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Gwin gives USA first downhill win in years

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Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing)

Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Steve Peat's bike.

Steve Peat's bike.
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
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Greg Minnaar carried the hopes of a nation.

Greg Minnaar carried the hopes of a nation.
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
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Massive crowds cheered on the downhill athletes.

Massive crowds cheered on the downhill athletes.
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
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Festivities as the crowd awaits the downhill final

Festivities as the crowd awaits the downhill final
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
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A rider gets some big air.

A rider gets some big air.
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
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A downhill rider flies over the rock garden.

A downhill rider flies over the rock garden.
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
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Young spectators came out to support their heros.

Young spectators came out to support their heros.
(Image credit: Zoon Cronje)
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Sam Hill (Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz)

Sam Hill (Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing)

Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)

Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Gee Atherton (Commencal)

Gee Atherton (Commencal)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Aaron Gwin leads the world Cup

Aaron Gwin leads the world Cup
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Podium: Barel, Minnaar, Gwin, Atherton, Peat

Podium: Barel, Minnaar, Gwin, Atherton, Peat
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Cédric Gracia (CG Racing Brigade)

Cédric Gracia (CG Racing Brigade)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Fabien Barel (Mondraker Factory Team)

Fabien Barel (Mondraker Factory Team)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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4X winner Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team) finished a respectable 13th

4X winner Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team) finished a respectable 13th
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Mitch Ropelato

Mitch Ropelato
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)
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Troy Brosnan (Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz)

Troy Brosnan (Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz)
(Image credit: Canadian Cyclist)

The first round of the 2011 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup concluded in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa on Easter Sunday with the crowd favourite downhill. While local favourite Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) was not able to repeat his victory of two seasons ago in the men's race, the thousands of fans were treated to exciting racing, with the men's title won by less than three-tenths of a second. Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) brought home the first US downhill World Cup victory in years. Minnaar's ride was good enough for second ahead of Gee Atherton (Commencal) in third.

In the 82-rider men's field, it was four time cross World Cup winner Jared Graves (Yeti Fox Shox), who set the first fast time of 4:17.183. Graves stayed in the hot seat through 15 riders before the New Zealand champion Cameron Cole (Lapierre International) was able to edge him out. Cole had a much shorter time in the lead, as Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) knocked nearly two seconds off the top time only three riders later. Peat was uncharacteristically seeded low, since he has been fighting the effects of a flu which sapped his power all week.

Peat withstood the challenges of a number of top names, as the start list counted down: Sam Blenkinsop (Lapierre International), Marc Beaumont (Team GT), Justin Leov (Trek World Racing), Steve Smith (Devinci), Andrew Neethling (Giant) and world champion Sam Hill (Monster Energy/Specialized/Mad Catz).

Peat's time in the hot seat lasted until American Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) knocked a staggering seven seconds off the best time.

Defending World Cup champion Gee Atherton (Commencal) could only manage a time within two seconds of Gwin, which was good enough for third, and Minnaar, with the entire crowd cheering him down the course, came oh-so-close, but was 0.241 seconds in arrears. When the fastest qualifier, Mick Hannah (Team GT) crashed hard after bolts broke in his handlebar stem, Gwin knew that he had his first World Cup victory.

With his win, Gwin became the first American man to win a World Cup since 1999 (Shaun Palmer was the last at Big Bear). Gwin revealed that he has been training with the legendary John Tomac, and it appears to have paid off.

"Honestly, coming into this weekend, I didn't think I could do it," said Gwin. "The track was just clicking, and I felt really good all weekend, and it just came down to the pedalling."

"I thought that if I could just go hard at the top and the bottom I was probably fit enough to hold onto it in the middle, and it worked out," said Gwin. "I was surprised at the gap when I came down. It was a pretty loose run, but it was everything I had. It was on the edge, I hit a tree at the top, but I just tried to keep myself calm and hold it together, but there were some sketchy moments. I'm stoked, I'm just speechless."

Fabian Barel (Mondraker Factory Team) earned the fourth podium spot ahead of Steve Peat (Santa Cruz Syndicate) in fifth.

Junior downhill world champion Troy Brosnan (Monster Energy/Specialized/Mad Catz) of Australia won the junior men's race.  He clocked the 23rd fastest time among the elites.

Full Results (* indicates junior riders)

