Skip to main content

Gwin back on top with downhill win at Pietermaritzburg World Cup

Image 1 of 14

Aaron Gwin (Specialized Racing DH)

Aaron Gwin (Specialized Racing DH)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
Image 2 of 14

Sam Dale (Madison Saracen Factory Team)

Sam Dale (Madison Saracen Factory Team)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
Image 3 of 14

Gee Atherton (GT Factory Racing)

Gee Atherton (GT Factory Racing)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
Image 4 of 14

Elite Men's Downhill World Cup leader: Aaron Gwin

Elite Men's Downhill World Cup leader: Aaron Gwin
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
Image 5 of 14

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
Image 6 of 14

Michael Hannah (Hutchinson UR)

Michael Hannah (Hutchinson UR)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
Image 7 of 14

Hometown hero Greg Minnaar spends some time with tomorrow's stars after he finished third in the elite men's downhill

Hometown hero Greg Minnaar spends some time with tomorrow's stars after he finished third in the elite men's downhill
(Image credit: Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media)
Image 8 of 14

Francesco Colombo of Gravitalia Squadra Corse flys high during the elite men's downhill

Francesco Colombo of Gravitalia Squadra Corse flys high during the elite men's downhill
(Image credit: Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media)
Image 9 of 14

Hutchinson UR's Mick Hannah was once again narrowly edged out into second place in the elite men's downhill

Hutchinson UR's Mick Hannah was once again narrowly edged out into second place in the elite men's downhill
(Image credit: Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media)
Image 10 of 14

Hometown hero and World Champion Greg Minnaar of Santa Cruz Syndicate finished in a commendable third place in the elite men's downhill

Hometown hero and World Champion Greg Minnaar of Santa Cruz Syndicate finished in a commendable third place in the elite men's downhill
(Image credit: Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media)
Image 11 of 14

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate)
(Image credit: Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media)
Image 12 of 14

Aaron Gwin of Specialized Racing DH was unstoppable as he claimed first place in the elite men's downhill in Pietermaritzburg and took the early advantage in the 2014 UCI World Cup

Aaron Gwin of Specialized Racing DH was unstoppable as he claimed first place in the elite men's downhill in Pietermaritzburg and took the early advantage in the 2014 UCI World Cup
(Image credit: Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media)
Image 13 of 14

Specialized Racing DH's Aaron Gwin soared to victory in the elite men's downhill clash at the 2014 UCI World Cup

Specialized Racing DH's Aaron Gwin soared to victory in the elite men's downhill clash at the 2014 UCI World Cup
(Image credit: Darren Goddard / Gameplan Media)
Image 14 of 14

Elite men's World Cup downhill podium: L to R - Loic Bruni, Michael Hannah, Aaron Gwin, Greg Minnaar, Troy Brosnan

Elite men's World Cup downhill podium: L to R - Loic Bruni, Michael Hannah, Aaron Gwin, Greg Minnaar, Troy Brosnan
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)

Former downhill World Cup Aaron Gwin got his 2014 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup season underway in perfect fashion when he claimed a thrilling victory in the elite men's downhill final of the Pietermaritzburg leg at Cascades MTB Park on Saturday.

Last down the hill after winning the qualifying round on Friday, the Specialized Racing DH star charged to the top of the leaderboard early on in his run and never looked back as he surged ahead of title hopeful Mick Hannah (Hutchinson UR) and hometown hero Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate).

"I'm just happy, really stoked. It is definitely a team win!" said Gwin."The race was great this year! The track was good, the fans - as always - down here are great! I love racing here!

"We felt good all weekend. From the first practice run I was happy, I like the changes they made to the course and the bike was working, I was working, everything felt good. I knew from the first day that I had a win in me if I could put down my best run but that is a lot easier said than done. Qualifying went well and we just tried to keep the ball rolling.

"I am happy for Mick (Hannah), happy for Troy (Brosnan) and it was an amazing ride for Greg (Minnaar) to get back after his knee and still get on the podium," he said.

