March 18th, 2012

Aaron Gwin Takes 2nd at World Cup 1, as Teammates finish Top 20.



In a thrilling finish that had the thousands of fans here in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on the edge of their seats until the very last second, Aaron Gwin was narrowly defeated by local hero Greg Minnaar after setting a blistering time. Trek World Racing’s youngest downhill rider Neko Mulally scored a career best 14th, while Justin Leov finished a solid 17th. All 3 riders are now top 20 ‘protected’ heading into Round 2.

After the course had been soaked by a tropical downpour the night before, the sun came out and the track dried out nicely for the finals. With all 3 riders in the top 30 live TV broadcast, it was Neko who came down first for the team and immediately went into the hotseat where he spent the better part of the next 30mins. His training with Aaron in California earlier this year was starting to show. Justin Leov crossed the line in 4th place and was happy with his solid run.

Mick Hannah (AUS), who qualified fastest on this course last year, was the first to go under 4mins and took the hotseat with a 3min 58.974secs. This time stood until Aaron took to the course. Despite being down in the first 2 sectors, Aaron pushed his Session 9.9 in the lower half of the course and saw the green light for the first time as he crossed the line, 0.35secs up on good mate Mick Hannah. All heads turned to the giant screen to see if the World Cup veteran of 52 podiums, Greg Minnaar (RSA) was going to respond to the challenge. He was 2 seconds off at the first split, then 1 second off at the 2nd, but Greg powered to the line in a time that was 0.63secs up on Aaron; the win was all his.

Aaron said: “It's been a great week here in SA and I'm happy with my run today. I’m also happy for Greg, he’s had some tough challenges this past week and I truly respect his win today, that was amazing, and I’m looking forward to a great season with him, like last year. I’m also super stoked for Neko that was a great run by him today!”

Neko said: “I’m so proud of how I rode my bike today. Everything went to plan and I’m happy to have achieved my goal for this race. This is the start of my first season as an elite rider and I’m excited about what the rest of the season will hold for me and my teammates”.

Justin said: “I’m happy with my result this weekend which is a big improvement on my race here last year. I’m in a good position and know I will move up from here on the next courses in Europe. All in all, a solid weekend for me.”

There are now 11 long weeks until Round 2, in Val di Sole (ITA), but between now and then the Trek World Racing downhiller riders will be racing at Sea Otter in the USA.

Full results: http://www.uci.ch/templates/BUILTIN-NOFRAMES/Template1/layout.asp?MenuId=MTYzODg&LangId=1

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