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing0:04:08.634
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:00.241
3Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal0:00:01.921
4Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:04.246
5Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:06.809
6Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing0:00:06.934
7Marc Beaumont (GBr)0:00:07.237
8Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:07.399
9Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 110:00:07.965
10Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:08.281
11Bryn Atkinson (Aus)0:00:08.371
12Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International0:00:08.502
13Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:08.549
14Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:09.022
15Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof0:00:09.132
16Cédric Gracia (Fra) CG Racing Brigade0:00:09.809
17Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride0:00:10.167
18Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek0:00:10.609
19Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:10.852
20Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal0:00:10.853
21Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International0:00:10.995
22Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:11.049
23Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:11.354
24Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:11.376
25Romain Paulhan (Fra)0:00:11.420
26Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Evil Racing0:00:11.425
27Brook Macdonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing0:00:11.806
28Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:11.943
29Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:12.232
30Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing0:00:12.810
31Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:12.916
32Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc/Solid/Massif Des Vosges0:00:13.071
33Florent Payet (Fra) SC-Intense0:00:13.667
34Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:13.730
35Bernard Kerr (GBr) Wallner Robin0:00:14.082
36Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W-Racing0:00:14.096
37Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain0:00:14.968
38Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof0:00:15.158
39Mitchell Delfs (Aus)0:00:15.377
40Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride0:00:15.627
41Ben Cathro (GBr) Spagnolo Damien0:00:15.696
42Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:15.839
43Richard Thomas (GBr)0:00:15.982
44Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:16.017
45Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride0:00:16.056
46Joshua Button (Aus) SC-Intense0:00:16.294
47Mitch Ropelato (USA)0:00:16.595
48Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing0:00:16.903
49Alex Bond (GBr)0:00:17.425
50Marcel Beer (Swi)0:00:17.435
51Emanuel Pombo (Por)0:00:17.934
52Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team0:00:18.289
53Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 110:00:18.405
54Jonty Neethling (RSA)0:00:19.692
55Johann Potgieter (RSA)0:00:20.534
56Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)0:00:20.677
57Curtis Keene (USA)0:00:21.430
58Hayden Brown (RSA)0:00:22.359
59Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:22.654
60Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:22.688
61Scott Mears (GBr)0:00:23.147
62Thomas Jeandin (Swi)0:00:24.451
63Lars Peyer (Swi) SC-Intense0:00:24.831
64Fraser Mcglone* (GBr)0:00:26.043
65Daniel Pombo (Por)0:00:26.995
66Kelvin Purchase (RSA)0:00:28.688
67Chris Hutchens (GBr)0:00:28.900
68Tiaan Odendaal* (RSA)0:00:29.700
69Fergus Lamb (GBr)0:00:30.123
70Francesco Petrucci (Ita)0:00:30.558
71Roman Roschi (Swi)0:00:30.867
72Oscar Harnstrom (Swe)0:00:31.068
73Arthur Parret* (Fra) Passion Velo Thiers Stemtee0:00:32.375
74Jérôme Payet (Fra)0:00:35.547
75Charly Di Pasquale (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:40.691
76Mathias Haas (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria0:00:45.282
77Daniel Critchlow (GBr)0:00:45.525
78Travis Browning (RSA)0:03:06.284
DNFGeorge Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing
DNFMichael Hannah (Aus)
DNSBrendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz
DNSAlexander Kangas (Swe)

World Cup standings

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing218pts
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate200
3Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal162
4Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team145
5Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate110
6Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing104
7Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz102
8Nick Beer (Swi) SCott 1194
9Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre92
10Marc Beaumont (GBr)90
11Cédric Gracia (Fra) CG Racing Brigade90
12Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate86
13Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team83
14Bryn Atkinson (Aus)80
15Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride76
16Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team70
17Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International69
18Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal69
19Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team68
20Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof66
21Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek63
22Markus Pekoll (Aut) Ms Evil Racing62
23Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International60
24Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team59
25Brook Macdonald (NZl) Ms Evil Racing59
26Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing59
27Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz58
28Romain Paulhan (Fra)56
29Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing52
30Filip Polc (Svk) Ms Evil Racing51
31Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team50
32Michael Hannah (Aus)50
33Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc/Solid/Massif Des Vosges49
34Florent Payet (Fra) SC-Intense48
35Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre47
36Bernard Kerr (GBr)46
37Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W-Racing45
38Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain44
39Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof43
40Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona42
41Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride41
42Ben Cathro (GBr)40
43Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team39
44Richard Thomas (GBr)38
45Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team37
46Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride36
47Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team36
48Joshua Button (Aus) SC-Intense35
49Mitch Ropelato (USA)34
50Luke Strobel (USA) Ms Evil Racing33
51Alex Bond (GBr)32
52Marcel Beer (Swi)31
53Emanuel Pombo (Por)30
54Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team29
55Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) SCott 1128
56Jonty Neethling (RSA)27
57Johann Potgieter (RSA)26
58Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)25
59Curtis Keene (USA)24
60Hayden Brown (RSA)23
61Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team22
62Scott Mears (GBr)20
63Thomas Jeandin (Swi)19
64Lars Peyer (Swi) SC-Intense18
65Fraser Mcglone* (GBr)17
66Daniel Pombo (Por)16
67Kelvin Purchase (RSA)15
68Chris Hutchens (GBr)14
69Tiaan Odendaal* (RSA)13
70Fergus Lamb (GBr)12
71Francesco Petrucci (Ita) Team Cingolani Trek11
72Roman Roschi (Swi)10
73Oscar Harnstrom (Swe)9
74Arthur Parret* (Fra) Passion Velo Thiers Stemtee8
75Jérôme Payet (Fra)7
76Charly Di Pasquale (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team6
77Mathias Haas (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria5
78Daniel Critchlow (GBr)4
79Travis Browning (RSA)3

Downhill team World Cup standings after one round
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Santa Cruz Syndicate84pts
2Trek World Racing83
3Team GR65
4Scott 1162
5Mondraker Factory Team37
6Commencal32
7Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz31
8Lapierre International29
9Team Maxxis-Rocky Mountain26
10Devinci Global Racing26
11Giant Factory Off-Road Team26
12Team Morzine-Avoriaz/Haute-Savoie20
13Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team18
14Madison Saracen16
15Chain Reaction Cycles/Nukeproof16
16Cg Racing Brigade15
17Morewood Unitedride14
18Team Cingolani Trek13
19Alpine Commencal Austria12
20Team Sunn Montgenevre12
21Riding Addiction Commencal11
22MS Evil Racing10
23SC-Intense6

 

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