TechPowered By

More tech

August 07, Elite men downhill:

Minnaar edges Atherton in La Bresse

By:
Rob Jones
Published:
August 07, 2011, 17:10 BST,
Updated:
August 08, 2011, 21:56 BST

Gwin claims third, locks up World Cup title

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took his second win of the season.

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took his second win of the season.

view thumbnail gallery

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took his second win of the season at La Bresse, France, in round six of the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup. However, it was not enough to stop Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) from locking up the men's World Cup overall title with a third place, an impressive feat with one race still remaining in the series. Gee Atherton (Commencal) took second on the day.

The men started with the same course-drying conditions as the women, and the first rider on the course, Tim Bentley (Morewood United Ride), set the first fast, sub-2:20 time. He was bumped a few riders later by Brit Greg Williamson, before Sam Dale (Sunn Montgenevre) took a more significant 3.2 seconds off the lead, to drop it to 2:16.100.

Harry Heath (Junior Tools) scrubbed a tenth of a second off, but it was Britain's Ben Cathro who set what would prove to be the first top-ten time, and spend much of the race in the Hot Seat. Cathro was aided by intermittent rain, heavy at times, that made some drying dirt sections slippery again, forcing riders to navigate more cautiously than riders that went down earlier in the seeding.

Cathro stayed on top through 34 riders before Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) finally displaced him by 0.414 seconds. Leov was immediately pushed out of the top spot one rider later by Marc Beaumont (GT). It was a certainty that the next rider down, Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate), was about to bump Beaumont when he crashed spectacularly in sight of the finish line. Bryceland, using flat pedals, was over a half a second faster at the second split, but just before the final jump his right foot slipped off his pedal and he went tumbling.

Fabien Barel (Mondraker), the two-time world champion and French favourite, managed to recover from a near crash at the top of the course, and slip-slid his way through the mud to finish 0.675 seconds ahead of Beaumont and move into the hot seat, which he held through Andrew Neethling (Giant) and Cam Cole (Lapierre), before Minnaar came down the track.

Minnaar had qualified a relatively slow fifth, but was on fire for his final run. The South African was near flawless, avoiding the slide-outs that cost others time, while still managing to throw in pedal strokes where others were coasting. He came flying across the line nearly 3.5 seconds faster than Barel, setting the first sub-2:10 time of the day.

Minnaar's teammate Steve Peat rode next, with a time that was initially good enough for fifth in the final standings. However, the Brit had slid off course on the wet grass near the top, sliding through the tape on one side of a pole and then back in on the other side. It wasn't intentional, and didn't offer him any advantage, but was enough to subsequently disqualify him.

It was down to the final three riders, with Gee Atherton looking at upsetting Minnaar after recording the fastest split of the day at the upper half of the course. However, he slowed significantly through the tight, twisty middle section, to finish 0.459 seconds behind Minnaar at the line. Canada's Steve Smith (Devinci) could not repeat his second place run from qualifying and finished seventh, leaving only World Cup leader Gwin to ride.

From the start, it was clear that Gwin was not showing the dominating form that he has had all season, four-tenths of a second back at the first split and almost two seconds back at the second split. He lost another half a second by the finish line, but it was good enough for third, and locked up the World Cup title, with an insurmountable lead of 310 points over Minnaar. Gee Atherton remains third, a further 151 points back.

"After I crashed at Mont-Sainte-Anne, I wasn't carrying a lot of confidence through Windham," said Minnaar. "So I went to Santa Cruz [California] and spent three weeks getting ready for this last trip. I felt bit discouraged being beat by Aaron by so much in the qualies, so after practice this morning I went back to my room and just hung out by myself and just really thought about the run that I needed to put together if I was to have any chance to win this race.

"I ran into a lot of mud spray at the top, and I was being somewhat cautious, so I didn't think it was enough to win, but I guess I kept it smooth, and I guess that was enough to win. It's awesome to do that. It was just a great weekend, with a great crowd and a great atmosphere."

Race notes

- Minnaar's win was his 52nd podium appearance, tying him with teammate Steve Peat for the most (Peat would have gotten his 53rd if he hadn't been DQ'd).

- Fabien Barel (Mondraker Factory Team) announced that he will retire at the end of this season, following the World Cup Final (Val di Sole, Italy, in two weeks) and the world championships in Champery, Switzerland. Barel, who won back-to-back elite world titles in 11 years of World Cup competition plus a junior world title, has been battling injuries over the past few seasons, including riding at times with a leg brace, so, while it will be sad to see the cheerful Frenchman leave, it is not totally unexpected.

