Minnaar delights PMB fans with another win

2013-09-02 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG’S Greg Minnaar is again the world downhill champion.

Pietermaritzburgers came out in their numbers to see local hero Minnaar at the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships, and they were not disappointed.

Minnaar was the third last out of 68 riders to take to the track, and the gathered crowds, who had been desperate to get a glimpse of their hero, cheered when he began his race down the hill.

Minnaar felt the pressure, but posted the fastest time, despite suffering a flat tyre just after the Moneymaker jump.

With Minnaar sitting in the hot seat, and with world number one, Britain’s Gee Atherton on the track, the fans looked up at the screen in anticipation.

They started to cheer again when Atherton was three seconds off the pace at the second split, and rushed to Minnaar after the Brit had just finished his run, placing seventh.

“I felt a lot of pressure,” Minnaar told The Witness when asked what went through his mind when he saw the crowd.

“I didn’t want to disappoint everyone. I didn’t want to let them down. This whole week, my Twitter, Facebook and phone have just been going crazy,” he said.

For the entire week of the world championships, Minnaar did not go to Cascades MTB Park to avoid being told by his enthusiastic fans that the race was in the bag.

“To beat these guys is not easy. It’s a tough job,” he said about his competitors.

Australia’s Mick Hannah, who was in the hot seat when Minnaar crossed the line, won silver, while Jared Graves, also from Down Under, won the bronze medal.

Winning was more of a relief for him, Minnaar said, and it hadn’t yet sunk in that he had defended the title he won in Austria last year.

On the top of his helmet, Minnaar had an image of former president Nelson Mandela and said his race was in his honour.

“When I was planning my helmet, I thought about him. He’s been having a hard time lately and he is someone that means a lot to everyone in South Africa. I was just honouring him by it,” he said.

He also dedicated his win to the late Burry Stander and said: “This is for Burry”.

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