Gwin back on top with downhill win at Pietermaritzburg World Cup

Hannah and Minnaar round out top three

Former downhill World Cup Aaron Gwin got his 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season underway in perfect fashion when he claimed a thrilling victory in the elite men's downhill final of the Pietermaritzburg leg at Cascades MTB Park on Saturday.

Last down the hill after winning the qualifying round on Friday, the Specialized Racing DH star charged to the top of the leaderboard early on in his run and never looked back as he surged ahead of title hopeful Mick Hannah (Hutchinson UR) and hometown hero Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate).

"I'm just happy, really stoked. It is definitely a team win!" said Gwin."The race was great this year! The track was good, the fans - as always - down here are great! I love racing here!

"We felt good all weekend. From the first practice run I was happy, I like the changes they made to the course and the bike was working, I was working, everything felt good. I knew from the first day that I had a win in me if I could put down my best run but that is a lot easier said than done. Qualifying went well and we just tried to keep the ball rolling.

"I am happy for Mick (Hannah), happy for Troy (Brosnan) and it was an amazing ride for Greg (Minnaar) to get back after his knee and still get on the podium," he said.

Hannah, having suffered a mechanical in qualifying and so started some way down the list in the finals, demolished the previous best time of the day set by South Africa's Andrew Neethling's (Giant Factory Off-road Team) by more than eight seconds to power into the hot seat.

With just Minnaar, Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Gwin left to start their runs, Hannah's nerves were clear for all to see as he looked to go one better than the result he achieved at the same course at the 2013 Worlds.

A charging Minnaar however appeared to have the better of his Australian rival in the first two sectors. A slow final sector by the defending world champ and a top section mishap by Bryceland saw Hannah maintain his position he'd already for for a remarkable 18 riders.

That was until Gwin decided to get in on the act though as the American hero strung together the perfect final run to become the only person to break the four minute mark and, in the process, edge Hannah and Minnaar into second and third respectively.

Minnaar, having won both the 2012 World Cup and 2013 world champs in his own back yard, put in a dream performance given he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the final leg of the 2013 World Cup in Austria late last year and was satisfied with the outcome.

"I was really nervous up top, 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 just relax as much as I could before my run," said Minnaar.

"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 still really happy with my third place!

"The top section hadn't blown up that much but I just couldn't get that stretch right all week. It was really tricky, the rocks are placed really awkwardly and we were hitting our back wheel a lot so I was just super nervous and had a bit of a lack of confidence. I hit it really well in my final though so I was stoked!

"I really had a good final run and I lay it all out on the track. I'm just really thankful for all the people coming out and supporting me again, it's incredible to see all the support," he added.

Lapierre Gravity Republic's charging young star Loic Bruni crossed the line in fourth with and Gwin's Specialized Racing DH's team mate Troy Brosnan fifth with the likes of Gee Atherton, Nick Beer and Josh Bryceland all suffering mishaps or crashes which hampered their performances.