Full Results
1 Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate 0:02:09.611  
2 Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal 0:00:00.459  
3 Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing 0:00:02.429  
4 Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team 0:00:03.473  
5 Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International 0:00:03.979  
6 Marc Beaumont (GBr) 0:00:04.148  
7 Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing 0:00:04.390  
8 Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team 0:00:05.003  
9 Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing 0:00:05.196  
10 Ben Cathro (GBr) 0:00:05.610  
11 Brook MacDonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing 0:00:05.694  
12 Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz 0:00:05.862  
13 Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team 0:00:06.020  
14 Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride 0:00:06.182  
15 Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof 0:00:06.223  
16 Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team 0:00:06.381  
17 Michael Hannah (Aus) 0:00:06.385  
18 Harry Heath (GBr) Unior Tools Team 0:00:06.394  
19 Alex Bond (GBr) 0:00:06.481  
20 Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre 0:00:06.489  
21 Lewis Buchanan* (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof 0:00:06.508  
22 Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges 0:00:07.091  
23 Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing 0:00:07.095  
24 Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof 0:00:07.243  
25 Bernard Kerr (GBr) 0:00:07.309  
26 Ben Reid (Irl) Dirt Norco Race Team 0:00:07.337  
27 Adam Brayton (GBr) 0:00:07.550  
28 Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spa) 0:00:07.623  
29 Eliot Jackson (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team 0:00:07.824  
30 Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz 0:00:07.979  
31 Loic Bruni* (Fra) Lapierre International 0:00:08.005  
32 Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) CG Racing Brigade 0:00:08.258  
33 Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team 0:00:08.322  
34 Marcus Klausmann (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team 0:00:08.350  
35 Nico Vink (Bel) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges 0:00:08.413  
36 Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 11 0:00:08.494  
37 Joshua Button (Aus) SC - Intense 0:00:08.642  
38 Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Evil Racing 0:00:08.680  
39 Joris Bigoni (Fra) 0:00:09.228  
40 Dan Atherton (GBr) Commencal 0:00:09.380  
41 George Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing 0:00:09.394  
42 Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek 0:00:09.549  
43 Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing 0:00:09.624  
44 Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona 0:00:09.625  
45 Greg Williamson (GBr) 0:00:09.681  
46 Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride 0:00:09.822  
47 Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride 0:00:09.910  
48 Jack Reading (GBr) 0:00:10.105  
49 Marco Milivinti (Ita) Torpado Surfing Shop 0:00:10.107  
50 Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing 0:00:10.419  
51 Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain 0:00:10.429  
52 Mark Scott* (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain 0:00:10.942  
53 Fergus Lamb (GBr) 0:00:11.057  
54 Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate 0:00:11.310  
55 Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 11 0:00:11.548  
56 Felix Beckeman (Swe) 0:00:12.145  
57 Oscar Harnstrom (Swe) 0:00:12.399  
58 Joe Barnes (GBr) 0:00:12.413  
59 Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof 0:00:12.707  
60 Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team 0:00:12.755  
61 Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team 0:00:13.135  
62 Ralph Jones (GBr) 0:00:13.167  
63 Boris Tetzlaff (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria 0:00:13.244  
64 Rudy Cabirou* (Fra) 0:00:13.366  
65 Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team 0:00:13.388  
66 Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spa) 0:00:13.896  
67 Isak Leivsson* (Nor) 0:00:14.166  
68 Benny Strasser (Ger) 0:00:14.495  
69 Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre 0:00:15.399  
70 Jasper Jauch (Ger) 0:00:15.551  
71 Peter Williams (GBr) 0:00:15.666  
72 Scott Mears (GBr) 0:00:17.199  
73 Ludovic Oget* (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team 0:00:17.223  
74 Romain Contreres* (Fra) US Cagnes VTT 0:00:18.340  
75 Robert Smith (GBr) 0:00:18.923  
76 Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team 0:00:19.527  
77 Thomas Braithwaite (GBr) 0:00:19.888  
78 Benjamin Staehle* (Fra) 0:00:20.243  
79 Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal 0:00:46.581  
80 Claudio Cozzi (Ita) 0:00:50.038  
DSQ Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate    
DNS Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International    
UCI World Cup Downhill standings after round 6
1 Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing 1308 pts
2 Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate 998  
3 Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal 847  
4 Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing 732  
5 Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team 689  
6 Brook MacDonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing 640  
7 Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International 552  
8 Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing 552  
9 Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate 548  
10 Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate 539  
11 Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team 526  
12 Marc Beaumont (GBr) 492  
13 Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International 478  
14 Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz 475  
