Cross Country World Cup – Pietermaritzburg
The opening round of this years cross country season took place in Pietermaritzburg where South Africans once again were able to showcase their talent to the cycling world.
Greg Minnaar had an awesome ride considering this is his 1st big event since undergoing surgery to a troublesome left knee towards the end of last season.How good was it to see the World Champions jersey on the shoulders of Greg flying down the mountain on the downhill course.Greg held the hot seat for awhile and eventually ended up in 3rd place.Lets hope this is the start of a great season for our fearless downhill mountain bike champion.
It was the turn of our U23 rider James Reid of Trek Racing to get our hearts racing when he got the better of Cooper in the final few hundred meters to finish fourth, equaling his 2012 PMB World Cup result.
“It’s nice to be up where I was two years ago,” said Reid. “I’ve always believed I’ve had that kind of shape but it’s taken a full two years to get back up to where I was when I last got a fourth in Maritzburg.
“I’m going well at the moment but I took a bit of a knock when I went to the States recently and had my eyes opened to just how fast I actually needed to be so I came and really put my head down and worked hard in the build up to the World Cup.”
Slow off the mark meant Reid’s top three hopes were dashed early on but the local lad was still happy with the final outcome.
“Today was good. I had a poor start and was slightly off the lead group in the first few minutes which meant it was kind of decided up front already. So I got locked into a bit of a ding-dong battle with (Anton) Cooper.
“It was a tough position to be in because had I tried to go after third I may have gifted fifth a free ride with me.
“Anton and I ended up going a similar speed for much of the middle part of the race before tactics came into play in the last lap. Cooper had been getting quicker little by little so on the last lap I decided just to go for it and fortunately he couldn’t stay with me.
“I’m stoked to get the World Cup season off to a good start. Stoked to be in the top five, podium would have been nice but I’ll take it!”
Reid also showed his appreciation of the support he received from the home crowd at Cascades.
“I grew up about 20 minutes away from here so there were a lot of old friends here and the Maritzburg crowd really helped me enormously.
“It’s also really good for the South African public to see that we do have the cross country potential here in SA,” Reid concluded.