Minnaar ready for MTB assault
Johannesburg - Local rider Greg Minnaar will be searching for another victory in the UCI Mountainbike (MTB) World Cup when the opening round starts in Pietermaritzburg on March 16.
The first time the World Cup was held in Pietermaritzburg, in 2009, Minnaar gave the home fans exactly what they wanted, producing a popular victory.
"That definitely was the best win by far," Minnaar said on Thursday.
"It was the first time that I got to race in front of all my family.
"My gran was still around and it was cool for her. She was one of my biggest fans.
"All of my friends and the people who I was at school with, who didn't quite know what I did, I finally had a chance to race in front of them all.
"It was really special, and luckily, I was fortunate that I won.
"It was crazy. The sound of the crowd was just echoing.
"You could say that it was a fairytale ending."
The 31-year-old's Santa Cruz Syndicate team consists of three of the world's leading downhill racers, including Steve Peat (37), who placed fifth in Pietermaritzburg in 2011, and Josh Bryceland (21), who claimed tenth place.
"That's what the Syndicate is all about. We have three different kinds of characters," Minnar said.
"We all work well together and we have a good time together.
"We have a good environment in the team. There's no rivalry before competition, we're all there to support each other, and I think that's what separates our team from everyone else.
"It's a sport where you race individually, but if we can help each other in any way we can, we're there for each other, so our team is stronger."
Next year, Pietermaritzburg will host the biggest event in downhill racing, the Mountainbike World Championships, and Minnaar said he looked forward to the opportunity of adding another global title to his win in 2003.
"It's where I grew up racing. In fact, my first ever race was at the top of Ferncliff.
"The hardest thing is, if I did win the world championships, as I want to do, I don't know whether it's worth continuing to race, not that I would retire.
"I can't see myself retiring, but I don't think there'll be anything to motivate me as much as winning at home."