15 Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team 391  
16 Cédric Gracia (Fra) CG Racing Brigade 366  
17 Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team 359  
18 Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing 345  
19 Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek 341  
20 Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride 321  
21 Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz 315  
22 Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Evil Racing 307  
23 Michael Hannah (Aus) 304  
24 Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges 304  
25 Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof 301  
26 Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre 299  
27 Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain 298  
28 Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing 275  
29 Ben Cathro (GBr) 264  
30 Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team 259  
31 Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing 255  
32 Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof 248  
33 Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz 247  
34 Florent Payet (Fra) SC - Intense 246  
35 Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 11 239  
36 Ben Reid (Irl) Dirt Norco Race Team 236  
37 Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre 233  
38 Lewis Buchanan* (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof 231  
39 Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team 228  
40 Romain Paulhan (Fra) 226  
41 Harry Heath (GBr) Unior Tools Team 223  
42 Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride 222  
43 Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 11 220  
44 Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team 220  
45 Loic Bruni* (Fra) Lapierre International 215  
46 Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W - Racing 213  
47 Joshua Button (Aus) SC - Intense 208  
48 Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) CG Racing Brigade 204  
49 Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona 192  
50 Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof 187  
51 Nico Vink (Bel) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges 181  
52 Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal 177  
53 Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team 171  
54 Mitch Ropelato (USA) 153  
55 Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team 146  
56 Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spa) 144  
57 George Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing 141  
58 Mark Scott* (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain 139  
59 Alex Bond (GBr) 138  
60 Adam Brayton (GBr) 137  
61 Boris Tetzlaff (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria 126  
62 Lorenzo Suding (Ita) 120  
63 Dan Atherton (GBr) Commencal 120  
64 Greg Williamson (GBr) 116  
65 Fergus Lamb (GBr) 115  
66 Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride 109  
67 Thomas Braithwaite (GBr) 104  
68 Bernard Kerr (GBr) 102  
69 Matej Charvat (Cze) 97  
70 Marcus Klausmann (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team 94  
71 Oscar Harnstrom (Swe) 83  
72 Bryn Atkinson (Aus) 80  
73 Kyle Sangers* (Can) 80  
74 Curtis Keene (USA) 80  
75 Emanuel Pombo (Por) 72  
76 Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team 70  
77 Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team 68  
78 Dean Tennant (Can) 68  
79 Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa) 67  
80 Jack Reading (GBr) 65  
81 Nejc Rutar (Slo) Unior Tools Team 64  
82 Scott Mears (GBr) 64  
83 Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spa) 62  
84 Austin Warren* (USA) 58  
85 Richard Thomas (GBr) 57  
86 Connor Fearon* (Aus) Kona 57  
87 Eliot Jackson (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team 55  
88 Johann Potgieter (RSA) 53  
89 Benny Strasser (Ger) 52  
90 Joris Bigoni (Fra) 50  
91 Ralph Jones (GBr) 49  
92 Florian Arthus (Fra) 48  
93 Wyn Masters (NZl) MS Evil Racing 47  
94 Marco Milivinti (Ita) Torpado Surfing Shop 40  
95 Lars Peyer (Swi) SC - Intense 40  
96 Thomas Jeandin (Swi) 36  
97 Will Rischbieth (Aus) 35  
98 Harry Molloy (GBr) Madison Saracen 35  
99 Joe Barnes (GBr) 34  
100 Marcel Beer (Swi) 31  
101 Cody Warren (USA) 29  
102 Chris Del Bosco (Can) 29  
103 Oliver Burton (GBr) 28  
104 Gavin Vaughan (USA) 27  
105 Jonty Neethling (RSA) 27  
106 Alexander Kangas (Swe) 26  
107 Yann Gauvin (Can) 25  
108 Felix Beckeman (Swe) 25  
109 Dominik Gspan (Swi) 25  
110 Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal 25  
111 Gareth Brewin (GBr) 23  
112 Hayden Brown (RSA) 23  
113 Simon Cardon (Fra) Xcytt Racing 22  
114 Remi Gauvin (Can) 22  
115 Robert Smith (GBr) 18  
116 Fraser McGlone* (GBr) 17  
117 Rudy Cabirou* (Fra) 17  
118 Daniel Pombo (Por) 16  
119 Hans Lambert (Can) 15  
120 Kelvin Purchase (RSA) 15  
121 Charly Di Pasquale (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team 15  
122 Ziga Pandur (Slo) Unior Tools Team 14  
123 Chris Hutchens (GBr) 14  
124 Isak Leivsson* (Nor) 14  
125 Tiaan Odendaal* (RSA) 13  
126 Matt Zdriluk (Can) 12  
127 Jasper Jauch (Ger) 11  
128 Seanan O'Riordan (Irl) 11  
129 Francesco Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Team Cingolani Trek 11  
130 Hajime Imoto (Jpn) 11  
131 Peter Williams (GBr) 10  
132 Roman Roschi (Swi) 10  
133 Logan Binggeli (USA) 10  
134 Ludovic Oget* (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team 8  
135 Arthur Parret* (Fra) Passion Velo Thiers Stemtee 8  
136 Yuki Kushima* (Jpn) 8  
137 Christopher Mcglinchey* (Irl) 8  
138 Romain Contreres* (Fra) US Cagnes VTT 7  
139 Jérôme Payet (Fra) 7  
140 Rob Fraser (Can) 6  
141 Daniel Sims (NZl) 6  
142 Mathias Haas (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria 5  
143 Mathieu Gallean (Fra) Ryde - Racing 5  
144 Cyrille Kurtz (Fra) CK Racing Santacruz 4  
145 Daniel Critchlow (GBr) 4  
146 Adam Vagner (Cze) 3  
147 Benjamin Staehle* (Fra) 3  
148 Niklas Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W - Racing 3  
149 Travis Browning (RSA) 3  
150 Claudio Cozzi (Ita) 1