Posted by Editoress on 10/30/20
Two weeks after the first two rounds of the Downhill World Cup in Maribor, Slovenia, the top riders in the world gathered for the final two rounds in Lousa, Portugal. Round 3 took place on Friday, with Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) adding to his record as the best male downhiller in history with his 22nd World Cup win. Myriam Nicole (Commencal/Muc-Off/Riding Addicition) took the Elite women's win.
Seth Sherlock (Intense Factory) was the top Canadian of the day, finishing eighth in Junior men, while Mark Wallace (Canyon Collective) was 27th in Elite men. Finn Iles (Specialized Gravity) was in the process of setting a new fast time in his run (third fastest for the first split), before a spectacular crash took him out of contention; Iles eventually finished 50th.
Track conditions were almost perfect, after weeks of muddy racing at Worlds and the first two rounds of the World Cup, however, the extremely long track demanded a lot of the riders. Technical, rough, rooty and rutted at the top, riders then faced a long pedalling section through the middle, with many losing time here.
Leona Pierrini (France) won her third consecutive World Cup in Junior women, while Ethan Craik (GT Factory) won the Junior men. Junior men's world champion Oisin O'Callaghan (The YT Mob), winner of the first two rounds, crashed. Pierrini and O'Callaghan continue to lead the overall standings. Sherlock improves from 17th to 14th in the Junior men's standings.
Nicole qualified first by nearly five seconds and beat French compatriot Marine Caribou (Scott DH Factory) by nearly the same amount in the final. Tahnee Seagrave (Canyon Collective), coming back from injury, took third. Nicole moves into the lead in the overall standings with 625 points, dropping Cabirou to second at 575 points. Tracey Hannah (Polygon UR) is third at 481 points.
In the men's race, Greg Williamson (Commencal/100%) set the first sub-4 minute time, to hold the Hot Seat for a long time before Aaron Gwin (Intense Factory) finally displaced him. Gwin's time would be good enough for fourth in the end, and he held the lead until defending World Cup overall champion Loic Bruni (Specialized Gravity) knocked 1.1 seconds off at five riders to go. However, Minnaar was right behind Bruni, and he smashed the French rider's time by almost two seconds to take the lead. The second last starter, Matt Walker (Madison Saracen), slotted in marginally in front of Bruni, while the final rider, Loris Vergier (Santa Cruz Syndicate), winner of the first two rounds, flatted high on the course, to limp in 58th. Walker moves into first in the overall standings with 517 points, only 14 ahead of Vergier. Minnaar jumps from seventh to third at 427 points, with Bruni tied on points in fourth place. Iles drops from eighth to 12th in the standings and Wallace to 28th from 23rd.
"It hasn't really sunk in much," admitted Minnaar about his 22nd World Cup win. "I had a great ride down, but it's one of those bittersweet wins when one of your greatest rivals and also your team mate (Vergier) punctures on the way down. I feel really sorry Loris to have that happen today. It didn't feel to me like I'd win ... I had a good timed session, but in qualifying I was back a bit and lost a lot of time in the bottom pedalling bit. So today I focussed on neatening up my run and once I gotten to that bottom section, I thought 'I'm not going to lose the race here', so I just went as hard as I could. I was pretty tired going into today, so I'm glad I had the legs to push through it. You have to push yourself when you are racing to another mindset, another level. That's the addiction of racing."
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