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Minnaar edges Atherton in La Bresse

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Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took his second win of the season.

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took his second win of the season. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Top Team, Trek World Racing

Top Team, Trek World Racing (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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View down the course.

View down the course. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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It is a narrow and technical course.

It is a narrow and technical course. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) locked up the overall.

Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) locked up the overall. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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World Cup leader Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing)

World Cup leader Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Men's podium: Barel, Atherton, Minnaar, Gwin, Cole

Men's podium: Barel, Atherton, Minnaar, Gwin, Cole (Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing) finished 7th and moved up to 4th overall.

Steve Smith (Devinci Global Racing) finished 7th and moved up to 4th overall. (Image credit: Tour of Japan)

Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took his second win of the season at La Bresse, France, in round six of the UCI Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup. However, it was not enough to stop Aaron Gwin (Trek World Racing) from locking up the men's World Cup overall title with a third place, an impressive feat with one race still remaining in the series. Gee Atherton (Commencal) took second on the day.

The men started with the same course-drying conditions as the women, and the first rider on the course, Tim Bentley (Morewood United Ride), set the first fast, sub-2:20 time. He was bumped a few riders later by Brit Greg Williamson, before Sam Dale (Sunn Montgenevre) took a more significant 3.2 seconds off the lead, to drop it to 2:16.100.

Harry Heath (Junior Tools) scrubbed a tenth of a second off, but it was Britain's Ben Cathro who set what would prove to be the first top-ten time, and spend much of the race in the Hot Seat. Cathro was aided by intermittent rain, heavy at times, that made some drying dirt sections slippery again, forcing riders to navigate more cautiously than riders that went down earlier in the seeding.

Cathro stayed on top through 34 riders before Justin Leov (Trek World Racing) finally displaced him by 0.414 seconds. Leov was immediately pushed out of the top spot one rider later by Marc Beaumont (GT). It was a certainty that the next rider down, Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate), was about to bump Beaumont when he crashed spectacularly in sight of the finish line. Bryceland, using flat pedals, was over a half a second faster at the second split, but just before the final jump his right foot slipped off his pedal and he went tumbling.

Fabien Barel (Mondraker), the two-time world champion and French favourite, managed to recover from a near crash at the top of the course, and slip-slid his way through the mud to finish 0.675 seconds ahead of Beaumont and move into the hot seat, which he held through Andrew Neethling (Giant) and Cam Cole (Lapierre), before Minnaar came down the track.

Minnaar had qualified a relatively slow fifth, but was on fire for his final run. The South African was near flawless, avoiding the slide-outs that cost others time, while still managing to throw in pedal strokes where others were coasting. He came flying across the line nearly 3.5 seconds faster than Barel, setting the first sub-2:10 time of the day.

Minnaar's teammate Steve Peat rode next, with a time that was initially good enough for fifth in the final standings. However, the Brit had slid off course on the wet grass near the top, sliding through the tape on one side of a pole and then back in on the other side. It wasn't intentional, and didn't offer him any advantage, but was enough to subsequently disqualify him.

It was down to the final three riders, with Gee Atherton looking at upsetting Minnaar after recording the fastest split of the day at the upper half of the course. However, he slowed significantly through the tight, twisty middle section, to finish 0.459 seconds behind Minnaar at the line. Canada's Steve Smith (Devinci) could not repeat his second place run from qualifying and finished seventh, leaving only World Cup leader Gwin to ride.

From the start, it was clear that Gwin was not showing the dominating form that he has had all season, four-tenths of a second back at the first split and almost two seconds back at the second split. He lost another half a second by the finish line, but it was good enough for third, and locked up the World Cup title, with an insurmountable lead of 310 points over Minnaar. Gee Atherton remains third, a further 151 points back.

"After I crashed at Mont-Sainte-Anne, I wasn't carrying a lot of confidence through Windham," said Minnaar. "So I went to Santa Cruz [California] and spent three weeks getting ready for this last trip. I felt bit discouraged being beat by Aaron by so much in the qualies, so after practice this morning I went back to my room and just hung out by myself and just really thought about the run that I needed to put together if I was to have any chance to win this race.