Hannah, having suffered a mechanical in qualifying and so started some way down the list in the finals, demolished the previous best time of the day set by South Africa's Andrew Neethling's (Giant Factory Off-road Team) by more than eight seconds to power into the hot seat.

With just Minnaar, Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) and Gwin left to start their runs, Hannah's nerves were clear for all to see as he looked to go one better than the result he achieved at the same course at the 2013 Worlds.

A charging Minnaar however appeared to have the better of his Australian rival in the first two sectors. A slow final sector by the defending world champ and a top section mishap by Bryceland saw Hannah maintain his position he'd already for for a remarkable 18 riders.

That was until Gwin decided to get in on the act though as the American hero strung together the perfect final run to become the only person to break the four minute mark and, in the process, edge Hannah and Minnaar into second and third respectively.

Minnaar, having won both the 2012 World Cup and 2013 world champs in his own back yard, put in a dream performance given he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the final leg of the 2013 World Cup in Austria late last year and was satisfied with the outcome.

"I was really nervous up top, I wasn't super comfortable riding all the technical stuff. I haven't had a lot of time on my bike since my surgery so I just tried to suss things out beforehand and then just relax as much as I could before my run," said Minnaar.

"I had a really good run up top and I survived but, given the condition I'm in and a lack of time on the bike, I'm still really happy with my third place!

"The top section hadn't blown up that much but I just couldn't get that stretch right all week. It was really tricky, the rocks are placed really awkwardly and we were hitting our back wheel a lot so I was just super nervous and had a bit of a lack of confidence. I hit it really well in my final though so I was stoked!

"I really had a good final run and I lay it all out on the track. I'm just really thankful for all the people coming out and supporting me again, it's incredible to see all the support," he added.

Lapierre Gravity Republic's charging young star Loic Bruni crossed the line in fourth with and Gwin's Specialized Racing DH's team mate Troy Brosnan fifth with the likes of Gee Atherton, Nick Beer and Josh Bryceland all suffering mishaps or crashes which hampered their performances.

With his win, Gwin became the first World Cup series leader of 2014, resuming where he left off back in 2012.

