Minnaar edges Atherton in La Bresse

Gwin claims third, locks up World Cup title

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
1Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:02:09.611 
2Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal0:00:00.459 
3Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:02.429 
4Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:03.473 
5Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International0:00:03.979 
6Marc Beaumont (GBr)0:00:04.148 
7Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing0:00:04.390 
8Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:05.003 
9Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:05.196 
10Ben Cathro (GBr)0:00:05.610 
11Brook MacDonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing0:00:05.694 
12Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:05.862 
13Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:06.020 
14Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride0:00:06.182 
15Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof0:00:06.223 
16Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:06.381 
17Michael Hannah (Aus)0:00:06.385 
18Harry Heath (GBr) Unior Tools Team0:00:06.394 
19Alex Bond (GBr)0:00:06.481 
20Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:06.489 
21Lewis Buchanan* (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof0:00:06.508 
22Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges0:00:07.091 
23Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing0:00:07.095 
24Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof0:00:07.243 
25Bernard Kerr (GBr)0:00:07.309 
26Ben Reid (Irl) Dirt Norco Race Team0:00:07.337 
27Adam Brayton (GBr)0:00:07.550 
28Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spa)0:00:07.623 
29Eliot Jackson (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:07.824 
30Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:07.979 
31Loic Bruni* (Fra) Lapierre International0:00:08.005 
32Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) CG Racing Brigade0:00:08.258 
33Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:08.322 
34Marcus Klausmann (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team0:00:08.350 
35Nico Vink (Bel) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges0:00:08.413 
36Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 110:00:08.494 
37Joshua Button (Aus) SC - Intense0:00:08.642 
38Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Evil Racing0:00:08.680 
39Joris Bigoni (Fra)0:00:09.228 
40Dan Atherton (GBr) Commencal0:00:09.380 
41George Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing0:00:09.394 
42Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek0:00:09.549 
43Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing0:00:09.624 
44Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona0:00:09.625 
45Greg Williamson (GBr)0:00:09.681 
46Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride0:00:09.822 
47Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride0:00:09.910 
48Jack Reading (GBr)0:00:10.105 
49Marco Milivinti (Ita) Torpado Surfing Shop0:00:10.107 
50Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:10.419 
51Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain0:00:10.429 
52Mark Scott* (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain0:00:10.942 
53Fergus Lamb (GBr)0:00:11.057 
54Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:11.310 
55Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 110:00:11.548 
56Felix Beckeman (Swe)0:00:12.145 
57Oscar Harnstrom (Swe)0:00:12.399 
58Joe Barnes (GBr)0:00:12.413 
59Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof0:00:12.707 
60Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team0:00:12.755 
61Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:13.135 
62Ralph Jones (GBr)0:00:13.167 
63Boris Tetzlaff (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria0:00:13.244 
64Rudy Cabirou* (Fra)0:00:13.366 
65Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:13.388 
66Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spa)0:00:13.896 
67Isak Leivsson* (Nor)0:00:14.166 
68Benny Strasser (Ger)0:00:14.495 
69Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:15.399 
70Jasper Jauch (Ger)0:00:15.551 
71Peter Williams (GBr)0:00:15.666 
72Scott Mears (GBr)0:00:17.199 
73Ludovic Oget* (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:17.223 
74Romain Contreres* (Fra) US Cagnes VTT0:00:18.340 
75Robert Smith (GBr)0:00:18.923 
76Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:19.527 
77Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)0:00:19.888 
78Benjamin Staehle* (Fra)0:00:20.243 
79Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal0:00:46.581 
80Claudio Cozzi (Ita)0:00:50.038 
DSQSteve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate  
DNSSamuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International  
UCI World Cup Downhill standings after round 6
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing1308pts
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate998 
3Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal847 
4Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing732 
5Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team689 
6Brook MacDonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing640 
7Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International552 
8Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing552 
9Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate548 
10Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate539 
11Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team526 
12Marc Beaumont (GBr)492 
13Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International478 
14Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz475 
15Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team391 
16Cédric Gracia (Fra) CG Racing Brigade366 
17Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team359 
18Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing345 
19Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek341 
20Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride321 
21Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz315 
22Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Evil Racing307 
23Michael Hannah (Aus)304 
24Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges304 
25Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof301 
26Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre299 
27Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain298 
28Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing275 
29Ben Cathro (GBr)264 
30Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team259 
31Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing255 
32Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof248 
33Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz247 
34Florent Payet (Fra) SC - Intense246 
35Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 11239 
36Ben Reid (Irl) Dirt Norco Race Team236 
37Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre233 
38Lewis Buchanan* (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof231 
39Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team228 
40Romain Paulhan (Fra)226 
41Harry Heath (GBr) Unior Tools Team223 
42Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride222 
43Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 11220 
44Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team220 
45Loic Bruni* (Fra) Lapierre International215 
46Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W - Racing213 
47Joshua Button (Aus) SC - Intense208 
48Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) CG Racing Brigade204 
49Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona192 
50Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof187 
51Nico Vink (Bel) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges181 
52Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal177 
53Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team171 
54Mitch Ropelato (USA)153 
55Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team146 
56Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spa)144 
57George Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing141 
58Mark Scott* (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain139 
59Alex Bond (GBr)138 
60Adam Brayton (GBr)137 
61Boris Tetzlaff (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria126 
62Lorenzo Suding (Ita)120 
63Dan Atherton (GBr) Commencal120 
64Greg Williamson (GBr)116 
65Fergus Lamb (GBr)115 
66Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride109 
67Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)104 
68Bernard Kerr (GBr)102 
69Matej Charvat (Cze)97 
70Marcus Klausmann (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team94 
71Oscar Harnstrom (Swe)83 
72Bryn Atkinson (Aus)80 
73Kyle Sangers* (Can)80 
74Curtis Keene (USA)80 
75Emanuel Pombo (Por)72 
76Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team70 
77Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team68 
78Dean Tennant (Can)68 
79Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa)67 
80Jack Reading (GBr)65 
81Nejc Rutar (Slo) Unior Tools Team64 
82Scott Mears (GBr)64 
83Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spa)62 
84Austin Warren* (USA)58 
85Richard Thomas (GBr)57 
86Connor Fearon* (Aus) Kona57 
87Eliot Jackson (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team55 
88Johann Potgieter (RSA)53 
89Benny Strasser (Ger)52 
90Joris Bigoni (Fra)50 
91Ralph Jones (GBr)49 
92Florian Arthus (Fra)48 
93Wyn Masters (NZl) MS Evil Racing47 
94Marco Milivinti (Ita) Torpado Surfing Shop40 
95Lars Peyer (Swi) SC - Intense40 
96Thomas Jeandin (Swi)36 
97Will Rischbieth (Aus)35 
98Harry Molloy (GBr) Madison Saracen35 
99Joe Barnes (GBr)34 
100Marcel Beer (Swi)31 
101Cody Warren (USA)29 
102Chris Del Bosco (Can)29 
103Oliver Burton (GBr)28 
104Gavin Vaughan (USA)27 
105Jonty Neethling (RSA)27 
106Alexander Kangas (Swe)26 
107Yann Gauvin (Can)25 
108Felix Beckeman (Swe)25 
109Dominik Gspan (Swi)25 
110Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal25 
111Gareth Brewin (GBr)23 
112Hayden Brown (RSA)23 
113Simon Cardon (Fra) Xcytt Racing22 
114Remi Gauvin (Can)22 
115Robert Smith (GBr)18 
116Fraser McGlone* (GBr)17 
117Rudy Cabirou* (Fra)17 
118Daniel Pombo (Por)16 
119Hans Lambert (Can)15 
120Kelvin Purchase (RSA)15 
121Charly Di Pasquale (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team15 
122Ziga Pandur (Slo) Unior Tools Team14 
123Chris Hutchens (GBr)14 
124Isak Leivsson* (Nor)14 
125Tiaan Odendaal* (RSA)13 
126Matt Zdriluk (Can)12 
127Jasper Jauch (Ger)11 
128Seanan O'Riordan (Irl)11 
129Francesco Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Team Cingolani Trek11 
130Hajime Imoto (Jpn)11 
131Peter Williams (GBr)10 
132Roman Roschi (Swi)10 
133Logan Binggeli (USA)10 
134Ludovic Oget* (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team8 
135Arthur Parret* (Fra) Passion Velo Thiers Stemtee8 
136Yuki Kushima* (Jpn)8 
137Christopher Mcglinchey* (Irl)8 
138Romain Contreres* (Fra) US Cagnes VTT7 
139Jérôme Payet (Fra)7 
140Rob Fraser (Can)6 
141Daniel Sims (NZl)6 
142Mathias Haas (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria5 
143Mathieu Gallean (Fra) Ryde - Racing5 
144Cyrille Kurtz (Fra) CK Racing Santacruz4 
145Daniel Critchlow (GBr)4 
146Adam Vagner (Cze)3 
147Benjamin Staehle* (Fra)3 
148Niklas Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W - Racing3 
149Travis Browning (RSA)3 
150Claudio Cozzi (Ita)1 

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