Greg Minnaar wins in Fort William

Round two of the Downhill UCI Mountain Bike World Cup took place this past weekend in Fort William, Scotland.  South African Greg Minnaar carried on his good form at this venue and won the men’s race thereby earning himself the leader’s jersey for the overall standings. In the ladies race it was a British 1-2 with Tracy Moseley winning ahead of Rachel Atherton.

While Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) took the win in round two for the men, it was the young riders who finished second and third – Danny Hart (Giant) and Brook MacDonald (MS Evil Racing) – who were the real story of the day, signalling the arrival of the next generation of downhillers. Minnaar’s win, coupled with round one winner Aaron Gwin’s (Trek World Racing) fifth place, put the South African into the leader’s jersey for the overall standings.

Starting 48th (out of 81), MacDonald absolutely nailed the pedalling bottom half of the course, to finish a staggering 5.643 seconds ahead of the next best rider at the time. The young New Zealand rider, who won’t turn 20 until November, was the Juniors World Champion in 2009, but this ride put him in a whole new league.

As rider after rider came down, none could surpass his time. It wasn’t until Minnaar, a two-time winner at Fort William, and fourth from last to start, came down that MacDonald was finally dislodged from the lead. The South African, a prodigy himself when he won his world title in 2003, was eighth fastest at the top split, and continued to improve as the course went on, to knock nearly two seconds off MacDonald’s incredible run. Hart, starting just after Minnaar and only a month older than MacDonald, pushed the Kiwi down to third by 0.65 seconds. The final two starters – Gee Atherton (Commencal) and World Cup leader Gwin – slotted in to fourth and fifth respectively after their runs.

“It was tough today,” admitted Minnaar. “I was really nervous. I didn’t think I had it today. In yesterday’s qualifying, I was behind, and I wasn’t sure I could find the time. [Brook] MacDonald had a great ride, but I’m stoked to be on top … it’s just an awesome day. I’m speechless.”