Gwin gives USA first downhill win in years

Minnaar races to second at home ahead of Atherton

The first round of the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup concluded in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on Easter Sunday with the crowd favourite downhill. While local favourite Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) was not able to repeat his victory of two seasons ago in the men's race, the thousands of fans were treated to exciting racing, with the men's title won by less than three-tenths of a second. Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) brought home the first US downhill World Cup victory in years. Minnaar's ride was good enough for second ahead of Gee Atherton (Commencal) in third.

In the 82-rider men's field, it was four time cross World Cup winner Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox), who set the first fast time of 4:17.183. Graves stayed in the hot seat through 15 riders before the New Zealand champion Cameron Cole (Lapierre International) was able to edge him out. Cole had a much shorter time in the lead, as Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) knocked nearly two seconds off the top time only three riders later. Peat was uncharacteristically seeded low, since he has been fighting the effects of a flu which sapped his power all week.

Peat withstood the challenges of a number of top names, as the start list counted down: Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre International), Marc Beaumont (Team GT), Justin Leov (Trek World Racing), Steve Smith (Devinci), Andrew Neethling (Giant) and world champion Sam Hill (Monster Energy/Specialized/Mad Catz).

Peat's time in the hot seat lasted until American Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) knocked a staggering seven seconds off the best time.

Defending World Cup champion Gee Atherton (Commencal) could only manage a time within two seconds of Gwin, which was good enough for third, and Minnaar, with the entire crowd cheering him down the course, came oh-so-close, but was 0.241 seconds in arrears. When the fastest qualifier, Mick Hannah (Team GT) crashed hard after bolts broke in his handlebar stem, Gwin knew that he had his first World Cup victory.

With his win, Gwin became the first American man to win a World Cup since 1999 (Shaun Palmer was the last at Big Bear). Gwin revealed that he has been training with the legendary John Tomac, and it appears to have paid off.

"Honestly, coming into this weekend, I didn't think I could do it," said Gwin. "The track was just clicking, and I felt really good all weekend, and it just came down to the pedalling."

"I thought that if I could just go hard at the top and the bottom I was probably fit enough to hold onto it in the middle, and it worked out," said Gwin. "I was surprised at the gap when I came down. It was a pretty loose run, but it was everything I had. It was on the edge, I hit a tree at the top, but I just tried to keep myself calm and hold it together, but there were some sketchy moments. I'm stoked, I'm just speechless."

Fabian Barel (Mondraker Factory Team) earned the fourth podium spot ahead of Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) in fifth.

Junior downhill world champion Troy Brosnan (Monster Energy/Specialized/Mad Catz) of Australia won the junior men's race.  He clocked the 23rd fastest time among the elites.

Full Results (* indicates junior riders)

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing0:04:08.634 
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:00.241 
3Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal0:00:01.921 
4Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:04.246 
5Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:06.809 
6Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing0:00:06.934 
7Marc Beaumont (GBr)0:00:07.237 
8Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:07.399 
9Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 110:00:07.965 
10Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:08.281 
11Bryn Atkinson (Aus)0:00:08.371 
12Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International0:00:08.502 
13Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:08.549 
14Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:09.022 
15Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof0:00:09.132 
16Cédric Gracia (Fra) CG Racing Brigade0:00:09.809 
17Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride0:00:10.167 
18Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek0:00:10.609 
19Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:10.852 
20Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal0:00:10.853 
21Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International0:00:10.995 
22Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:11.049 
23Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:11.354 
24Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:11.376 
25Romain Paulhan (Fra)0:00:11.420 
26Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Evil Racing0:00:11.425 
27Brook Macdonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing0:00:11.806 
28Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:11.943 
29Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:12.232 
30Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing0:00:12.810 
31Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:12.916 
32Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc/Solid/Massif Des Vosges0:00:13.071 
33Florent Payet (Fra) SC-Intense0:00:13.667 
34Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:13.730 
35Bernard Kerr (GBr) Wallner Robin0:00:14.082 
36Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W-Racing0:00:14.096 
37Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain0:00:14.968 
38Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof0:00:15.158 
39Mitchell Delfs (Aus)0:00:15.377 
40Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride0:00:15.627 
41Ben Cathro (GBr) Spagnolo Damien0:00:15.696 
42Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:15.839 
43Richard Thomas (GBr)0:00:15.982 
44Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:16.017 
45Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride0:00:16.056 
46Joshua Button (Aus) SC-Intense0:00:16.294 
47Mitch Ropelato (USA)0:00:16.595 
48Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing0:00:16.903 
49Alex Bond (GBr)0:00:17.425 
50Marcel Beer (Swi)0:00:17.435 
51Emanuel Pombo (Por)0:00:17.934 
52Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team0:00:18.289 
53Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 110:00:18.405 
54Jonty Neethling (RSA)0:00:19.692 
55Johann Potgieter (RSA)0:00:20.534 
56Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)0:00:20.677 
57Curtis Keene (USA)0:00:21.430 
58Hayden Brown (RSA)0:00:22.359 
59Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:22.654 
60Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:22.688 
61Scott Mears (GBr)0:00:23.147 
62Thomas Jeandin (Swi)0:00:24.451 
63Lars Peyer (Swi) SC-Intense0:00:24.831 
64Fraser Mcglone* (GBr)0:00:26.043 
65Daniel Pombo (Por)0:00:26.995 
66Kelvin Purchase (RSA)0:00:28.688 
67Chris Hutchens (GBr)0:00:28.900 
68Tiaan Odendaal* (RSA)0:00:29.700 
69Fergus Lamb (GBr)0:00:30.123 
70Francesco Petrucci (Ita)0:00:30.558 
71Roman Roschi (Swi)0:00:30.867 
72Oscar Harnstrom (Swe)0:00:31.068 
73Arthur Parret* (Fra) Passion Velo Thiers Stemtee0:00:32.375 
74Jérôme Payet (Fra)0:00:35.547 
75Charly Di Pasquale (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:40.691 
76Mathias Haas (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria0:00:45.282 
77Daniel Critchlow (GBr)0:00:45.525 
78Travis Browning (RSA)0:03:06.284 
DNFGeorge Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing  
DNFMichael Hannah (Aus)  
DNSBrendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz  
DNSAlexander Kangas (Swe)  

