June 7th, 2009 - Fort William, Scotland
Dry weather prevailed and the sun came out today to shine on Santa Cruz Syndicate’s Greg Minnaar (SRAM/RockShox), as he grabs his second Nissan UCI Downhill win of the season with the stamp of conviction to his run. He topped the leader board 1.45 seconds ahead of 2nd place Sam Hill. Josh Bryceland had a smoking run and placed 7th, his best result this year. He finished just behind a disappointed Steve Peat in 6th. Rounding out the top five was Sam Blenkinsop in 3rd, followed by Gee Atherton and Mick Hannah.
The week was electric with the somewhat surprise arrival of 11 members of the Greg Minnaar Fan Club, who flew in for the race from South Africa. Greg had put clues together and knew some of the boys were coming, but when they all arrived at the Syndicate house it was a surprise to see it unfold, and it’s apparent that Greg has some incredibly wonderful friends who will go to great lengths to support him. They were absolutely off the hook rooting for the Syndicate boys dressed in their GM replica jerseys and Ryan Timmerman sported a Steve Peat jersey and kilt. Without a doubt their enthusiasm propelled Greg through the finish line and he would have been able to hear the Vuvuzelas, Peaty horns and screaming fans as he boosted off the Nissan jump into sight.
Josh had a sensational finish today after qualifying 11th. His solid fast race run put him into the hotseat, which he held until 6th place qualifier Hill bumped him out. The fan club was going mental for Josh and Steve. Steve’s run didn’t go smoothly and he was down at the splits, bouncing off a few trees slowed him down and he couldn’t unseat Hill.
When Greg got on course the crowd was going nuts with the fan club leading the cheers as the competition heated up. Greg’s first split was .31 faster than Hill, while putting in the fastest time at the speed trap at 69.49 kph. With the second split less than 40 seconds from the finish line Greg had lost time and was now .41 slower than Hill. He put the hammer down to drop nearly 2 seconds off in the home stretch to put 1.45 seconds into Hill at the finish. It was incredible and the crowd went crazy when he crossed the line into the lead. We just had to wait anxiously for Gee to make his run and when his time at the second split was 2.6 seconds slower than Greg we had some relief. We held our breath until he crossed the line then Greg had in the bag. Insanity ensued when the fan club mobbed Greg chanting, “Minnaar, Minnaar, Minnaar, Minnaar”, to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.
An ecstatic Greg says,” I was really pumped for the weekend with all my friends there. It really brought my spirits up. Practice went really well. Jon Cancellier at SRAM/RockShox got my Santa Cruz V-10 suspension working perfect. On a course like that it’s important to have your bike working well. I knew after qualifier I had a good run and Gee did, as well. I knew the times would be a lot faster in the race. My final run I tried to get the top smooth carrying speed nailing all my lines and it pretty much went to plan except for smashing my cargo; it slammed into the back of my seat when a hit a hole. I was lucky not to go over the bars. There was a little pedaling at the bottom and I just put the power down.
To have all my friends and Rob Roskopp there, I was over the moon. It made the perfect ending to the race. I’d like to thank all my sponsors, and my friends: Lyle, Ryan, Shane, Bumble Bee, Rob Roy, Dry Bird, T-Bone, Nick, Ally, Marty and Surfer Stu. One Life!”
He collected points to put him within striking distance of Steve’s lead in the overall chase with Steve holding the leader’s jersey with just 4 points between he and Greg. It will be a Battle Royale for the overall within the Syndicate going into the next World Cup in Maribor, Slovenia in two weeks.
The Syndicate retained the team overall and Rob Roskopp had the pleasure of going with us on the podium to receive the leader’s trophy. Getting back to the Syndicate pit the insanity continued for the next two hours as Lyle Timmerman’s original 11- year old Vuvuzela turned into a beer bong as the fan club celebrated Greg’s win. Greg is on cloud nine, living his “One Life” to the fullest.
Special thanks go out to the Ft. William organizers, Lesley, Mike, Leemo and all the rest. As always, we were treated to fantastic racing with an amazing atmosphere.
UCI WORLD CUP DOWNHILL FORT WILLIAM TOP TEN:
1st GREG MINNAAR (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 4:38.98
2nd Sam Hill 4:40.43
3rd Sam Blenkinsop 4:41.85
4th Gee Atherton 4:41.97
5th Mick Hannah 4:43.13
6th STEVE PEAT (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 4:44.61
7th JOSH BRYCELAND (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 4:46.15
8th Matti Lehikoinen 4:46.44
9th Aaron Gwin 4:46.72
10th Marc Beaumont 4:47.34
1st STEVE PEAT 762
2nd GREG MINNAAR 758
3rd Gee Atherton 657
4th Mick Hannah 652
5th Sam Hill 607
6th Sam Blenkinsop 406
7th Justin Leov 386
8th Brendan Fairclough 354
9th Marc Beaumont 329
10th Steve Smith 301
13th JOSH BRYCELAND 288
Thanks to the SYNDICATE Sponsors:
Santa Cruz Bicycles
Troy Lee Designs
Martin the Masseur
And Greg’s personal sponsors:
Dr. Murray Galbraith