Minnaar, Nicole top DH podiums at UCI World Cup No. 5 in Switzerland
Special to the Daily
2017 UCI Downhill World Cup standings
*as of July 10
Stage 5 | Men’s results
1. Greg Minnaar, RSA — 2:57.042
2. Troy Brosnan, AUS — +0.162s
3. Danny Hart, GBR — +1.826
4. Laurie Greenland, GBR — +2.943
5. Philip Atwill, GBR — +3.788
Stage 5 | Women’s results
1. Myriam Nicole, FRA — 3:26.890
2. Rachel Atherton, GBR — +0.512s
3. Emilie Siegenthaler, SWI — +2.387
4. Tracey Hannah, AUS — +4.539
5. Tahnee Seagrave, GBR — +5.733
Overall men’s standings (points)
1. Greg Minnaar, RSA — 902
2. Troy Brosnan, AUS — 742
3. Aaron Gwin, USA — 649
Overall women’s standings (points)
1. Myriam Nicole, FRA — 980
2. Tracey Hannah, AUS — 900
3. Tahnee Seagrave, GBR — 819
South African veteran Greg Minnaar and Frenchwoman Myriam Nicole dug deep for wins at the fifth round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup downhill in Lenzerheide, Switzerland, over the weekend. The win helped Minnaar protect his lead in the men’s overall series standings, while Nicole managed to dethrone previous women’s overall leader, Australia’s Tracey Hannah, with a lightning-quick second run on the fast and flowy course.
This weekend’s win in Switzerland was just Nicole’s second in as many weekends after she tasted victory in Vallnord, Andorra, for her first UCI stage title in six years. The Commencal/Vallnord rider had qualified in second position this weekend behind resurgent World Champion Rachel Atherton, who was still on the comeback trail after a dislocated shoulder sustained in Fort William, Scotland, on the first stop of the summer.
It was a rider on home turf however, Emilie Siegenthaler, who took the lead in dominant fashion after the first round, capitalizing on a crash by Tahnée Seagrave that cost the young Brit dearly.
Overall points leader, Tracey Hannah, qualified third in the first round, but had to settle for fourth on the day ahead of Seagrave, as she failed to top Siegenthaler’s time. Nicole, however, managed to beat both Siegenthaler and Atherton, who lost time on one of the course’s few flat sections to hand her rival back-to-back victories and the points leader jersey.
“This is such a hard track and hard to find a good feeling on it,” Nicole said after the win. “It was tough for everyone and (we’re) pretty stoked that Rachel is back racing with us.”
Although she missed the top of the podium, Atherton was simply happy to be back on the DH circuit.
“I never thought I would be back on the podium so soon,” Atherton said. “Pompon (Nicole’s nickname) has been racing for so long with so many injuries and such bad luck. It is really cool to see her at the top.”
Minnaar domination continues
In the men’s race, as with the women’s, the UCI series had been treated to four different winners at four different rounds, and yet Minnaar has remained the most consistent of the circuit protagonists.
This weekend, Great Britain’s Philip Atwill shocked many when he claimed the early lead, only to see compatriot Laurie Greenland dislodge him after a sensational run. It seemed like the United Kingdom would command the series, as reigning UCI World Champion Danny Hart also joined the fray in hopes of claiming his first win of 2017. The Swiss track, where the British youngster won his inaugural race almost exactly 12 months previously, seemed as good a place as any to do it.
Hart managed to outperform his fellow Britons, but he couldn’t catch an in-form Minnaar. The South African had a near-perfect run to superbly to capture the lead, with Australian Troy Brosnan falling just short in second place ahead of Hart in third.
American Aaron Gwin looked set to better them all halfway down with splits in the green, but a punctured tire deflated his chances. It also handed Minnaar an astonishing 21st UCI World Cup downhill triumph. Lenzerheide 2017 was also his 75th career podium — yet another milestone for a rider already deemed “the greatest of all time” by some.
“Aaron had such a good race and he was in the lead when he punctured,” Minnaar said of Gwin’s bad luck. “Who knows what the end would have been like. … The funny thing is, after 75 podiums, I am still having a fun time, and I honestly feel like I am 18 or 19.”
Like Minnaar, who sits more than 200 points ahead of him in the overall standings, Gwin called his finish the result of bad luck.
“I haven’t had a flat tire in probably two or three months, so it is just a bummer it had to happen here,” Gwin said. “That is racing.”
After a mid-season break, the downhill series next moves to Mont-Sainte-Anne in Canada from Aug. 5-6.
For a list of the current men’s and women’s standings, visit SummitDaily.com.
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