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Minnaar takes narrow victory in downhill world championships

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Greg Minnaar (South Africa)

Greg Minnaar (South Africa)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Steve Smith (Canada) almost loses it in the final corner

Steve Smith (Canada) almost loses it in the final corner
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Elite Men's podium: Gee Atherton (Great Britain), Greg Minnaar (South Africa), Steve Smith (Canada)

Elite Men's podium: Gee Atherton (Great Britain), Greg Minnaar (South Africa), Steve Smith (Canada)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Aaron Gwin (United States) rolls into the finish after a brake failure

Aaron Gwin (United States) rolls into the finish after a brake failure
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Gee Atherton (Great Britain)

Gee Atherton (Great Britain)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Damien Spagnolo (France)

Damien Spagnolo (France)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Marc Beaumont (Great Britain)

Marc Beaumont (Great Britain)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Michael Hannah (Australia)

Michael Hannah (Australia)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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The UCI presented Steve Peat (Great Britain) with a special rainbow jersey in honour of his 20th Worlds

The UCI presented Steve Peat (Great Britain) with a special rainbow jersey in honour of his 20th Worlds
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)
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Elite 2012 Downhill World Champs: Morgane Charre (France) and Greg Minnaar (South Africa)

Elite 2012 Downhill World Champs: Morgane Charre (France) and Greg Minnaar (South Africa)
(Image credit: Tour of Japan)

The men's race for the downhill world title in Leogang, Austria, had a dozen strong contenders, and South Africa's Greg Minnaar took a that victory came down to the wire.  Gee Atherton (Great Britain) was second, ahead of Steve Smith (Canada).

Australia's Bryn Atkinson set the first sub-3:30 time, with nearly 50 riders to go. Sam Dale (Great Britain) quickly took off three-tenths of a second and held the hot seat for 20 riders before he was replaced by Florent Payet (France), with a drop of two seconds in the lead time.

Australian Mick Hannah took the leading time below 3:24 with 10 riders to go, but was immediately replaced by Canada's Steve Smith, who was bumped by Gee Atherton (Great Britain) with two riders left to finish. Minnaar came in next, half a second ahead of Atherton, but everyone knew that the final rider, American Aaron Gwin, could quite easily upset the standings. Gwin has won an incredible nine World Cups in 13 races over the past two seasons, so everyone was waiting to see what he could do.

However, it became apparent early in his run that Gwin was suffering mechanical problems, eventually finishing a distant 83rd, after his front and rear brakes, in the words of the team manager, "exploded". Minnaar jumped to his feet from the hot seat as he was mobbed by well wishers, ecstatic to win his second world title.

"It's been nine years and this run it, was tough," said Minnaar. "I had a lot of pressure today, I was super nervous. To be honest, I tried to nail the top section and just after the bridge I lost a lot of speed, I had to pedal hard. But I held it together, in a way same as in the Pietermaritzburg World Cup earlier this season. I couldn't believe I crossed the line in first."

"I am a bit bummed for Gwinny, he seems to have had a mechanical. I am not sure what happened. It is not exactly the best way for me to win, or how I'd like to win, but we are all out there trying our best. We all have mechanicals from time to time, that's part of racing."

Third place finisher Smith said, "Everybody comes to world champs to win. I didn't win, but if I am not on top, I'd rather be on the podium. I've had silver and bronze, so hopefully the next one will be gold. The track was awesome – quite grippy as the sun was out all day. I can’t believe the crowd; I have been here twice now for World Cups and they didn’t even have half the crowd we’ve had today. There were people all the way down, it was full of people, so it made the race good."

Race notes

- Steve Peat (Great Britain) was participating in his 20th world championship in a row.  He was recognized for his achievement with a special jersey from the UCI.  After quite a fast split time, he was out of the title race because of an unfortunate crash on a berm. 

- Austrian rider Markus Pekoll rode to his first world championship top ten placing in his career (ninth).