"I ran into a lot of mud spray at the top, and I was being somewhat cautious, so I didn't think it was enough to win, but I guess I kept it smooth, and I guess that was enough to win. It's awesome to do that. It was just a great weekend, with a great crowd and a great atmosphere."

Race notes

- Minnaar's win was his 52nd podium appearance, tying him with teammate Steve Peat for the most (Peat would have gotten his 53rd if he hadn't been DQ'd).

- Fabien Barel (Mondraker Factory Team) announced that he will retire at the end of this season, following the World Cup Final (Val di Sole, Italy, in two weeks) and the world championships in Champery, Switzerland. Barel, who won back-to-back elite world titles in 11 years of World Cup competition plus a junior world title, has been battling injuries over the past few seasons, including riding at times with a leg brace, so, while it will be sad to see the cheerful Frenchman leave, it is not totally unexpected.

Full Results
1Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:02:09.611
2Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal0:00:00.459
3Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:02.429
4Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:03.473
5Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International0:00:03.979
6Marc Beaumont (GBr)0:00:04.148
7Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing0:00:04.390
8Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:05.003
9Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing0:00:05.196
10Ben Cathro (GBr)0:00:05.610
11Brook MacDonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing0:00:05.694
12Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:05.862
13Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:06.020
14Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride0:00:06.182
15Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof0:00:06.223
16Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:06.381
17Michael Hannah (Aus)0:00:06.385
18Harry Heath (GBr) Unior Tools Team0:00:06.394
19Alex Bond (GBr)0:00:06.481
20Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:06.489
21Lewis Buchanan* (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof0:00:06.508
22Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges0:00:07.091
23Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing0:00:07.095
24Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof0:00:07.243
25Bernard Kerr (GBr)0:00:07.309
26Ben Reid (Irl) Dirt Norco Race Team0:00:07.337
27Adam Brayton (GBr)0:00:07.550
28Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spa)0:00:07.623
29Eliot Jackson (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:07.824
30Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz0:00:07.979
31Loic Bruni* (Fra) Lapierre International0:00:08.005
32Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) CG Racing Brigade0:00:08.258
33Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:08.322
34Marcus Klausmann (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team0:00:08.350
35Nico Vink (Bel) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges0:00:08.413
36Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 110:00:08.494
37Joshua Button (Aus) SC - Intense0:00:08.642
38Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Evil Racing0:00:08.680
39Joris Bigoni (Fra)0:00:09.228
40Dan Atherton (GBr) Commencal0:00:09.380
41George Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing0:00:09.394
42Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek0:00:09.549
43Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing0:00:09.624
44Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona0:00:09.625
45Greg Williamson (GBr)0:00:09.681
46Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride0:00:09.822
47Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride0:00:09.910
48Jack Reading (GBr)0:00:10.105
49Marco Milivinti (Ita) Torpado Surfing Shop0:00:10.107
50Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing0:00:10.419
51Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain0:00:10.429
52Mark Scott* (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain0:00:10.942
53Fergus Lamb (GBr)0:00:11.057
54Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate0:00:11.310
55Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 110:00:11.548
56Felix Beckeman (Swe)0:00:12.145
57Oscar Harnstrom (Swe)0:00:12.399
58Joe Barnes (GBr)0:00:12.413
59Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof0:00:12.707
60Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team0:00:12.755
61Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team0:00:13.135
62Ralph Jones (GBr)0:00:13.167
63Boris Tetzlaff (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria0:00:13.244
64Rudy Cabirou* (Fra)0:00:13.366
65Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team0:00:13.388
66Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spa)0:00:13.896
67Isak Leivsson* (Nor)0:00:14.166
68Benny Strasser (Ger)0:00:14.495
69Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre0:00:15.399
70Jasper Jauch (Ger)0:00:15.551
71Peter Williams (GBr)0:00:15.666
72Scott Mears (GBr)0:00:17.199
73Ludovic Oget* (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team0:00:17.223
74Romain Contreres* (Fra) US Cagnes VTT0:00:18.340
75Robert Smith (GBr)0:00:18.923
76Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team0:00:19.527
77Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)0:00:19.888
78Benjamin Staehle* (Fra)0:00:20.243
79Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal0:00:46.581
80Claudio Cozzi (Ita)0:00:50.038
DSQSteve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate
DNSSamuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International

