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OUT OF AFRICA - World Cup Downhill Slideshow from the Finals at Pietermaritzburg

<b>Aaron Gwin, back in the saddle again. 2-seconds ahead of the competition, blowing the doors off the first World Cup downhill of 2014.</b> -Maddog

<b>Aaron Gwin looked dangerously fast all week throughout practice. He kept it tidy and laid it on the line when it counted to take the win over the power house that is Mick Hannah. He also goes under 4-minutes in doing so.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Having had issues in his seeding run, Mick Hannah set a blistering time early on in the preceedings and held the hot seat for 19 riders.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Mick Hannah. So close for so long, then missing out by so little. We know you have it in you!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Having been back on a downhill bike for less than a month, Minnaar's performance today was nothing but exceptional.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Manon Carpenter celebrated her first World Cup win today. A trying track testing both stamina, technical ability, physical strength and mental fortitude. Well done, Manon.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Luca Shaw wins the hotly-contested Junior category. Big jumps and high speed pedal sections were no problem for the young American.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Luca Shaw has a posse. John Dawson from SRAM is one of the individuals that spearheaded the SRAM / Troy Lee Designs race team. Luca takes care of himself, but it's good to know this unique pile of mentors has your back, too. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Loic punished the top section today, being the only one to get close to Gwin up top. Not bad for the 2nd-year rookie Elite rider.</b> -Duncan Philpott</b> -Maddog

<b>What's Ratboy thinking about? Rally car drifts, the name of his new hair metal band or why he had to hit that rock in the first corner?.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>So Josh Bryceland smashed his guide and lost his chain on the very first turn of the course (you can see it derailed off the from ring here) What this means is that he coasted the entire track and even had a Top7 first split. He over cleared both tables to flat, too. He is so due for a big result shortly.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Rachel Atherton finished almost four seconds back from Manon today, which is not too bad considering she almost chose not to ride. She's been suffering from some sort of viral infection, but now has points in the bag.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Rachel staying under wraps even in her warm up, despite the oppressive African heat.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Having placed 4th for two years in a row, Jill Kintner progressed up another step on the podium to 3rd place today. U-S-A!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Emmeline Ragot flat out of luck to 5th place, less than .6 off a podium position.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Neko Mulally has been a consistent presence in the Top 20. The young American has now made a solid start to the year cracking the Top 10. Every battle brings experience. YEAH NEKO!</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Sam Hill in the Top 10 on what will be his least-favorite track of the year. Flat pedals all the way. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>Big bearded bruiser, Sam Dale besting the Brits.</b> -Maddog

<b>SPY SHOT! GT's prototype ice bath time machine.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Gee Atherton was a little off today, despite the ice bath. A small mistake up top was too much to over come through the bottom. Sometimes that's just how it goes and there is a long season ahead.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Loris Vergier had the fastest first spilt in the juniors but ended up 2nd to a powerful Luca Shaw after the pedal. It's going to be be a close season of racing in the Juniors.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Those chicken McNuggets have paid off for Troy. He place 5th, making us look like fools in the Power Rankings. We applaud you.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Troy uses the "special tape" option for securing his number while Gwin chokes down his cricket protein.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Eric Carter is working with the Specialized Downhill team. Needless to say, he had an emotional day.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Brook Macdonald in a very green-looking, but still hot, African plantation forest. 35th with a banged up body after a big crash earlier this week means he will be looking forward to the European rounds in a few months.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>PMB is just not Danny Hart's friend. 28th today is a result he'll want to forget even though we won't forget how sideways he was in practice.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>That is not sharpie, he just likes to party. Kids, please do not attempt to be like Boris.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The exhaustion over-powering emotion as his win sinks in. Luca Shaw.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>The sun was definitely out in PMB today. Suns out draughts out. </b> -Sven Martin

<b>The World Cup season has started with a bang. Greg Minnaar and Aaron Gwin are still the only two riders who have ever won here in PMB. It is said we will not be coming back here next year, so the history books are written for now.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>All you true, hardcore viewers who dig deep into our slideshows are rewarded with special, artistic versions of the Winning Bike photos.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Not many people would have picked Saracen for the team overall before this weekend. Solid performances from the team claimed them the spot.</b> -Sven Martin

<b>Foot off, flat out.</b> -Maddog

<b>The preparation for the race run begins before the riders are even at the race venue. Early morning stretching helps focus the mind and the muscles.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>With some downtime before the racing starts, the top Elite male competitors get a chance to relax and stretch out.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>All the lads love a good goon around.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>There are no hard feelings between Manon and Rachel. Your first World Cup win is certainly a special one.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>I felt like I'd been lacking in the panning department for the last few days. Thanks to the guys at SRAM for lending some truck roofspace to get the angle for this one.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Epic results.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>There were just as meany P.E.A.T.Y All the Lads T-shirts out there as there were from the One Life crew. Regardless of result, Peaty remains a legend.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>Blenkinsop, 6th place and a raging bull.</b> -Duncan Philpott

<b>TIA</b> -Maddog

<b>Gwin is once again in the spotlight. Could he be on for a repeat of the 2012 season? If today was any indication, it's going to be one gnarly summer if EC keeps serving up the secret sauce!</b> -Duncan Philpott - THANK YOU SVEN, DUNCAN AND JOE!

The doors were blown off the 2014 UCI World Cup Mountain bike season with a battle in the heat of South Africa. When the dust settled, Aaron Gwin and Manon Carpenter schooled their competitors on a track that was both technical, but also physically demanding. While short, the technical section would prove to determine the fate of Mick Hannah, who was favorite for a victory. A mistake up top would be too much for the Australian to make up and after a long, stressful run in the hot seat, the last rider down, Aaron Gwin, would snag victory by just over 2-seconds. U.S. rider, Luca Shaw clinched a Junior victory and fellow Americans, Jill Kintner and Neko Mulally would earn their best World Cup finishes yet, 3rd and 8th respectively. It was truly a remarkable season opener.

Sit back, press play and travel trackside to the most exciting mountain bike competition on the planet, thanks to Sven Martin, Duncan Philpott and Joe Bowman.

View complete results from Pietermaritzburg

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