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Greg racing for dad

Local downhill hero Greg Minnaar has confirmed that despite the poor health of his father, Jeff, he will still compete in the 2012 RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg this weekend after his dad appears to have turned a corner on his road to recovery recently.

The news ends days of speculation that the Santa Cruz Syndicate rider, who produced a thrilling run to win the 2009 downhill title and finished second fractionally behind Trek World Racing star Aaron Gwin last year, would withdraw from his hometown event

ÔÇ£My dad has been really ill,ÔÇØ explained Minnaar. ÔÇ£He’s in hospital right now in ICU, but he’s come a long way. He was critical last week, but he’s pulled through a bit. I wasn’t too sure if I was going to ride this week. I pulled out of last week’s race and just came and did a little practice, just in case I changed my mind.

ÔÇ£But I feel a bit better now that my dad’s slightly better and possibly on the road [to recovery], so I thought I would ride,ÔÇØ he added.

The current world number three was appreciative of the support he had received from his friends and team-mates but while it has been difficult to deal with his father’s poor health, the fact that the World Cup opener is in his home town of Pietermaritzburg played on Minnaar’s mind as he grappled with the decision of whether to race or not.

ÔÇ£The team have been really supportive. They obviously gave me an option not to ride. It’s a bike race at the end of the day,ÔÇØ said Minnaar.

ÔÇ£It is at home, which makes it hard and makes you want to do it, but at the same time your family is important. Now I feel that my dad is in a more stable condition, it puts me a bit at ease,ÔÇØ he added.

Having spent most of the past week with his dad and away from the course and his bike, Minnaar will now have to pick himself up and prepare for the World Cup season opener which promises to be a battle of epic proportions.

ÔÇ£I definitely have to focus now on racing, which is going to be hard, but I’m ready for it!ÔÇØ said Minnaar.

“Who knows what a week off from training will mean? I’ll try and put it behind me and, obviously I didn’t do much riding last week. I got out here on Saturday when the guys were practicing for the race, did some runs, and that was pretty much all I did, which is fine.

ÔÇ£There’s nothing I can do about it, you’ve just got to put it behind you and focus on the race. You can’t catch up on lost training and I’m not going to let it play a part, just keep my eyes on the goal and that’s to race as best I can on Sunday,ÔÇØ he added.

Despite being unwell Minnaar’s father was adamant Greg must compete and will be one of the many cheering his son on come Sunday’s final, except his support will be heard from his hospital bed nearby.

ÔÇ£He (my dad) wants me to ride, he’s just upset that he’s in hospital now and he can’t even watch it, so we’ve hooked him up with a 3G card and a laptop there, so he can watch it live on the internet,ÔÇØ said Minnaar.

ÔÇ£He’s a bit devastated that he can’t be there. I think that’s more his worry right now. He didn’t even realise how sick he is. He’s just worried that he can’t make it out to the race. It would be sad to have a home race and not race, so I definitely want to try be here, and I am going to be here for sure!ÔÇØ he added.

The RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup Pietermaritzburg takes place at the Cascades MTB Park from 16-18 March.