September 1st was the world championship downhill race in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. The track in Pietermaritzburg is not very technical compared to other tracks we see on the world cup circuit, such as Ft. William in Scotland. The South African track features lots of big jumps and a quick pedal towards the middle of the run. This means that many riders were on modified versions of the bikes they normally ride. Because of all the modifications and prototypes, this was one of the most interesting races all year.
My top three riders for the weekend were Steve Smith, Greg Minnaar, and Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas. Steve Smith has been on a hot streak recently winning the world cup in Mont Saint Anne as well as the Canadian Open DH and Air DH at Crankworx. Steve and his teammate Nick Beer were both on highly customized 650b bikes from Devinci. Unfortunately, Steve’s hopes of becoming world champion didn’t last farther than the first corner, as he went down on the dust riddled track. Marcelo Gutierrez Villegas has been climbing the ranks of professional downhill racing this year. He recently won the Garbanzo DH race at crankworx, which is a physically grueling race. Marcelo’s fitness is on point and landed him in 8th place in Pietermaritzburg.
Some other notable riders were Jared Graves and Mitch Ropelato, who were both on shorter travel, enduro style bikes. Jared Graves ended up in an impressive third place, while Mitch Ropelato crashed into 56th place.
SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE STRIKE GOLD IN SOUTH AFRICA :: World Championships 2013 from santa cruz bikes on Vimeo.
At the end of the day, Greg Minnaar was able to grab the win. Greg was 2012 world champion and is also a Pietermaritzburg local. The first round of the 2012 world cup series was also at Pietermaritzburg and Minnaar won that race as well. Here’s to another season Greg!