MTB > 2007 UCI Round 04: Austria > Race Results
MTBAustriaJuly 8, 2007
2007 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 04: Austria

Minnaar 3rd, Lehikoinen 4th at World Cup #4

All three Team G Cross Honda riders placed top 10 at World Cup Downhill #4, on the dramatic 4 minute course in Schladming, Austria. Previous winners at this steep and challenging race course, Sam Hill (2006, 2005) and Gee Atherton (2004), proved to be the riders to beat as the week's training and racing came to a head on Sunday afternoon.

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)

Timed training had Sam Hill with the fastest time, by about 4 seconds ahead of Greg, but unlike the last 2 years, several riders in the paddock felt they had what it took to give Sam something to worry about. Most notably Gee Atherton who has been a little absent from Downhill podiums this year, who put in a fine semi final run. The Team G Cross Honda riders had excellent training, though Matti had a huge scare on Saturday when he was catapulted 15 meters down the track, over his handlebars as his pedal hooked up on a tree stump in a high speed section. Apart from some cuts, his Alpinestars body armour, and quick reactions on Matti's part, saved him from any serious injury.

In the semi final, Matti did best of the team finishing 4th, with Greg four tenths behind in 5th. Brendan had a crash in the forest taking skin off his left shoulder and cruised into the finish, but still recorded an encouraging 9th place. Gee Atherton was only 0.68 off Sam Hill, and all Team G Cross riders knew they could make up significant time. Greg and Matti knew they could chase extra seconds in the lower half of the track, and Brendan just needed a clean run to move his ranking higher.

The finals were dramatic with Steve Peat coming down a little earlier than normal due to having a crash in his semi final run. His time of 3m 57.81secs kept him in the hot seat for quite some time, as dark clouds loomed over the nearby mountain range, and temperatures began to drop. Brendan had a strong run with few errors, and pushing himself and his RN01 to the edge on most of the technical course. He crossed the line in 2nd place and congratulated mentor Steve Peat on his run, which was just 3/10ths quicker. Next up Greg Minnaar had a confidence boosting run as his shoulder stayed in place and he crossed the line to take the lead from Steve Peat. Next up was Matti who at the interval split was only 0.13 off Greg's time, and was threatening for the win. In the end Matti finished just 0.05 secs off Greg's time.

At this point, Team G Cross Honda had riders in 1st, 2nd and 5th place, with the two favourites to come. Gee's ride was clean, with a few mistakes towards the end of the tiring course. His final time just beat Greg by 4/10ths. As expected, Sam Hill put in an amazing run on the Schladming course and basically took the race to another level, winning by more than 5 seconds, on a track he has made his own.

Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)

Brendan Fairclough (Team G Cross Honda)

Greg Minnaar (3rd Place)
"I'm happy with today's result. I was 3rd here last year and I guess this is consistent. I was struggling a little bit earlier in the week trying to find a good rhythm on this track. After my semi I knew I had to move outside of my control zone and take a few more chances. I hate to say it though, I always think about my shoulder before the start, especially after what happened 2 weeks back in Canada, but I just had to give it my best shot. Gee only just got me, but Sam was pretty impressive today. He deserves to be in the black jersey right now."

Matti Lehikoinen (4th Place)
"I made a bit of mistake in one of the forest sections where I didn't set up properly for a tight corner, I just slammed into it, and lost time in the next section because of that. But it wasn't a big deal but it could have cost me 3rd place today. 4th in the semi's, 4th in the final, 4th in Canada. I guess I'd call that consistent. My main goal this week was to try and get closer to 2nd overall in the World Cup, which I have, and to keep the riders behind me in the points from getting too close. I think Sam has a good lead now, but the chase for 2nd is really open. I'm happy to be getting more and more podium results these days, and I know this will help me a lot with my confidence going into the World Champs and World Cup finals."

Brendan Fairclough (7th Place)

"I have to be happy with that. To be honest, I was hoping for more, but this week is the first race where my hand has felt close to normal. I made a mistake in my semi and then cruised to the line, but then when I saw how close I was with that lame effort, I realized that I had a real shot at top 5. I gave it everything in the final, but the margins were so close. Just 0.35secs would have put me up there with Greg and Matti on the podium, but at least I know I'm coming good from my injury, at the right end of the year."

Team Director Martin Whiteley
"Strong performances from all three riders today. Good to have Brendan in the top ten and to have Matti and Greg conserve their position in the overall, as well as have the team extend its lead in the championship. We have a few things we need to look at to Greg some more speed before Fort William, and Matti has a good training program to get his performances even stronger, so I'm really looking forward to the next two major events, which will suit us even more than here."

2007 UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup Round 04: Austria

Semi Final Results
1 Sam Hill (Iron Horse/Monster Energy)
2 Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal)
3 Fabien Barel (Kona Les Gets)
4 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
5 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
9 Brendan Fairclough (Team G Cross Honda)
Final Results
1 Sam Hill (Iron Horse/Monster Energy)
2 Gee Atherton (Animal Commencal)
3 Greg Minnaar (Team G Cross Honda)
4 Matti Lehikoinen (Team G Cross Honda)
5 Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
6 David Vazquez (MSC Bikes)
7 Brendan Fairclough (Team G Cross Honda)

Team G-Cross Honda Team Prize

Related Links

· MTB - UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup
· Austria

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