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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Actions speak louder than words

By Paul Mirtschin

Greg Minnaar

Click for larger image
The Fresh Prince
© GregMinnaarRacing.

Born: November 13, 1981

Major results

2002

Swiss MTB Champ's DH: 1st
UCI World Cup 4X #5: 3rd
UCI World Cup DH #3: 3rd
Maxxis Cup Int. DH #4: 8th
Maxxis Cup Int. DH #2: 5th

2001

1st overall in the World Cup Series
World Cup DH #3, Mont-Sainte-Anne: 3rd
Lisbon Street DH: 2nd
World Championships DH, Vail: 3rd
UCI DH #8, Mont-Sainte-Anne: 2nd
UCI DH #7, Kaprun: 1st
UCI DH #6, Leysin: 2nd
Norba DH #4, Mammoth Mountain: 3rd
Norba Dual #1, Snow Summit: 2nd
Sea Otter Classic, DH: 3rd

2000

World Cup DH #5: 5th
World Cup DH #7: 5th
World Cup DH #2: 10th
World Cup DH #4: 10th
UCI World Cup Overall: 9th
World Champ's DH: 11th

Earlier

1999 6th Junior World Championships
1999 8th World Cup - Big Bear, USA
1999 African Downhill Champion
1998 6th Junior World Championships

Since 1997, the young South African known as the "Fresh Prince of Big Air" has enjoyed success in almost every race he has entered, and has made his way up the UCI rankings from 240 to number 13 at the end of 2002.

Greg was also the first African mountain biker to stand on a UCI podium, and the first African rider to win the mountain bike World Cup. Not too bad for someone who only got involved in mountain bikes after his parents bought a bike shop.

We spoke to Greg at the end of one of the "Big Air Training Camps" that he runs along with 23 Degrees.

Cyclingnews: You were recently awarded the "Best South African International Mountain Biker" award at the South African Mountain Biker of the Year Awards, how did it feel to win the award?

Greg Minnaar: It was a amazing evening, and was really cool to just be there. It really was great to win an award.

CN: The award must help with the disappointment of not being able to compete at the Worlds due to your broken collarbone, what exactly happened there?

GM: I came off in practice, it was a simple crash but I came down on my shoulder. I was disappointed but [you've] got to realize that we are in a dangerous sport and these things do happen.

CN: How is the healing of the shoulder going?

GM: I feel it's really strong; I've been riding loads of motocross and it seems good.

CN: You crashed in the finals of the Maxxis Cup as well - a run of bad luck or just pushing it too hard?

GM: I would say a bit of both; it was the final so I was really going for it and then the bad luck hit in.

CN: Looking through your results, you have had a number of good placings in the urban downhill races such as the Red Bull Lisbon event. What do you put that down to?

GM: The Urban races are cool; you get to race in a main city and get to hang out there a bit. The races are loads different to downhills in the woods, but they are good fun.

CN: I've also noticed that some of your better placings have been in the longer races, do you feel you are better suited to longer races?

GM: Ya, I think that I can keep a steady pace the whole way down the course and not fade to the end, and the longer the course the more time I gain on the second half.

CN: You have just completed your first Big Air Training Camp in Spain, want to tell us all about that?

Click for larger image
Greg on the podium
Photo Giovanna Bonazzi

GM: It was good, we had five riders and they improved so much. We did these timed runs on a downhill in Granada, and one of the riders improved his time by one minute, it was amazing. A few were a little scared of jumping but by the end of the camp they were jumping like it was second nature.

CN: Are you planning on making these training camps a regular event?

GM: Yes they are going be a regular thing.

CN: What would a normal race season training schedule be for you? Could you list the different types of training you would do between World Cup events and how much you would do?

GM: During the season I keep doing intervals and XC rides between races.

CN: How does this compare to your off-race season? I'm guessing you move home to Pietermaritzburg to enjoy the Southern summer. How does your training change when you aren't racing the NORBA/World Cup circuit?

GM: At home, I go jumping loads and motocrossing and then I also do the gym work and base training.

CN: How much does dirt jumping play a role in your daily activities?

Click for larger image
Mostly in control
Photo Rob Karman

GM: I try to go as much as possible, but at the moment the trails are bad so I haven't been for a while.

CN: Did the "I tried to do a backflip without my bike" crash in the Sprung video get some ribbing from your teammates?

GM: Yip it did, but we were just having some fun, BUT some day I'll do a backflip.

CN: Speaking of your team, how are things going with the Global guys? What's it like to be on such a multicultural team?

GM: It's great; you get to learn so much about other cultures and try to speak their language.

CN: Do you get to play at the Arai MTB Park much?

GM: No not really, But that is the best World Cup race I have ever been to.

CN: What are your plans for the next few months? Plans for the 2003 race season?

GM: Not sure yet, but hope to know soon.

CN: And finally, is there anything else you would like to say? Anyone you want to thank?

GM: My family, Global Racing, Oakley, Lazer, Answer and to all my mates.

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