Five Ten rider Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicates) continues to lead the UCI World Cup Downhill Series with a 2nd place finish in Champery, Switzerland.
Gee Atherton takes the win and tightens the margin to 13 points between he and Greg making it a very exciting season. The bad weather all week created difficult track conditions and took a toll on Steve Peat and Josh Bryceland. Steve had a 6th place qualifier and expected to do well in the final, but he had a small crash at the top, which put him in 18th place. Josh’s crash in the qualifier took too much time and he did not make the cut.
The downhill track in Champery is very challenging in the dry, and even more so in the wet. “It was so steep it ended up being one line, just get in the slot and ride. The track is steep and technical, with lots of tight turns, some good jumps, not too rocky, but plenty of roots came out. It was sticky in the finals due to weather conditions and it was very hard to carry speed anywhere,” said Steve. The track is so steep and in case of injuries they must airlift people off the hill. (I was pleased to hear today that young Christian Wright is recovering well from the internal injuries he suffered from his crash here on Thursday).
The rainy, muddy races of late have been taking a toll on the race clothes and my manicure! Lucky for me we had the sweetest pit location of all time. And lucky for Greg that Alpinestars delivered some spanking new World Cup leaders jerseys since he’s been spending so much time in them! We were placed at the downhill finish line with a creek 30 feet away to wash clothes; chill beer and pressure wash bikes with Muc-Off cleaning products, which work so well. We set up with an open pit with a view of the spectacular scenery, shame the majestic peaks were concealed by clouds most of the time.
The race was very exciting to watch with the greasy, muddy conditions anything could happen. Greg’s 15th place qualifier had him come down a half hour before the last man so he enjoyed the hotseat anxiously watching the big screen. We could see on Steve’s run that his jersey was dirty, but we just attributed that to him doing the “Dead Turtle” on the ground before his race start, but he also had a small crash near the top and said, “I’m not happy with my final result. I really thought I’d be able to put one together on my Santa Cruz carbon V-10. I had a small crash on the top section of the track and then never got back on top of things. It was a very tough track and the bad weather didn’t help. Thanks to Ricky Bobby and the Syndicate crew, it was a tough weekend for everyone. It was good to see Greg on the podium!”
Greg says, “I’m chuffed to leave Champery with a second place finish. It wasn’t a racetrack that was typically suited to me. Dougie, Jon Cancellier (RockShox/SRAM) and I worked hard on getting the bike dialed for the rough conditions and it paid off in the end.” This was Greg’s 46th World Cup career podium and he is fast closing in on Steve’s 50 career podiums.
A disappointed Josh said, “I was really enjoying the track at the start of the week and I felt like I was on for a good result. Luck didn’t play into my hand in qualifier and I had a really time consuming crash which left me in 81st place and I was unprotected after the DNF I had in Leogang. I’m looking forward to next weekend to end this unlucky streak.”
>We are headed to Italy for the 5th round of the series at Val Di Sole, but not before taking a few days out to relax at along the way. This will be another exciting race between Greg and Gee and I can’t wait to see how it plays out!
MEN’S TOP TEN:
1st Gee Atherton 4:02.19
2nd GREG MINNAAR (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 4:04.98
3rd Brendan Fairclough 4:06.75
4th Sam Blenkinsop 4:07.0
5th Damien Spagnolo 4:07.51
6th Brook Macdonald 4:09.53
7th Fabien Pedemanaud 4:12.53
8th Aaron Gwin 4:13.75
9th Chris Kovarik 4:15 90
10th Ruaridh Cunningham 4:15.94
MEN’S OVERALL POINTS:
1st GREG MINNAAR (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 830
2nd Gee Atherton 817
3rd Sam Blenkinsop 569
4th Brendan Fairclough 510
5th Aaron Gwin 495
11th STEVE PEAT (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 305
43rd JOSH BRYCELAND (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 138