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Minnaar dashes to third spot in World Cup downhill race

South Africa’s current UCI Downhill World Champion Greg Minnaar finished third in the second round of the Downhill series of the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano, which took place at the popular Val di Sole track in Italy on Sunday.

Val di Sole played host to the first meeting of all three mountain bike racing disciplines at the same venue this season, these being cross-country eliminator (XCE), cross-country (XCO) and downhill (DHI).

Minnaar qualified seventh fastest on the technical, steep course in the Trentino region of Italy behind fastest qualifier Gee Atherton (GBR). His final run saw him clock the third fastest time and claim the bronze medal 1.250 seconds off the pace of race winner Gee Atherton (GBR) and second-placed Canadian Steve Smith, who clocked 3min 12.185 and 3:13.186 respectively.

ÔÇ£Going into Val Di Sole I knew I needed to build my confidence,ÔÇØ admitted Minnaar. ÔÇ£We had the suspension set up really well on the first day and that helped me┬ámake the most of practice. I was riding well in the qualifier but had an issue in my run. In the final, Marshy (mechanic) made a last minute final adjustment to my┬ábike to make it feel super comfortable.

“I had a good top section, then hit a loose rock and made a big mistake. I feel that finishing third on that kind of a┬átrack, with the run I had, shows we are still moving in the right direction. I’m really looking forward to the next World Cup in Andorra!ÔÇØ

Saturday belonged to the XCO competitors as South Africans took to the start in the elite, under-23 and junior age categories.

The elite men’s race saw world champion Nino Schurter of Switzerland claim victory in 1:32:47, with France’s Julien Absalon second (1:32:50) and Czech Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy third (1:34:34).

Rourke Croeser finished 17th in the under-23 category men’s race, six-and-a-half minutes behind the race winner Markus Schulte-Luenzum from Germany. Candice Neethling earned 15th place in her under-23 women’s race, finishing 10 minutes 18 seconds behind leader Yana Belomoyna from Ukraine (1:22:45).

Promising junior Alan Hatherly put on a great performance and finished 22nd in his race, six-and-a-half minutes off the pace of New Zealander Samuel Gaze (1:12:36). Representing the junior women was Bianca Haw, who crossed the finish line in 24th place, 16 minutes behind the winner Olga Terentyeva from Russia (1:12:07).

The XCE kicked off the weekend’s action on Thursday evening, and Philip Buys achieved his highest finish in this discipline so far. Buys recorded a fifth place result, with Austrian Daniel Federspiel taking top honours.

South Africans will compete against these international athletes and many more on home soil for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships, to be held at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September.

Summary of Results ÔÇô DHI

1 Gee Atherton (GBR) 3:12.185
2 Steve Smith (CAN) 3:13.186 +1.001
3 Greg Minnaar (RSA) 3:13.435 +1.250

Summary of Results ÔÇô XCO

Elite Men
1 Nino Schurter (SUI) 1:32:47
2 Julien Absalon (FRA) 1:32:50 +0:03
3 Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) 1:34:44 +1:57
71 Philip Buys (RSA) – two laps
80 Renay Groustra (RSA) – three laps

U23 Men
1 Markus Schulte-Luenzum (GER) 1:22:43
2 Daniele Braidot (ITA) 1:24:02 +1:19
3 Nicholas Pettina (ITA) 1:24:47 +2:04
17 Rourke Croeser (RSA) 1:29:22 +6:39
74 Paul Rodenbach (RSA) – three laps
Luke Roberts (DNF)

Junior Men
1 Samuel Gaze (NZL) 1:12:36
2 Gioele Bertolini (ITA) 1:13:21 +0:45
3 Jan Vastl (CZE) 1:14:01 +1:25
22 Alan Hatherly (RSA) 1:19:14 +6:38
60 Louw Kriel (RSA) – one lap

Under-23 Women
1 Yana Belomoyna (UKR) 1:22:45
2 Rebecca Henderson (AUS) 1:23:20 +0:35
3 Andrea Waldis (SUI) 1:24:13 +1:28
15 Candice Neethling (RSA) 1:33:03 +10:18

Junior Women
1 Olga Terentyeva (RUS) 1:12:07
2 Emilie Collomb (ITA) 1:12:40 +0:33
3 Greta Weithaler (ITA) 1:12:40 +0:33
24 Bianca Haw (RSA) 1:28:21 +16:14


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