World Cup standings

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing218 pts
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate200 
3Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal162 
4Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team145 
5Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate110 
6Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing104 
7Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz102 
8Nick Beer (Swi) SCott 1194 
9Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre92 
10Marc Beaumont (GBr)90 
11Cédric Gracia (Fra) CG Racing Brigade90 
12Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate86 
13Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team83 
14Bryn Atkinson (Aus)80 
15Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride76 
16Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team70 
17Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International69 
18Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal69 
19Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team68 
20Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof66 
21Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek63 
22Markus Pekoll (Aut) Ms Evil Racing62 
23Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International60 
24Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team59 
25Brook Macdonald (NZl) Ms Evil Racing59 
26Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing59 
27Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz58 
28Romain Paulhan (Fra)56 
29Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing52 
30Filip Polc (Svk) Ms Evil Racing51 
31Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team50 
32Michael Hannah (Aus)50 
33Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc/Solid/Massif Des Vosges49 
34Florent Payet (Fra) SC-Intense48 
35Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre47 
36Bernard Kerr (GBr)46 
37Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W-Racing45 
38Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain44 
39Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof43 
40Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona42 
41Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride41 
42Ben Cathro (GBr)40 
43Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team39 
44Richard Thomas (GBr)38 
45Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team37 
46Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride36 
47Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team36 
48Joshua Button (Aus) SC-Intense35 
49Mitch Ropelato (USA)34 
50Luke Strobel (USA) Ms Evil Racing33 
51Alex Bond (GBr)32 
52Marcel Beer (Swi)31 
53Emanuel Pombo (Por)30 
54Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team29 
55Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) SCott 1128 
56Jonty Neethling (RSA)27 
57Johann Potgieter (RSA)26 
58Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)25 
59Curtis Keene (USA)24 
60Hayden Brown (RSA)23 
61Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team22 
62Scott Mears (GBr)20 
63Thomas Jeandin (Swi)19 
64Lars Peyer (Swi) SC-Intense18 
65Fraser Mcglone* (GBr)17 
66Daniel Pombo (Por)16 
67Kelvin Purchase (RSA)15 
68Chris Hutchens (GBr)14 
69Tiaan Odendaal* (RSA)13 
70Fergus Lamb (GBr)12 
71Francesco Petrucci (Ita) Team Cingolani Trek11 
72Roman Roschi (Swi)10 
73Oscar Harnstrom (Swe)9 
74Arthur Parret* (Fra) Passion Velo Thiers Stemtee8 
75Jérôme Payet (Fra)7 
76Charly Di Pasquale (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team6 
77Mathias Haas (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria5 
78Daniel Critchlow (GBr)4 
79Travis Browning (RSA)3 
Downhill team World Cup standings after one round
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Santa Cruz Syndicate84 pts
2Trek World Racing83 
3Team GR65 
4Scott 1162 
5Mondraker Factory Team37 
6Commencal32 
7Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz31 
8Lapierre International29 
9Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain26 
10Devinci Global Racing26 
11Giant Factory Off-Road Team26 
12Team Morzine-Avoriaz/Haute-Savoie20 
13Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team18 
14Madison Saracen16 
15Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof16 
16Cg Racing Brigade15 
17Morewood Unitedride14 
18Team Cingolani Trek13 
19Alpine Commencal Austria12 
20Team Sunn Montgenevre12 
21Riding Addiction Commencal11 
22MS Evil Racing10 
23SC-Intense6 

 

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