Minnaar takes narrow victory in downhill world championships

Atherton and Smith settle for medals

The men's race for the downhill world title in Leogang, Austria, had a dozen strong contenders, and South Africa's Greg Minnaar took a that victory came down to the wire.  Gee Atherton (Great Britain) was second, ahead of Steve Smith (Canada).

Australia's Bryn Atkinson set the first sub-3:30 time, with nearly 50 riders to go. Sam Dale (Great Britain) quickly took off three-tenths of a second and held the hot seat for 20 riders before he was replaced by Florent Payet (France), with a drop of two seconds in the lead time.

Australian Mick Hannah took the leading time below 3:24 with 10 riders to go, but was immediately replaced by Canada's Steve Smith, who was bumped by Gee Atherton (Great Britain) with two riders left to finish. Minnaar came in next, half a second ahead of Atherton, but everyone knew that the final rider, American Aaron Gwin, could quite easily upset the standings. Gwin has won an incredible nine World Cups in 13 races over the past two seasons, so everyone was waiting to see what he could do.

However, it became apparent early in his run that Gwin was suffering mechanical problems, eventually finishing a distant 83rd, after his front and rear brakes, in the words of the team manager, "exploded". Minnaar jumped to his feet from the hot seat as he was mobbed by well wishers, ecstatic to win his second world title.

"It's been nine years and this run it, was tough," said Minnaar. "I had a lot of pressure today, I was super nervous. To be honest, I tried to nail the top section and just after the bridge I lost a lot of speed, I had to pedal hard. But I held it together, in a way same as in the Pietermaritzburg World Cup earlier this season. I couldn't believe I crossed the line in first."

"I am a bit bummed for Gwinny, he seems to have had a mechanical. I am not sure what happened. It is not exactly the best way for me to win, or how I'd like to win, but we are all out there trying our best. We all have mechanicals from time to time, that's part of racing."

Third place finisher Smith said, "Everybody comes to world champs to win. I didn't win, but if I am not on top, I'd rather be on the podium. I've had silver and bronze, so hopefully the next one will be gold. The track was awesome – quite grippy as the sun was out all day. I can’t believe the crowd; I have been here twice now for World Cups and they didn’t even have half the crowd we’ve had today. There were people all the way down, it was full of people, so it made the race good."

Race notes

- Steve Peat (Great Britain) was participating in his 20th world championship in a row.  He was recognized for his achievement with a special jersey from the UCI.  After quite a fast split time, he was out of the title race because of an unfortunate crash on a berm. 

- Austrian rider Markus Pekoll rode to his first world championship top ten placing in his career (ninth).

- Justin Leov (New Zealand) was competing in the final race of his career. "For sure I was chasing a top 10 here. The course had dried up really well and I was looking forward to running at speed and getting a great result. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and I'll have to settle for 21st, but it has been an amazing run from Kaprun (Austria) in 2002, to these World Champs in Austria 10 years later."