UCI World Cup Downhill standings after round 6
1Aaron Gwin (USA) Trek World Racing1308pts
2Greg Minnaar (RSA) Santa Cruz Syndicate998
3Gee Atherton (GBr) Commencal847
4Steve Smith (Can) Devinci Global Racing732
5Danny Hart (GBr) Giant Factory Off-Road Team689
6Brook MacDonald (NZl) MS Evil Racing640
7Cameron Cole (NZl) Lapierre International552
8Justin Leov (NZl) Trek World Racing552
9Steve Peat (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate548
10Josh Bryceland (GBr) Santa Cruz Syndicate539
11Fabien Barel (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team526
12Marc Beaumont (GBr)492
13Samuel Blenkinsop (NZl) Lapierre International478
14Troy Brosnan* (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz475
15Andrew Neethling (RSA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team391
16Cédric Gracia (Fra) CG Racing Brigade366
17Damien Spagnolo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team359
18Luke Strobel (USA) MS Evil Racing345
19Matthew Scoles (NZl) Team Cingolani Trek341
20Mickael Pascal (Fra) Morewood Unitedride321
21Samuel Hill (Aus) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz315
22Markus Pekoll (Aut) MS Evil Racing307
23Michael Hannah (Aus)304
24Pierre Charles Georges (Fra) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges304
25Matti Lehikoinen (Fin) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof301
26Julien Camellini (Fra) Team Sunn Montgenevre299
27Ruaridh Cunningham (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain298
28Filip Polc (Svk) MS Evil Racing275
29Ben Cathro (GBr)264
30Rémi Thirion (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team259
31Neko Mulally* (USA) Trek World Racing255
32Joseph Smith (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof248
33Brendan Fairclough (GBr) Monster Energy / Specialized / Mad Catz247
34Florent Payet (Fra) SC - Intense246
35Fabien Pedemanaud (Fra) Scott 11239
36Ben Reid (Irl) Dirt Norco Race Team236
37Sam Dale (GBr) Team Sunn Montgenevre233
38Lewis Buchanan* (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof231
39Duncan Riffle (USA) Giant Factory Off-Road Team228
40Romain Paulhan (Fra)226
41Harry Heath (GBr) Unior Tools Team223
42Fabien Cousinie (Fra) Morewood Unitedride222
43Nick Beer (Swi) Scott 11220
44Shaun O'Connor (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team220
45Loic Bruni* (Fra) Lapierre International215
46Robin Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W - Racing213
47Joshua Button (Aus) SC - Intense208
48Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Col) CG Racing Brigade204
49Mitchell Delfs (Aus) Kona192
50Matthew Simmonds (GBr) Chain Reaction Cycles / Nukeproof187
51Nico Vink (Bel) Team Lac Blanc / Solid / Massif Des Vosges181
52Thibaut Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal177
53Dan Stanbridge (GBr) Dirt Norco Race Team171
54Mitch Ropelato (USA)153
55Patrick Thome (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team146
56Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spa)144
57George Brannigan (NZl) Devinci Global Racing141
