Champion: Maritzburg’s Minnaar is on top of the world

2008-09-16 00:00

Pietermaritzburg mountain bike racer Greg Minnaar has been crowned overall Downhill World Cup champion for the third time.

Minnaar took the World Cup champion title in 2001 and 2005 and this year he again proved his dominance in this elite men’s downhill series, winning three of the seven events on the circuit before placing fifth in the weekend Nissan UCI World Cup Series finale in Schladming, Austria, to clinch the title.

Minnaar, riding for Santa Cruz Syndicate, went into the season finale as the leader, 116 points ahead of Sam Hill and needing to finish in the top five to seal the title.

“All week there was obviously a lot of pressure as I was so close to winning the overall. Sam and I both had a lot of pressure on both of us and I think it affected both our riding.”

Minnaar admitted he had been below his best.

“I felt good, but after just a little slip up top, I decided to back things off a bit because I didn’t want to risk a crash or anything else.

“I think from that aspect, it was a pretty bad race … It felt pretty bland and I also didn’t have all the adrenaline pumping from having a good ride … ”

Minnaar first made his mark as downhill racer in select World Cups in 1999 when he was just 17.

In 2001 and 2002 he rode for the powerful Golbal Racing Team and, at the age of 19, he won the overall World Cup points series in the elite downhill. He later joined Team G Cross Honda, staying with them for four years and taking his second World Cup points series overall victory in 2005.

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