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Specialized Racing DH0:03:59.300
2Michael Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson UR0:00:02.037
3Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:02.824
4Loic Bruni (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic0:00:02.893
5Troy Brosnan (Aus) Specialized Racing DH0:00:03.331
6Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre Gravity Republic0:00:04.043
7Sam Dale (GBr) Madison Saracen Factory Team0:00:06.003
8Neko Mulally (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:06.361
9Samuel Hill (Aus) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof0:00:06.851
10Gee Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing0:00:06.899
11Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:06.964
12Cameron Cole (NZl) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:07.867
13Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Madison Saracen Factory Team0:00:09.133
14Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Mondraker Team0:00:09.460
15Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Hutchinson UR0:00:09.848
16Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:09.924
17Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:10.896
18Guillaume Cauvin (Fra) Hutchinson UR0:00:11.021
19Marc Beaumont (GBr) GT Factory Racing0:00:11.296
20Rémi Thirion (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:11.563
21Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Unior Tools Team0:00:11.827
22George Brannigan (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:11.925
23Bryn Atkinson (Aus)0:00:12.080
23Damien Spagnolo (Fra) MS Mondraker Team
25Connor Fearon (Aus) Kona Factory Team0:00:12.314
26Lorenzo Suding (Ita)0:00:12.537
27Patrick Thome (Fra) Gstaad-Scott0:00:12.667
28Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:13.090
29Nick Beer (Swi) Devinci Global Racing0:00:13.143
30Ziga Pandur (Slo) Unior Tools Team0:00:13.632
31Isak Leivsson (Nor)0:00:13.653
32Greg Williamson (GBr) Trek World Racing0:00:13.673
33Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Lac Blanc/Scott0:00:13.984
34Harry Heath (GBr) Orange Dirt World Team, O'neal0:00:14.450
35Brook Macdonald (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:14.531
36Tomas Slavik (Cze)0:00:15.384
37Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Gstaad-Scott0:00:15.422
38Faustin Figaret (Fra) Commencal0:00:15.571
39Florent Payet (Fra) Evil Vengeance Tour0:00:15.586
40Jack Reading (GBr) SC Intense0:00:15.722
41Bernard Kerr (GBr) Pivot Factory DH Team0:00:15.872
42Adam Brayton (GBr)0:00:16.024
43Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:16.434
44Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa) Evil Vengeance Tour0:00:16.619
45Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:16.860
46Jack Moir (Aus) Bergamont Hayes World Team0:00:16.891
47Matthew Walker (NZl) Banshee Bikes Factory Team0:00:17.033
48Timothy Bentley (RSA)0:00:17.048
49Dean Lucas (Aus) Devinci Global Racing0:00:17.085
50Wyn Masters (NZl) Team Bulls - DH0:00:17.243
51Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof0:00:17.490
52Eliot Jackson (USA) Pivot Factory DH Team0:00:19.337
53Stefan Garlicki (RSA)0:00:19.943
54Francisco Pardal (Por)0:00:20.216
55Tiaan Odendaal (RSA)0:00:20.893
56Joseph Connell (GBr) SC Intense0:00:21.080
57Samuel Bull (RSA)0:00:21.981
58Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Hutchinson UR0:00:22.715
59Jasper Jauch (Ger)0:00:23.089
60Matej Charvat (Cze) Banshee Bikes Factory Team0:00:23.169
61Charly Di Pasquale (Fra)0:00:24.646
62Mario José Jarrin Molina (Ecu)0:00:25.089
63Alexandre Fayolle (Fra)0:00:25.249
64Jonty Neethling (RSA)0:00:25.480
65Brent Smith (Aus)0:00:26.785
66Zakarias Blom Johansen (Nor)0:00:26.802
67Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction0:00:30.084
68Chris Barlin (Aus) Green To Gold Race Development0:00:32.136
69Mathew Stuttard (GBr)0:00:32.174
70Jono Jones (GBr)0:00:32.706
71Josh Lowe (GBr)0:00:32.801
72Francesco Colombo (Ita) Gravitalia Squadra Corse0:00:32.985
73Alasdair Fey (RSA)0:00:33.802
74Kazuki Shimizu (Jpn) Madison Saracen Factory Team0:00:34.373
75Travis Browning (RSA)0:00:35.772
76Peter Williams (GBr)0:01:00.511
77Johannes Fischbach (Ger) Rrp Ghost0:01:16.797
78Harry Molloy (GBr) Rrp Ghost0:02:11.779
DNFCyrille Kurtz (Fra) Evil Vengeance Tour

Teams
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Madison Saracen Factory Team82pts
2Lapierre Gravity Republic78
3Hutchinson UR71
4Specialized Racing DH68
5GT Factory Racing68
6Commencal / Riding Addiction56
7Santa Cruz Syndicate47
8Giant Factory Off-Road Team37
9Trek World Racing32
10Ms Mondraker Team25
11Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof22
12Fmd Racing18
13Gstaad-Scott18
14Evil Vengeance Tour16
15Unior Tools Team11
16Green To Gold Race Development10
17Pivot Factory DH Team9
18Kona Factory Team6
19Devinci Global Racing2