- Justin Leov (New Zealand) was competing in the final race of his career. "For sure I was chasing a top 10 here. The course had dried up really well and I was looking forward to running at speed and getting a great result. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and I'll have to settle for 21st, but it has been an amazing run from Kaprun (Austria) in 2002, to these World Champs in Austria 10 years later."

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Greg Minnaar (South Africa)0:03:21.790
2Gee Atherton (Great Britain)0:00:00.581
3Steve Smith (Canada)0:00:01.214
4Michael Hannah (Australia)0:00:02.140
5Samuel Hill (Australia)0:00:03.406
6Damien Spagnolo (France)0:00:03.859
7Florent Payet (France)0:00:04.227
8Brook Macdonald (New Zealand)0:00:04.861
9Markus Pekoll (Austria)0:00:05.774
10Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas (Colombia)0:00:06.064
11Samuel Blenkinsop (New Zealand)0:00:06.375
12Sam Dale (Great Britain)0:00:06.504
13Bryn Atkinson (Australia)0:00:06.794
14Marc Beaumont (Great Britain)0:00:07.101
15Rémi Thirion (France)0:00:07.167
16Cameron Cole (New Zealand)0:00:07.283
17Johannes Fischbach (Germany)0:00:07.430
18Mitchell Delfs (Australia)0:00:07.980
18Andrew Neethling (South Africa)
20Joshua Button (Australia)0:00:08.198
21Justin Leov (New Zealand)0:00:08.534
22Luke Strobel (United States Of America)0:00:08.582
23Boris Tetzlaff (Austria)0:00:08.886
24Matthew Simmonds (Great Britain)0:00:08.904
25Lorenzo Suding (Italy)0:00:08.915
26George Brannigan (New Zealand)0:00:09.065
27Neko Mulally (United States Of America)0:00:09.713
28Lutz Weber (Switzerland)0:00:09.850
29Aurélien Giordanengo (France)0:00:10.062
30Robin Wallner (Sweden)0:00:10.240
31Mitch Ropelato (United States Of America)0:00:10.336
32Jared Graves (Australia)0:00:10.623
33Logan Binggeli (United States Of America)0:00:11.084
34Joseph Smith (Great Britain)0:00:11.099
35Mickael Pascal (France)0:00:11.925
36Steve Peat (Great Britain)0:00:11.971
37Lars Peyer (Switzerland)0:00:12.022
38Pierre Charles Georges (France)0:00:12.243
39Isak Leivsson (Norway)0:00:12.567
40Benny Strasser (Germany)0:00:12.646
41Slawomir Lukasik (Poland)0:00:12.692
42Johann Potgieter (South Africa)0:00:12.761
43Matthew Beer (Canada)0:00:12.823
44Filip Polc (Slovakia)0:00:13.139
45Francisco Pardal (Portugal)0:00:13.458
46Ben Reid (Ireland)0:00:14.315
47Andreas Sieber (Germany)0:00:15.528
48Kyle Sangers (Canada)0:00:15.724
49Niklas Wallner (Sweden)0:00:15.931
50Bernat Guardia Pascual (Spain)0:00:16.680
51Nick Beer (Switzerland)0:00:17.008
52Oscar Harnstrom (Sweden)0:00:17.095
53Fabian Fader (Germany)0:00:17.248
54Felix Wunderlich (Germany)0:00:18.117
55Ewan Doherty (Ireland)0:00:18.646
56Ziga Pandur (Slovenia)0:00:19.028
57Nejc Rutar (Slovenia)0:00:19.075
58Lukas Splichal (Czech Republic)0:00:19.093
59Attila Liszi (Hungary)0:00:20.056
60Carlo Gambirasio (Italy)0:00:20.944