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Minnaar (South Africa)0:03:21.790 
2Gee Atherton (Great Britain)0:00:00.581 
3Steve Smith (Canada)0:00:01.214 
4Michael Hannah (Australia)0:00:02.140 
5Samuel Hill (Australia)0:00:03.406 
6Damien Spagnolo (France)0:00:03.859 
7Florent Payet (France)0:00:04.227 
8Brook Macdonald (New Zealand)0:00:04.861 
9Markus Pekoll (Austria)0:00:05.774 
10Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Colombia)0:00:06.064 
11Samuel Blenkinsop (New Zealand)0:00:06.375 
12Sam Dale (Great Britain)0:00:06.504 
13Bryn Atkinson (Australia)0:00:06.794 
14Marc Beaumont (Great Britain)0:00:07.101 
15Rémi Thirion (France)0:00:07.167 
16Cameron Cole (New Zealand)0:00:07.283 
17Johannes Fischbach (Germany)0:00:07.430 
18Mitchell Delfs (Australia)0:00:07.980 
18Andrew Neethling (South Africa)  
20Joshua Button (Australia)0:00:08.198 
21Justin Leov (New Zealand)0:00:08.534 
22Luke Strobel (United States Of America)0:00:08.582 
23Boris Tetzlaff (Austria)0:00:08.886 
24Matthew Simmonds (Great Britain)0:00:08.904 
25Lorenzo Suding (Italy)0:00:08.915 
26George Brannigan (New Zealand)0:00:09.065 
27Neko Mulally (United States Of America)0:00:09.713 
28Lutz Weber (Switzerland)0:00:09.850 
29Aurélien Giordanengo (France)0:00:10.062 
30Robin Wallner (Sweden)0:00:10.240 
31Mitch Ropelato (United States Of America)0:00:10.336 
32Jared Graves (Australia)0:00:10.623 
33Logan Binggeli (United States Of America)0:00:11.084 
34Joseph Smith (Great Britain)0:00:11.099 
35Mickael Pascal (France)0:00:11.925 
36Steve Peat (Great Britain)0:00:11.971 
37Lars Peyer (Switzerland)0:00:12.022 
38Pierre Charles Georges (France)0:00:12.243 
39Isak Leivsson (Norway)0:00:12.567 
40Benny Strasser (Germany)0:00:12.646 
41Slawomir Lukasik (Poland)0:00:12.692 
42Johann Potgieter (South Africa)0:00:12.761 
43Matthew Beer (Canada)0:00:12.823 
44Filip Polc (Slovakia)0:00:13.139 
45Francisco Pardal (Portugal)0:00:13.458 
46Ben Reid (Ireland)0:00:14.315 
47Andreas Sieber (Germany)0:00:15.528 
48Kyle Sangers (Canada)0:00:15.724 
49Niklas Wallner (Sweden)0:00:15.931 
50Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spain)0:00:16.680 
51Nick Beer (Switzerland)0:00:17.008 
52Oscar Harnstrom (Sweden)0:00:17.095 
53Fabian Fader (Germany)0:00:17.248 
54Felix Wunderlich (Germany)0:00:18.117 
55Ewan Doherty (Ireland)0:00:18.646 
56Ziga Pandur (Slovenia)0:00:19.028 
57Nejc Rutar (Slovenia)0:00:19.075 
58Lukas Splichal (Czech Republic)0:00:19.093 
59Attila Liszi (Hungary)0:00:20.056 
60Carlo Gambirasio (Italy)0:00:20.944 
61Eliot Jackson (United States Of America)0:00:21.962 
62Matti Lehikoinen (Finland)0:00:22.593 
63Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spain)0:00:23.041 
64Arkadiusz Perin (Poland)0:00:23.275 
65Duncan Riffle (United States Of America)0:00:23.436 
66Rostislav Stencel (Czech Republic)0:00:23.609 
67Andréa Gamenara (Italy)0:00:23.690 
68Mathias Haas (Austria)0:00:24.098 
69Greg Callaghan (Ireland)0:00:24.448 
70Kazuki Shimizu (Japan)0:00:24.902 
71Emanuel Pombo (Portugal)0:00:25.193 
72Pietro Caire (Italy)0:00:26.066 
73Jan Javornik (Slovakia)0:00:26.198 
74Alvaro Hidalgo Vasquez (Costa Rica)0:00:26.278 
75Josh Bryceland (Great Britain)0:00:26.763 
76Lukas Ucen (Slovakia)0:00:27.034 
77Tomas Liska (Slovakia)0:00:27.209 
78Matej Laktis (Slovakia)0:00:27.485 
79Remi Gauvin (Canada)0:00:27.688 
80Pavel Cep (Czech Republic)0:00:27.945 
81Edgar Carballo Gonzalez (Spain)0:00:28.228 
82Marco Milivinti (Italy)0:00:29.010 
83Aaron Gwin (United States Of America)0:00:30.538 
84Lars Vatnebryn Sandviken (Norway)0:00:31.047 
85Manuel Gruber (Austria)0:00:31.381 
86Martin Messavilla (Italy)0:00:32.208 
87Markus Planitzer (Austria)0:00:32.763 
88Claudio Caluori (Switzerland)0:00:33.233 
89Petr Tresnak (Czech Republic)0:00:33.937 
90Petrik Jurs (Estonia)0:00:34.378 
91Valentyn Popov (Ukraine)0:00:35.220 
92Orlando Sarioglou (Greece)0:00:35.771 
93Felipe Andres Saenz Anabalon (Chile)0:00:36.661 
94Mario Reinbacher (Austria)0:00:37.491 
95Miran Vauh (Slovenia)0:00:39.513 
96Vladimir Pulaevskiy (Russian Federation)0:00:40.442 
97Oleksiy Priymachek (Ukraine)0:00:41.959 
98Bernardo Neves (Brazil)0:00:44.211 
99Miklos Kantor (Hungary)0:00:46.015 
100Adam Vagner (Czech Republic)0:00:48.037 
101Berislav Topol (Croatia)0:00:48.354 
102Marko Sisovic (Croatia)0:00:49.155 
103Marios Papasimakopoulos (Greece)0:00:50.294 
104Viktor Usachev (Russian Federation)0:00:56.426 
105Peter Keresztes (Hungary)0:01:00.009 
106Thibaut Ruffin (France)0:01:01.938 
107Erik-Lennart Purres (Estonia)0:01:11.513 
108Mahdi Mirzahosseini (Islamic Republic of Iran)0:01:30.835 
109Felipe Zanette (Brazil)0:01:39.182 
110Mart Laosma (Estonia)0:01:42.145 
111Alexandr Zubenko (Kazakhstan)0:02:52.207 
112Ludovic May (Switzerland)0:06:25.529 
DNFNoah Grossman (Germany)  
DNFZakarias Blom Johansen (Norway)  
DNFTroy Brosnan (Australia)  
DNSMauricio Andres Acuna Quintana (Chile)  
Rankings by nation
#Rider Country
1Australia326 pts
2Great Britain320 
5South Africa287 
6United States Of America268 
16Czech Republic144 
26Costa Rica42 
29Russian Federation32 
33Islamic Republic Of Iran8 

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