Greg Minnaar has won the 2012 UCI Downhill World Championships in Leogang, his second World Championship victory!
Photo by Ale Di Lullo
Minnaar proved once more that he is one of the greatest downhill riders the sport has seen, looking his usual composed self as he tore down the Austrian mountain side. This was Minnaar’s second World Championship victory, having first claimed the rainbow stripes back in 2003.
Speaking after the race Minnaar said: “It was tough. I was super nervous! I tried to nail the top section, made a few little mistakes but I managed to come back”. When asked about Gwin’s run Minnaar showed nothing but respect for the American racer saying this was “not the best way for me to win” adding “I can hardly believe I’ve won this!”
Photo by Ale Di Lullo
As it came down to the top 15 elite men Great Britain’s Sam Dale was sitting comfortably in the hot seat with a time of 3:28. Steve Peat, in his 20th World Championship race was up on Dale’s time and looking fast. Too fast in fact as he came into a corner with too much speed and crashed out. But Peaty is such a huge legend of the sport he could roll down on a kids tricycle and still get the loudest cheer from the crowd. Today was no exception and the Austrian fans went wild for him.
Back in May Troy Brosnan had a huge crash at the iXS race held in Leogang. The internal injuries he suffered put him out for the season and this was his first return to the world stage. Unfortunately it seems Leogang just isn’t Troy’s track, and last year’s Junior World Champ took another big slam and was unable to finish.
Andrew Neethling looked to be having a great run, the first rider to go seriously big on the tabletops. Like massive big. The momentum from these gave him an extra boost of speed but Needles just couldn’t control it on the bike park corner. How the wallride survived is anyone’s guess.
Mick Hannah was the fastest rider in Saturday’s timed practice with a 3:26. As I’ve said before, Mick is an incredibly powerful rider and the track at Leogang is perfect for his riding style. Mick crossed the line nearly two seconds faster than current leader Florent Payet and went into the lead.
Steve Smith was the next rider down, hot off three massive wins at Crankworx Whistler, including the Canadian Open DH. Smith was a second and a half back at the top section, but clawed the time back in the technical section on-board his Carbon Devinci Wilson to go into the hot seat and eventually take the bronze medal.
Josh Bryceland didn’t have much luck at the World Champs last year, going over the bars coming out a corner and having to watch his V-10 spiral down the Swiss mountainside. Bryceland suffered more heartache yet again, his front wheel clipping a tree and sending him over the front.
Sam Hill didn’t have the best start, getting a bit too loose in one of the opening corners and dabbing a foot. Hill was 8.66 seconds back at the first split, yet somehow managed to get that down to just two seconds as he crossed the line, doing enough to finish fifth. Brook MacDonald also didn’t have the run he would have hoped for finishing in eighth place.
Gee Atherton won the World Champs in Val di Sole back in 2008 so knows exactly how it feels to earn those rainbow stripes, and what it takes to win them. Gee wasn’t the cleanest rider through the tabletops but was pedalling more than anyone else and went into the hot seat just over half a second up on Steve Smith’s time. With just two riders left Gee was guaranteed a medal round his neck for the return journey.
But this wasn’t to be Gee’s day and Minnaar put in an impeccable run finishing half a second faster than Gee. As Gwin approached the tabletops it was clear something was wrong and the first split confirmed it. The 2012 World Championship tilt e belonged to Greg Minnaar, and he couldn’t have been happier!
1 – Greg Minnaar 3:21.790
2 – Gee Atherton +0.581
3 – Steve Smith +1.214
Full results can be found here.