Posted by Editor on 08/25/01
Mont Ste Anne World Cup Downhill
Greg Minnaar (Global Racing) gave South Africa its first ever World Cup title in cycling on Saturday by finishing second at the World Cup Final
for downhill mountain bike racing. Anne-Caroline Chausson (Volvo Cannondale) of France took her fourth consecutive women's title despite not finishing the final after crashing on the course.
Minnaar's second in the final round of the 8 event series was enough to propel him 12 points ahead of five time winner Nicolas Vouilloz (Vouilloz Racing) of France, who was third for the day. Vouilloz qualified third fastest in the seeding run, and started two positions ahead of fastest qualifier Minnaar. His time of 5:02.20 was two seconds behind Chris Kovarik (Intense), and meant that Minnaar had to finish at least second to take the overall title.
Minnaar did finish second in fine style, three quarters of a second ahead of his rival. After cossing the line, the 20 year old from Pietermaritzburg dropped his bike and ran to hug his parents, who were attending their first ever World Cup race.
Minnaar - "Nico (Vouilloz) is still the best rider around and it hasn't sunk in that I'm as quick. I have tried to be consistent at every event and that's what won the series. I took some crazy lines through the technical sections and jumped a rock section that no one else was. I think that that made up for a bit (of time) I lost at the top where Nico is so fast."
Vouilloz - "Today I did a great race, I felt good on the bike, much faster than in qualifying. But since (round 7) I have felt tired, and not as good as in the early season."
The women's race was somewhat anti-climactic since Chausson had mathematically wrapped up the title prior to the start. The dominant French rider was favoured to win the final as well, but suffered a bizarre mishap when a rock bent the rotor on her rear disc brake, damaging it so that she lost braking power.
"I did not know I had no brakes until I had to use them, then, 'oh no!'."
Chausson's crash has potentially more serious repercussions, since she appears to have re-injured her left knee, the one damaged earlier in the season, two weeks prior to the world championships.
Overshadowed by the battle for the final World Cup standings was some extremely fine riding by the event winners - Chris Kovarik (Australia) and Sabrina Jonnier (France). Both riders were dominant for the day, each winning by over a second and a half. Jonnier took her first World Cup win despite feeling that she had a very poor run.
"I did a lot of mistakes, I thought I had too many to do well. I was too fast at the bottom of the course, and did not have a good line. I had to brake too much."
Top Canadian female finisher was Sylvie Allen (Whistler) in 15th.
In the men's race, Chris Kovarik (Australia) put together an incredibly fast run, finishing in a time of 4:59.96 - the only rider to go under five minutes. He was followed by Minnaar and then Vouilloz. The top Canadian finisher was Leon May (Vancouver) in 20th place.
- Global Racing has signed a new rider today, to make up for the loss of Mick Hannah to a collarbone injury last week at Mount Snow. Finland's Matti Lehikoinen is only 16, but he won the junior European DH title and was 16th overall at the Kaprun World Cup.
- The racing is so tight in the men's category that injury played a major factor in the final rankings. Steve Peat and Fabien Barel were both lost to injury, and Kovarik could have been in contention, except visa problems kept him out of the U.S. for the Durango round.
- Global Racing, a first year squad, took the men's title, second in the women's series (Missy Giove) and the team title.
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