61Eliot Jackson (United States Of America)0:00:21.962
62Matti Lehikoinen (Finland)0:00:22.593
63Ivan Oulego Moreno (Spain)0:00:23.041
64Arkadiusz Perin (Poland)0:00:23.275
65Duncan Riffle (United States Of America)0:00:23.436
66Rostislav Stencel (Czech Republic)0:00:23.609
67Andréa Gamenara (Italy)0:00:23.690
68Mathias Haas (Austria)0:00:24.098
69Greg Callaghan (Ireland)0:00:24.448
70Kazuki Shimizu (Japan)0:00:24.902
71Emanuel Pombo (Portugal)0:00:25.193
72Pietro Caire (Italy)0:00:26.066
73Jan Javornik (Slovakia)0:00:26.198
74Alvaro Hidalgo Vasquez (Costa Rica)0:00:26.278
75Josh Bryceland (Great Britain)0:00:26.763
76Lukas Ucen (Slovakia)0:00:27.034
77Tomas Liska (Slovakia)0:00:27.209
78Matej Laktis (Slovakia)0:00:27.485
79Remi Gauvin (Canada)0:00:27.688
80Pavel Cep (Czech Republic)0:00:27.945
81Edgar Carballo Gonzalez (Spain)0:00:28.228
82Marco Milivinti (Italy)0:00:29.010
83Aaron Gwin (United States Of America)0:00:30.538
84Lars Vatnebryn Sandviken (Norway)0:00:31.047
85Manuel Gruber (Austria)0:00:31.381
86Martin Messavilla (Italy)0:00:32.208
87Markus Planitzer (Austria)0:00:32.763
88Claudio Caluori (Switzerland)0:00:33.233
89Petr Tresnak (Czech Republic)0:00:33.937
90Petrik Jurs (Estonia)0:00:34.378
91Valentyn Popov (Ukraine)0:00:35.220
92Orlando Sarioglou (Greece)0:00:35.771
93Felipe Andres Saenz Anabalon (Chile)0:00:36.661
94Mario Reinbacher (Austria)0:00:37.491
95Miran Vauh (Slovenia)0:00:39.513
96Vladimir Pulaevskiy (Russian Federation)0:00:40.442
97Oleksiy Priymachek (Ukraine)0:00:41.959
98Bernardo Neves (Brazil)0:00:44.211
99Miklos Kantor (Hungary)0:00:46.015
100Adam Vagner (Czech Republic)0:00:48.037
101Berislav Topol (Croatia)0:00:48.354
102Marko Sisovic (Croatia)0:00:49.155
103Marios Papasimakopoulos (Greece)0:00:50.294
104Viktor Usachev (Russian Federation)0:00:56.426
105Peter Keresztes (Hungary)0:01:00.009
106Thibaut Ruffin (France)0:01:01.938
107Erik-Lennart Purres (Estonia)0:01:11.513
108Mahdi Mirzahosseini (Islamic Republic of Iran)0:01:30.835
109Felipe Zanette (Brazil)0:01:39.182
110Mart Laosma (Estonia)0:01:42.145
111Alexandr Zubenko (Kazakhstan)0:02:52.207
112Ludovic May (Switzerland)0:06:25.529
DNFNoah Grossman (Germany)
DNFZakarias Blom Johansen (Norway)
DNFTroy Brosnan (Australia)
DNSMauricio Andres Acuna Quintana (Chile)

Rankings by nation
#Rider CountryResult
1Australia326pts
2Great Britain320
3France320
4New-Zealand313
5South Africa287
6United States Of America268
7Canada254
8Austria248
9Germany244
10Switzerland232
11Sweden217
12Italy196
13Ireland178
14Slovakia155
15Spain154
16Czech Republic144
17Slovenia140
18Poland127
19Portugal116
20Norway109
21Colombia106
22Hungary85
23Finland54
24Japan46
25Ukraine44
26Costa Rica42
27Estonia41
28Greece37
29Russian Federation32
30Croatia29
31Brazil25
32Chile23
33Islamic Republic Of Iran8
34Kazakhstan5

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