Minnaar crash leads to slow start in World Cup

The UCI Mountain Bike Downhill World Cup once again chose the north eastern Spanish city of Vigo to kick off the new international race season, and once again the two and a half minute trail (slightly shorter this year) took its toll on the world's best downhill racers and provided some unexpected results. 2005 World Cup Champion Greg Minnaar (RSA) crashed heavily in the final and was lucky to escape serious injury after a small tree stump caught his front wheel in a high-speed section of the course.

In the semi final, Minnaar took to the course first as the reigning World Cup champion, and crossed the line with a time of 2m 28.951secs but he was a little disappointed knowing that there were a few areas where extra time could have been found. He finished seventh .

Minnaar's major crash was his first in a World Cup final in four years that was to take him out of contention for the day. Coming into a fast chicane in the top half of the course, where he needed to flick the bike from right to left at high speed, his front wheel seemed to hook up on a tree stump as he turned from left to right, and at high speed he flew over the handlebars landing on his head.

"I'm incredibly disappointed by this crash," Minnaar said. "I felt really fast at the top and I was really on the limit. In this section where I crashed, I'd really got it dialed during practice. I'd seen the tree stump there before but in the final I must have just clipped it after running a little wide due to the speed I was carrying from the previous section. I was really nervous carrying the number 1 plate at the start of the new season and meeting so many expectations, not the least of which were from myself. I feel pretty disappointed not to have a achieved a strong result to build upon, and not to have backed up all the great work down by the team to get us so competitive this week."

His left wrist took some of the impact away from his head and neck, and he rolled down the track. Quickly getting to his feet and remounting his Honda RN01 to find only the seat nose broken, he continued on to finish 19th. His time for the second half of the course was equal to that of third place finisher Steve Peat.

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