Cape Town - 2015 was a year in which South African Greg Minnaar demonstrated that class is permanent.
A fourth-place finish in the World Cup series may have been even better had the Pietermaritzburg-born 33-year-old not been injured on the opening day of the season in France (22nd) or come off his bike on the last day of the season in Italy (54th).
Those two results hurt Minnaar's campaign, but in between them he won in Scotland and in Switzerland to become the most decorated World Cup rider in the sport’s history with 18 wins – overtaking English legend Steve Peat in the process.
In the season-ending World Championships - the one-off annual event that brings the curtain down on the year - over the weekend it appeared that Minnaar had done enough to win his fourth Championship gold medal.
But 21-year-old Frenchman Loic Bruni’s masterful ride in Andorra ensured the first win of his short career while Minnaar settled for second.
There are no regrets from Minnaar’s side, and he told Sport24 on Tuesday that Bruni’s ride was special.
“When I came across I thought that my time might be good enough, but I knew I had made one or two mistakes so in the back of my mind I knew that I could be caught,” he said.
“That run I put together was pretty damn good. I don’t think I lost gold, I think I won silver.
“I probably could have risked a bit more, but that is how it is in mountain biking. I knew I was riding quick and on that track in those conditions I made the most of it.”
Minnaar was full of praise for Bruni.
“It’s really great for him that he had his first win, it couldn’t have been a better way to finish second. He is such a precise rider and he’s going to be hard to beat next season.”
Minnaar is back in the U.S. now where he will seek medical advice on another hand injury.
But come next year ‘Mr. Min’, as he is fondly known back home, will be at it once more looking to further enhance is reputation as one of the greatest riders ever.
“I think next season will be much like this season for me. I just need to get this hand injury sorted and then I can start working hard in training again.”