With his win, Gwin became the first World Cup series leader of 2014, resuming where he left off back in 2012.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Specialized Racing DH0:03:59.300 
2Michael Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson UR0:00:02.037 
3Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:02.824 
4Loic Bruni (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic0:00:02.893 
5Troy Brosnan (Aus) Specialized Racing DH0:00:03.331 
6Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre Gravity Republic0:00:04.043 
7Sam Dale (GBr) Madison Saracen Factory Team0:00:06.003 
8Neko Mulally (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:06.361 
9Samuel Hill (Aus) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof0:00:06.851 
10Gee Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing0:00:06.899 
11Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:06.964 
12Cameron Cole (NZl) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:07.867 
13Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Madison Saracen Factory Team0:00:09.133 
14Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Mondraker Team0:00:09.460 
15Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Hutchinson UR0:00:09.848 
16Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:09.924 
17Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:10.896 
18Guillaume Cauvin (Fra) Hutchinson UR0:00:11.021 
19Marc Beaumont (GBr) GT Factory Racing0:00:11.296 
20Rémi Thirion (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:11.563 
21Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Unior Tools Team0:00:11.827 
22George Brannigan (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:11.925 
23Bryn Atkinson (Aus)0:00:12.080 
23Damien Spagnolo (Fra) MS Mondraker Team  
25Connor Fearon (Aus) Kona Factory Team0:00:12.314 
26Lorenzo Suding (Ita)0:00:12.537 
27Patrick Thome (Fra) Gstaad-Scott0:00:12.667 
28Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:13.090 
29Nick Beer (Swi) Devinci Global Racing0:00:13.143 
30Ziga Pandur (Slo) Unior Tools Team0:00:13.632 
31Isak Leivsson (Nor)0:00:13.653 
32Greg Williamson (GBr) Trek World Racing0:00:13.673 
33Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Lac Blanc/Scott0:00:13.984 
34Harry Heath (GBr) Orange Dirt World Team, O'neal0:00:14.450 
35Brook Macdonald (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:14.531 
36Tomas Slavik (Cze)0:00:15.384 
37Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Gstaad-Scott0:00:15.422 
38Faustin Figaret (Fra) Commencal0:00:15.571 
39Florent Payet (Fra) Evil Vengeance Tour0:00:15.586 
40Jack Reading (GBr) SC Intense0:00:15.722 
41Bernard Kerr (GBr) Pivot Factory DH Team0:00:15.872 
42Adam Brayton (GBr)0:00:16.024 
43Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:16.434 
44Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa) Evil Vengeance Tour0:00:16.619 
45Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:16.860 
46Jack Moir (Aus) Bergamont Hayes World Team0:00:16.891 
47Matthew Walker (NZl) Banshee Bikes Factory Team0:00:17.033 
48Timothy Bentley (RSA)0:00:17.048 
49Dean Lucas (Aus) Devinci Global Racing0:00:17.085 
50Wyn Masters (NZl) Team Bulls - DH0:00:17.243 
51Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof0:00:17.490 
52Eliot Jackson (USA) Pivot Factory DH Team0:00:19.337 
53Stefan Garlicki (RSA)0:00:19.943 
54Francisco Pardal (Por)0:00:20.216 
55Tiaan Odendaal (RSA)0:00:20.893 
56Joseph Connell (GBr) SC Intense0:00:21.080 
57Samuel Bull (RSA)0:00:21.981 
58Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Hutchinson UR0:00:22.715 
59Jasper Jauch (Ger)0:00:23.089 
60Matej Charvat (Cze) Banshee Bikes Factory Team0:00:23.169 
61Charly Di Pasquale (Fra)0:00:24.646 
62Mario José Jarrin Molina (Ecu)0:00:25.089 
63Alexandre Fayolle (Fra)0:00:25.249 
64Jonty Neethling (RSA)0:00:25.480 
65Brent Smith (Aus)0:00:26.785 
66Zakarias Blom Johansen (Nor)0:00:26.802 
67Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:30.084 
68Chris Barlin (Aus) Green To Gold Race Development0:00:32.136 
69Mathew Stuttard (GBr)0:00:32.174 
70Jono Jones (GBr)0:00:32.706 
71Josh Lowe (GBr)0:00:32.801 
72Francesco Colombo (Ita) Gravitalia Squadra Corse0:00:32.985 
73Alasdair Fey (RSA)0:00:33.802 
74Kazuki Shimizu (Jpn) Madison Saracen Factory Team0:00:34.373 
75Travis Browning (RSA)0:00:35.772 
76Peter Williams (GBr)0:01:00.511 
77Johannes Fischbach (Ger) Rrp Ghost0:01:16.797 
78Harry Molloy (GBr) Rrp Ghost0:02:11.779 
DNFCyrille Kurtz (Fra) Evil Vengeance Tour  
Teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Madison Saracen Factory Team82 pts
2Lapierre Gravity Republic78 
3Hutchinson UR71 
4Specialized Racing DH68 
5GT Factory Racing68 
6Commencal / Riding Addiction56 
