, was the day it all mattered. Soon after the final started, ominous rain clouds began to fold over the horizon and head towards the race venue. World no.5 Marc Beaumont, who'd crashed in qualifying and scraped into the top 80, was one of the first down and did so on a perfect track. His time of 2m 37.21secs remained unchallenged for the rest of the day. The rain was only light at first and the track held up, but as soon as Brendan took to the start house, it began pouring down, and then hailing. Incredibly Brendan was only a few seconds slower than his qualifying run in the dry, and managed to climb to a very solid 37th place, and at the intermediate mark (65% into the race), his time was 10th fastest. Matti was less fortunate and rode in a complete downpour with very limited vision. His time was the 2nd fastest of any rider in the wet and 4th fastest when he crossed the line. It was good enough to hold on for 11th place, a brilliant effort in terrible conditions.

As the race moved into the final 15 riders, the sun came out and the sandy track surface began to dry out. Times started to get faster, and the racing between the top 5 men in the world was at its best. A very impressive ride by David Vazquez, a 4 time winner of World Cup races (2 wins in the wet) placed him in 2nd place behind Beaumont, and Greg Minnaar crossed the line to record a time faster than his two main rivals, Steve Peat and Sam Hill, to take yet another podium result for Team G cross Honda, his 15th from 19 starts.



Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)


Brendan Fairclough (Team G Cross Honda)


#27 Greg Minnaar (3rd Place)
"That's a much better way to start the season. Last year's crash is now a long forgotten memory. With only 5 races this year I really needed a solid start and to be up with the main guys going into round 2 is perfect. I made a small mistake at the top but it was so hard to know exactly how the course was playing out after the rain and hail. In the end we made the perfect tyre choice, Maxxis Hi Rollers, and I had all the grip I needed. It's a pity for the fans though that the race was decided 5 minutes into it. The UCI needs to change the rule that we've been asking for, that all the top guys must go last...it's better racing for everyone, but congratulations to Marc, he was the next guy due to win a race."

#6 Matti Lehikoinen (11th Place)
"I had the perfect preparation for this race but two pieces of bad luck just messed with my results today. Failing to earn points yesterday in qualifying because of a bug under my eyelid! Then today I pretty much surfed my Honda to the finish line. There were rivers running through the main race lines and that made it hard, even when I could see where I was going. 11th gave me some solid points, and the team for the team ranking, so it's a better start than last year and I'm looking forward to Switzerland, my kind of course!"

#22 Brendan Fairclough (37th Place)
"On Saturday morning I really didn't think I was able to start at all, but the team and the physio did an amazing job of helping me get to the line and be able to score some important points. I'm going to take the next month off from racing and get my hand some further treatment so hopefully I'll be good to go for the middle three World Cups of the season. I was pretty gutted after training on Friday, this is not how I wanted to start my season, but I feel better having got some points on the board."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"The weather lottery made for a very tough day. It was a very impressive performance by Greg in stressful conditions. This is exactly our target for this week, a solid podium, and now he can look forward to a very competitive season with his main rivals. Matti's ride in the rain was super impressive. It's just a pity that his luck wasn't there as he really is in the best shape of his career. Brendan did well today, his 10th at the intermediate shows he has the race skill despite his injury but the 2nd half of the race showed he is suffering from not being in his usual form. This upcoming break in competition will help him recovery for the later races of the season. Overall, a much better start to the season than 2006."


2007 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 01: Spain

line
Semi Final Results
1 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
2 David Vazquez (MSC Bikes)
3 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
4 Mick Hannah (Cannondale/The Cut)
5 Dan Atherton (Animal Commencal)
27 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
67 Brendan Fairclough (Team G Cross Honda)
 
Final Results
1 Marc Beaumont (Team MBUK Santa Cruz)
2 David Vazquez (MSC Bikes)
3 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
4 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
5 Sam Hill (Iron Horse/Monster Energy)
11 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
37 Brendan Fairclough (Team G Cross Honda)



Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

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