- The professional mountain biking season was made very challenging with lockdown travel regulations – especially on a South African passport
- Despite this, South African riders showed why they are valued
- Greg Minnaar and Alan Hatherly were the standout competitors
In a season unlike any before, South African mountain bikers gave an excellent account of themselves.
With the rescheduled Olympics, World Championships and World Cup series, it has been a testing season, finishing in America, over the weekend. And South Africa’s professional mountain bikers have competed with distinction, delivering some great results.
By far the highlight of this season was Greg Minnaar’s fourth World Championship win. Already the greatest mountain biker of all time, Minnaar showed terrific resolve by overcoming Covid-19 during his off-season training.
Racing at an age where he should be coaching most of his rivals, instead of competing with them, Minnaar showed that he is truly the Roger Federer of mountain biking. Delivering incredible riding performances, in the year he turns 40.
Minnaar’s season ended incongruously with a crash, in preparation for the final UCI World Cup double-header event, in West Virginia. This dropped Minnaar down to 15th overall in the series standings, ranking the 113 best downhill mountain bikers, globally.
Breakout year for Hatherly
The other standout rider was Alan Hatherly. The young cross-country racing specialist gained a significant promotion to the powerful Cannondale pro-team, and returned the confidence in his potential with some great rides.
During the Tokyo Olympics, Hatherly suffered a bad start but recovered for a very credible eight-place finish.
Completing all six rounds of the UCI XCO World Cup, Hatherly managed two podium finishes. His overall ranking was sixth – an excellent achievement considering the pro field being 113 riders strong.
Having only turned 25 this season, Hatherly is still developing as a rider and even greater things are expected from him next year. And Minnaar? He will be back, despite being 40 – proving that age is no limitation for the greater rider of all time.