7Santa Cruz Syndicate47 
8Giant Factory Off-Road Team37 
9Trek World Racing32 
10Ms Mondraker Team25 
11Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof22 
12Fmd Racing18 
13Gstaad-Scott18 
14Evil Vengeance Tour16 
15Unior Tools Team11 
16Green To Gold Race Development10 
17Pivot Factory DH Team9 
18Kona Factory Team6 
19Devinci Global Racing2 
Elite men World Cup standings after round 1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Specialized Racing DH250 pts
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate170 
3Michael Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson UR160 
4Loic Bruni (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic150 
5Troy Brosnan (Aus) Specialized Racing DH130 
6Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre Gravity Republic117 
7Sam Dale (GBr) Madison Saracen Factory Team105 
8Neko Mulally (USA) Trek World Racing103 
9Samuel Hill (Aus) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof96 
10Gee Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing85 
11Cameron Cole (NZl) Commencal / Riding Addiction82 
12Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Madison Saracen Factory Team82 
13Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) Giant Factory Off-Road Team79 
14Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Mondraker Team79 
15Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate78 
16Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate73 
17Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Hutchinson UR71 
18Marc Beaumont (GBr) GT Factory Racing69 
19Nick Beer (Swi) Devinci Global Racing69 
20Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team64 
21Guillaume Cauvin (Fra) Hutchinson UR63 
22Rémi Thirion (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction61 
23Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Unior Tools Team60 
24George Brannigan (NZl) Trek World Racing59 
25Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team59 
26Bryn Atkinson (Aus)58 
27Damien Spagnolo (Fra) MS Mondraker Team58 
28Connor Fearon (Aus) Kona Factory Team56 
29Lorenzo Suding (Ita)55 
30Patrick Thome (Fra) Gstaad-Scott54 
31Ziga Pandur (Slo) Unior Tools Team51 
32Isak Leivsson (Nor)50 
33Greg Williamson (GBr) Trek World Racing49 
34Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Lac Blanc/Scott48 
35Harry Heath (GBr) Orange Dirt World Team, O'neal47 
36Brook Macdonald (NZl) Trek World Racing46 
37Tomas Slavik (Cze)45 
38Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Gstaad-Scott44 
39Faustin Figaret (Fra) Commencal43 
40Florent Payet (Fra) Evil Vengeance Tour42 
41Jack Reading (GBr) SC Intense41 
42Bernard Kerr (GBr) Pivot Factory DH Team40 
43Adam Brayton (GBr)39 
44Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa) Evil Vengeance Tour37 
45Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction36 
46Jack Moir (Aus) Bergamont Hayes World Team35 
47Matthew Walker (NZl) Banshee Bikes Factory Team34 
48Timothy Bentley (RSA)33 
49Dean Lucas (Aus) Devinci Global Racing32 
50Wyn Masters (NZl) Team Bulls - DH31 
51Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof30 
52Eliot Jackson (USA) Pivot Factory DH Team29 
53Stefan Garlicki (RSA)28 
54Francisco Pardal (Por)27 
55Tiaan Odendaal (RSA)26 
56Joseph Connell (GBr) SC Intense25 
57Samuel Bull (RSA)24 
58Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Hutchinson UR23 
59Jasper Jauch (Ger)22 
60Matej Charvat (Cze) Banshee Bikes Factory Team21 
61Charly Di Pasquale (Fra)20 
62Mario José Jarrin Molina (Ecu)19 
63Alexandre Fayolle (Fra)18 
64Jonty Neethling (RSA)17 
65Brent Smith (Aus)16 
66Zakarias Blom Johansen (Nor)15 
67Johannes Fischbach (Ger) Rrp Ghost15 
68Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction14 
69Chris Barlin (Aus) Green To Gold Race Development13 
70Mathew Stuttard (GBr)12 
71Jono Jones (GBr)11 
72Josh Lowe (GBr)10 
73Francesco Colombo (Ita) Gravitalia Squadra Corse9 
74Alasdair Fey (RSA)8 
75Kazuki Shimizu (Jpn) Madison Saracen Factory Team7 
76Travis Browning (RSA)6 
77Peter Williams (GBr)5 
78Harry Molloy (GBr) Rrp Ghost3 
Team World Cup standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Madison Saracen Factory Team82 pts
2Lapierre Gravity Republic78 
3Hutchinson UR71 
4Specialized Racing DH68 
5GT Factory Racing68 
6Commencal / Riding Addiction56 
7Santa Cruz Syndicate47 
8Giant Factory Off-Road Team37 
9Trek World Racing32 
10Ms Mondraker Team25 
11Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof22 
12Fmd Racing18 
13Gstaad-Scott18 
14Evil Vengeance Tour16 
15Unior Tools Team11 
16Green To Gold Race Development10 
17Pivot Factory DH Team9 
18Kona Factory Team6 
19Devinci Global Racing2 

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