58Mark Scott* (GBr) Team Maxxis - Rocky Mountain139
59Alex Bond (GBr)138
60Adam Brayton (GBr)137
61Boris Tetzlaff (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria126
62Lorenzo Suding (Ita)120
63Dan Atherton (GBr) Commencal120
64Greg Williamson (GBr)116
65Fergus Lamb (GBr)115
66Timothy Bentley (RSA) Morewood Unitedride109
67Thomas Braithwaite (GBr)104
68Bernard Kerr (GBr)102
69Matej Charvat (Cze)97
70Marcus Klausmann (Ger) Ghost Factory Racing Team94
71Oscar Harnstrom (Swe)83
72Bryn Atkinson (Aus)80
73Kyle Sangers* (Can)80
74Curtis Keene (USA)80
75Emanuel Pombo (Por)72
76Aurélien Giordanengo (Fra) Mondraker Factory Team70
77Jared Graves (Aus) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team68
78Dean Tennant (Can)68
79Antonio Ferreiro Pajuelo (Spa)67
80Jack Reading (GBr)65
81Nejc Rutar (Slo) Unior Tools Team64
82Scott Mears (GBr)64
83Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spa)62
84Austin Warren* (USA)58
85Richard Thomas (GBr)57
86Connor Fearon* (Aus) Kona57
87Eliot Jackson (USA) Yeti Fox Shox Factory Race Team55
88Johann Potgieter (RSA)53
89Benny Strasser (Ger)52
90Joris Bigoni (Fra)50
91Ralph Jones (GBr)49
92Florian Arthus (Fra)48
93Wyn Masters (NZl) MS Evil Racing47
94Marco Milivinti (Ita) Torpado Surfing Shop40
95Lars Peyer (Swi) SC - Intense40
96Thomas Jeandin (Swi)36
97Will Rischbieth (Aus)35
98Harry Molloy (GBr) Madison Saracen35
99Joe Barnes (GBr)34
100Marcel Beer (Swi)31
101Cody Warren (USA)29
102Chris Del Bosco (Can)29
103Oliver Burton (GBr)28
104Gavin Vaughan (USA)27
105Jonty Neethling (RSA)27
106Alexander Kangas (Swe)26
107Yann Gauvin (Can)25
108Felix Beckeman (Swe)25
109Dominik Gspan (Swi)25
110Gaetan Ruffin (Fra) Riding Addiction Commencal25
111Gareth Brewin (GBr)23
112Hayden Brown (RSA)23
113Simon Cardon (Fra) Xcytt Racing22
114Remi Gauvin (Can)22
115Robert Smith (GBr)18
116Fraser McGlone* (GBr)17
117Rudy Cabirou* (Fra)17
118Daniel Pombo (Por)16
119Hans Lambert (Can)15
120Kelvin Purchase (RSA)15
121Charly Di Pasquale (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team15
122Ziga Pandur (Slo) Unior Tools Team14
123Chris Hutchens (GBr)14
124Isak Leivsson* (Nor)14
125Tiaan Odendaal* (RSA)13
126Matt Zdriluk (Can)12
127Jasper Jauch (Ger)11
128Seanan O'Riordan (Irl)11
129Francesco Danilo Petrucci (Ita) Team Cingolani Trek11
130Hajime Imoto (Jpn)11
131Peter Williams (GBr)10
132Roman Roschi (Swi)10
133Logan Binggeli (USA)10
134Ludovic Oget* (Fra) Labyrinth Shimano Racing Team8
135Arthur Parret* (Fra) Passion Velo Thiers Stemtee8
136Yuki Kushima* (Jpn)8
137Christopher Mcglinchey* (Irl)8
138Romain Contreres* (Fra) US Cagnes VTT7
139Jérôme Payet (Fra)7
140Rob Fraser (Can)6
141Daniel Sims (NZl)6
142Mathias Haas (Aut) Alpine Commencal Austria5
143Mathieu Gallean (Fra) Ryde - Racing5
144Cyrille Kurtz (Fra) CK Racing Santacruz4
145Daniel Critchlow (GBr)4
146Adam Vagner (Cze)3
147Benjamin Staehle* (Fra)3
148Niklas Wallner (Swe) Team Are Bikepark Powered By W - Racing3
149Travis Browning (RSA)3
150Claudio Cozzi (Ita)1

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