Elite men World Cup standings after round 1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Specialized Racing DH250pts
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate170
3Michael Hannah (Aus) Hutchinson UR160
4Loic Bruni (Fra) Lapierre Gravity Republic150
5Troy Brosnan (Aus) Specialized Racing DH130
6Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre Gravity Republic117
7Sam Dale (GBr) Madison Saracen Factory Team105
8Neko Mulally (USA) Trek World Racing103
9Samuel Hill (Aus) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof96
10Gee Atherton (GBr) GT Factory Racing85
11Cameron Cole (NZl) Commencal / Riding Addiction82
12Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Madison Saracen Factory Team82
13Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) Giant Factory Off-Road Team79
14Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Mondraker Team79
15Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate78
16Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate73
17Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Hutchinson UR71
18Marc Beaumont (GBr) GT Factory Racing69
19Nick Beer (Swi) Devinci Global Racing69
20Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team64
21Guillaume Cauvin (Fra) Hutchinson UR63
22Rémi Thirion (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction61
23Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Unior Tools Team60
24George Brannigan (NZl) Trek World Racing59
25Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team59
26Bryn Atkinson (Aus)58
27Damien Spagnolo (Fra) MS Mondraker Team58
28Connor Fearon (Aus) Kona Factory Team56
29Lorenzo Suding (Ita)55
30Patrick Thome (Fra) Gstaad-Scott54
31Ziga Pandur (Slo) Unior Tools Team51
32Isak Leivsson (Nor)50
33Greg Williamson (GBr) Trek World Racing49
34Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Lac Blanc/Scott48
35Harry Heath (GBr) Orange Dirt World Team, O'neal47
36Brook Macdonald (NZl) Trek World Racing46
37Tomas Slavik (Cze)45
38Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Gstaad-Scott44
39Faustin Figaret (Fra) Commencal43
40Florent Payet (Fra) Evil Vengeance Tour42
41Jack Reading (GBr) SC Intense41
42Bernard Kerr (GBr) Pivot Factory DH Team40
43Adam Brayton (GBr)39
44Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa) Evil Vengeance Tour37
45Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction36
46Jack Moir (Aus) Bergamont Hayes World Team35
47Matthew Walker (NZl) Banshee Bikes Factory Team34
48Timothy Bentley (RSA)33
49Dean Lucas (Aus) Devinci Global Racing32
50Wyn Masters (NZl) Team Bulls - DH31
51Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof30
52Eliot Jackson (USA) Pivot Factory DH Team29
53Stefan Garlicki (RSA)28
54Francisco Pardal (Por)27
55Tiaan Odendaal (RSA)26
56Joseph Connell (GBr) SC Intense25
57Samuel Bull (RSA)24
58Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Hutchinson UR23
59Jasper Jauch (Ger)22
60Matej Charvat (Cze) Banshee Bikes Factory Team21
61Charly Di Pasquale (Fra)20
62Mario José Jarrin Molina (Ecu)19
63Alexandre Fayolle (Fra)18
64Jonty Neethling (RSA)17
65Brent Smith (Aus)16
66Zakarias Blom Johansen (Nor)15
67Johannes Fischbach (Ger) Rrp Ghost15
68Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Commencal / Riding Addiction14
69Chris Barlin (Aus) Green To Gold Race Development13
70Mathew Stuttard (GBr)12
71Jono Jones (GBr)11
72Josh Lowe (GBr)10
73Francesco Colombo (Ita) Gravitalia Squadra Corse9
74Alasdair Fey (RSA)8
75Kazuki Shimizu (Jpn) Madison Saracen Factory Team7
76Travis Browning (RSA)6
77Peter Williams (GBr)5
78Harry Molloy (GBr) Rrp Ghost3

Team World Cup standings
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Madison Saracen Factory Team82pts
2Lapierre Gravity Republic78
3Hutchinson UR71
4Specialized Racing DH68
5GT Factory Racing68
6Commencal / Riding Addiction56
7Santa Cruz Syndicate47
8Giant Factory Off-Road Team37
9Trek World Racing32
10Ms Mondraker Team25
11Chain Reaction Cycles.Com / Nukeproof22
12Fmd Racing18
13Gstaad-Scott18
14Evil Vengeance Tour16
15Unior Tools Team11
16Green To Gold Race Development10
17Pivot Factory DH Team9
18Kona Factory Team6
19Devinci Global Racing2

Latest on Cyclingnews