Minnaar puts on good show for third place

2014-04-14 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S favourite son Greg Minnaar, who has just recovered from knee surgery, nearly repeated his heroics from last year’s UCI MTB World Cup on Saturday, held in his backyard.

The world champion, back in his hometown for the first time since that win in September, could not beat speedy American Aaron Gwin and Australian Mick Hannah, despite going through the first two sections at a blistering pace.

With the crowd going crazy, Minnaar, who rode down the hill third last, could not dislodge Hannah off the hot seat after the flying Aussie, who had qualified outside of the top 20, set the fastest time of the day, before Gwin’s ride.

Minnaar, who has not spent a lot of time on a bike lately, said he was happy with the third place finish.

“I was really nervous up top,” he said. “I wasn’t super comfortable riding all the technical stuff. I haven’t had a lot of time on my bike since my surgery so I just tried to suss things out beforehand and then relax as much as I could before my run.

“I had a really good run up top and I survived, but given the condition I’m in and a lack of time on the bike, I’m really happy with my third place.”

Gwin, a former world champion, was happy to win the first leg of the UCI MTB World Cup, “I’m just happy, really stoked,” he said.

“The race was great this year. The track was good, the fans, as always, were great. I love racing here.”

Manon Carpenter was the first woman home, beating world champion Rachel Atherton by almost four seconds.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season because I was really stressed coming into this race so I am really glad I managed to pull it off,” Carpenter said.

“I was feeling good after practice yesterday and then it got really loose at the top. Bits were getting blown out so I was nervous. I didn’t want that in my run and I’m glad I got a smooth ride in.”

Luca Shaw won the junior men’s ride.

Elite men: 1. Aaron Gwin 3:59.344

2. Mick Hannah 4:01.381

3. Greg Minnaar 4:02.168

4. Loic Bruni 4:02.237

5. Troy Brosnan 4:02.675

Elite women: 1. Manon Carpenter 4:34.923

2. Rachel Atherton 4:38.831

3. Jill Kintner 4:44.041

4. Myriam Nicole 4:44.651

5. Emmeline Ragot 4:44.662

Junior Men: 1.Luca Shaw 4:15.267

2.Loris Vergier 4:17.257

3.Amaury Pierron 4:23.668

4.Aiden Varley 4:27.376

5.Benjamin Boutie 4:29.731.

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