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Greg Minnaar has had an impressive and long career that seems to go relatively unnoticed. 10 years ago, Minnaar was the World Cup series overall winner and 8 years ago, he claimed victory at the World Championship downhill in Lugano, Switerzland. He still carries the speed, tactics and desire to win today.

Preparation
Was winning World Championships a specific goal for you the year you won?
Yeah, it definitely was.

Did you approach your winning race differently than other World Cup races that year?
No, not really. Or at least I don't think so. I can't really remember, it's been a while.

Discuss your bike setup compared to what some of the competition was running at Lugano.
All I can remember is that we ran out of tires, so I raced on worn tires. I should probably give that another go in Leogang.

What is one piece of your preparation that you feel is unique to you and no one else?
Ed Chavez cleaning my cleats with the "Good Luck" screw driver.
Greg aboard his Intense-built Haro DH bike that he used to win World Champs, Sea Otter '03. photo by gordoDid you work closely with your National team and coaches when you won?
We don't have National coaches or any support from the South African Cycling Federation.

How important was your preparation in securing a victory the year you won?
Preparation is everything.

Greg Minnaar competed in 4X and DH events the year he won World Champs. Something that doesn't happen these days. Timeless whip at Sea Otter 2003. photo by gordoYour Victory
As a World Champion, I imagine you think about your winning run often.  Let's break down the experience a bit. How did you feel the night before your race run?
To be honest, I hardly think about it. I was tired, I raced 4X the night before and it ran late in to the night.

How did you feel riding up the lift?
I can't remember  but I'm damn sure I was super nervous. As usual.

What was it like rolling into the start gate?
I was ripped and raging, focused on nailing every corner, trying to balance while Ed did the final sequence to our superstitious routine.

Recount your run in detail.
Lost the front end in 2nd corner, it was gravely. Smoothed up and maintained rhythm through the middle of the track. I remember digging deep on the pedaling at the bottom of the track, trying to power all the way to the finish line.

When did you realize you had the winning run?
I didn't think my time was going to last until the last rider was pedaling to the line and I could see that he wasn't going to beat my time.

What do you remember most about the day?
Skateboarding from the pits to a bar with the rainbow stripes on.
The winning run and podium. photo by Gary PerkinThe Payoff
Do you think people were surprised by your victory?
I don't think so, I had won a couple World Cups by then, as well as the World Cup overall.

Did winning a World Championship effect how raced after the victory?
Yeah, I raced with more confidence.

How did your victory effect your career and your future with mountain biking?
I don't think it effected my career at all. But I did have a whole lot more friends all of a sudden.

In General
Which World Championship that you didn't win is most memorable to you?
Les Gets, Canberra and Fort William. I lost to Fabien in 2004 at Les Gets by 0.4 seconds. I lost to Peaty in 2004 at Canberra by 0.05 seconds. And in Fort William I took a little tumble midway, breaking my scapula and dislocating my shoulder but I managed to finish 4th. I missed a fair bit of the after party while doctors tried to put my shoulder back in.

As downhill mountain biking racing grows, do you think the World Championships will always be the ultimate title?
I would like to see the World Cup Champion be seen as the most prestigious champion in Mountain Biking. It shows the rider who was at the top of his/her game all season long.
Not too long after his victory, Minnaar, the World Champ, went to Virgin, Utah for the 2003 Red Bull Rampage and competed. Yep, that's a heel clicker and he got 7th place.
What do you think about Minnaar's versatility and long-standing run of domination in World Cup downhill? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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