Flat stops brilliant Minnaar's DH World Cup title run

Despite a Santa Cruz Syndicate effort strong enough to take the team title, there was disappointment for three-time world champion Greg Minnaar (and fi’zi:k GOBI M3 saddles) who looked to be heading for the 2017 Downhill World Cup title at the DH series’ final fixture in Val Di Sole. Heading into the seventh and final round, just 33 points separated the South African Minnaar and Aaron Gwin. The scene was set for a legendary race in northern Italy but, frustratingly, a puncture in the final run ended Minnaar’s chances. That followed a dramatic crash in practice that ruined his bike but that the 35-year-old bravely walked away from.

As it transpired, Gwin won the Val Di Sole race to take the World Cup title, though hats off to Minnaar’s 21-year-old teammate Loris Vergier (France,) who put in a superb effort to finish fourth in Italy. The third Santa Cruz Syndicate rider, 20-year-old Luca Shaw (USA) also rode impressively to cross the line eighth.

Despite Minnaar’s obvious disappointment, it’s been a strong season for Santa Cruz Syndicate who broke new ground when, for the first time, they rolled out in round one in Lourdes, France, on 29ers. They also used the special fi’zi:k GOBI M3 saddle, which had been specially adapted to suit the riders’ individual specs.

It proved a memorable combination as three of the Santa Cruz Syndicate riders qualified in the top six in Lourdes, though a downpour left the main race a bit of a Lottery as Alexandre Fayolle took an unlikely win. Minnaar soon overcame that disappointment by winning the second round in Fort William in early June and finishing third in round three a week later. However, it was teammate Vergier who took the Syndicate honors in second.

Round four in Vallnord, Andorra, saw Minnaar edged into second with Vergier in sixth before Minnaar hit the top spot once again in round five (Lenzerheide, Switzerland). Round six in Canada was a disappointing one for Syndicate before Minnaar’s untimely flat left his World Cup chances deflated in Val di Sole.

Still, for Minnaar, the two fast-emerging young Santa Cruz Syndicate riders, the rest of the team and the fans, the rollercoaster World Cup campaign will live long in the memory.

Meanwhile, also at Val Di Sole, the Cross-Country Mountain Bike World Cup was coming to an exciting conclusion with more podiums for f’izi:k riders and the overall Team Classification victory going to the BMC MTB Racing Team for the fifth straight year! In a close-fought round in northern Italy, Frenchman Stéphane Tempier (Bianchi Countervail and fi’zi:k saddles) was pipped by Swiss master Nino Schurter, missing out by 4 seconds, taking second spot. He was followed by compatriot and seven-time XC series winner Julien Absalon (BMC and fi’zi:k saddles) some 43 seconds later. ‘I knew my only chance to beat the others was to start the second half of the last lap with a ten second-gap. I attacked at the bottom of the long climb and didn’t look back,} said the 37-year old rider Congratulations to all fi’zi:k’s XC riders on a super entertaining year.

But the season’s not over… next up, the highlights of both the XC and the DH World Championships in Cairns, Australia, on the weekend of 10th September. Everyone at fi’zi:k wishes the guys the best of luck!