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Minnaar is all business

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) races to second place at Windham Mountain

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) races to second place at Windham Mountain (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/

Former downhill World Champion and multi-time World Cup overall winner Greg Minnaar is up to more than being a pro downhill cyclist. The South African, who has tried his hand at business before, has started a new business called Global Racing Imports with 23 Degrees Sports' Martin Whiteley.

The company will open operations by importing and selling OGK Kabuto helmets from Japan. Minnaar announced the news at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Quebec, on Thursday evening.

The helmets are currently in prototype versions, one of which Minnaar is racing. They will become available via the new company and it's website in early spring of 2011.

OGK has been in the bicycle helmet business in Japan since the 1960s although the shift to racing oriented helmets is more recent. One company official in attendance for the announcement noted that the performance helmets are now wind tunnel tested to maximize aerodynamic performance. The new helmets also reflect the experience the company has gained with motorcycle helmets.

Minnaar is a director in the new business. "We've sent everything up and we've been getting product ready. We're based in Grenada. I like business and I'm delighted to be involved."

It's not Minnaar's first foray into business. "In one of my other business ventures, we have villas where people can come and stay and mountain bike. We set up their holidays. They can ride or surf and just enjoy the outdoors in places like Marin County, South Africa and Costa Rica."

When asked how his downhill background was helping him in business, Minnaar laughed and said, "It probably doesn't at all." Then he added more seriously, "Through the years of dealing with sponsors, I have practice negotiating, and I've made lots of great connections during my career."

Though Minnaar said he's been busy spending "10 hours a day in business meetings and only about an hour a day riding," he still managed to finish first in the official timed downhill run on Thursday. The run sets up the seeding for the world championship finals on Sunday.

Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.