At almost 40 years of age, the greatest Downhill rider of all time finally owned the Black Snake, winning his fourth rainbow jersey. After Nino Schurter, another giant of the MTB sport left his mark on an unforgettable edition of the World Championships. French Myriam Nicole secured her second World title, Goldstone and Jankova celebrate among Juniors
A week of huge emotions in Val di Sole, the home of the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships 2021, ended in goosebumps in its final act, the anticipated Downhill challenge on the iconic Black Snake track on Sunday, August 29th.
After Nino Schurter's triumph in Cross Country, today it was Greg Minnaar's turn: for the second time in two days, Val di Sole crowned the greatest athlete in the history of the respective disciplines.
At almost 40 years of age (he will turn them on November 13th), the South African phenomenon has won his fourth World Championship, 8 years after the last, 18 years after the first, dated 2003.
Minnaar also broje his curse on the Black Snake, one of the few tracks in the world where he had never secured the top step of the podium.
The final descents and the party that followed created a momentum of collective emotion, with the large audience participating in the continuous twists and turns of a breathtaking race, on a track capable of thrilling, deceiving and disappointing like no other.
An emotion that also accompanied the Women's Elite race, which also represented the closing of a circle: Val di Sole gave Frenchwoman Myriam Nicole her second world title (after Mont Sainte-Anne, 2019), on the same track that 10 years ago saw her claim the first World Cup success of a fantastic career. In the two Junior races, Canadian Jackson Goldstone and Bulgarian Izabela Jankova toasted to their first World Champion’s jerseys.
MINNAAR OWNS THE BLACK SNAKE, RECLAIMS RAINBOW
Greg Minnaar hadn't won a World Championship for 8 years, but he never gave up. Those who had seen him train in Val di Sole in recent weeks were adamant: Greg can do it. The South African champion had tested lines, familiarized with the track, and had grown in confidence day after day.
"I knew a victory was possible," said the South African, "I knew that by giving everything I could make a great run, but until the end you never know if it will be enough."
Actually, the rider from Pietermaritzburg made his masterpiece in the lower part of the course, after passing at the second split over a second behind Frenchman Benoit Coulanges. From there, Minnaar found his flow, floating on stones and roots and drawing a perfect line in the last corners to complete the most sensational of comebacks. 3.28.963 was the time of the golden run, one that none of the French trio Bruni, Vergier and Daprela could scathe, with the latter even victim of two crashes on his run.
The second place went to a less-expected French rider, Benoit Coulanges (+0.227), who made a great run particularly in the middle section. Bronze went to Australian Troy Brosnan (+0.441). Three athletes in less than half a second after 2.100 meters of competition: that’s the wrap-up of a race to remember.
Brit Danny Hart stopped at the foot of the podium, while youngster Matt Walker completed the top-5. 2019 winner Laurie Greenland also was not on his day, as his run on his favorite track was affected by a crash in the early going.