Josh Bryceland and Greg Minnaar (Fox/Shimano/Enve/Maxxis) joined one another on the podium after a wild week in Val D’Isere, France at the sixth world cup of the season with Josh 3rd and Greg 4th, just .19 of a second behind Josh. Steve Peat regained some form since his hamstring injury placing 12th on this short, fast track in the stunning French Alps. Brook MacDonald takes his first world cup win breaking the stranglehold that Minnaar and Gwin have had on world cup wins for the past two seasons. Aaron Gwin gains enough points to wrap up the overall title and Greg’s points margin for second over Gee Atherton shrinks to just 19 points.
Arriving into the upscale ski village in Val D’Isere Syndicate riders were stoked on the old school style track, which was open, fast and loose. Practice started well and it was clear Josh was riding with a lot of confidence. Qualifier on Friday was hectic with riders crashing and flatting all over the place, yet Josh stayed smooth and placed 2nd! Greg made some big, near-death mistakes and hung on for a 6th place qualy, and Steve rode smart to come in 17th.
2012 UCI DH#6 – Val D’Isere, Santa Cruz Syndicate Team Video
With rain on and off all week we were expecting a wet race, but were very happy that we had a dry, sunny day for finals! Steve came down with a time of 2:23.10, which put him in 5th at the moment, and would hold for 12th at the end of the day. As the race unfolded Aaron Gwin came down with a time of 2:20.84, which was a time we didn’t think would hold for a win. Greg came down and looked smooth and fast on the big screen, yet his time margin was slightly slower than Gwin. With his super-fans going nuts, he eclipsed Gwin’s time by a half second in the last section to move into the lead. With faster riders coming, Gee Atherton flew in and took the top of the hot seat from Greg.
Then Brook MacDonald was on a flyer and blasted into the finish arena to unseat Gee. With just Josh and Cameron Cole left to come the excitement level on the mountain was in an uproar. Josh was pinning it with a smooth as silk style, yet made a small mistake in the last corner, which cost him a fraction of a second to come across the line in 3rd place. With Cam Cole on track the split time showed that he was over 2 seconds slower at the split which caused the celebration on the hot-seat to start for Brook’s first world cup win ever!
The podium was one of the most fun podiums ever with a proper DJ whipping the huge crowd up into excitement. They had cheerleaders with pom-poms dancing to routines and then the awards started. Greg and his dead ringer super-fan Ivan Ricquart had a bit of fun and Ivan went on the podium with Greg’s helmet on then Greg entered from the other side of the stage. Even Gee thought Ivan was Greg as the resemblance is uncanny (except the short-shorts!!). Josh made his entrance to the stage and had a great celebration when Brook came on to take the top spot. Lots of champagne was sprayed, and some sipped, and fun was had after a great week of racing!!
Josh was pleased with his 3rd career podium and said, “From the town you could see the whole track and it looked awesome! It was steep and fairly natural. After walking it on Wednesday I was thinking it would be a lot of fun! There was a lot of single track down it, which obviously is great fun to ride, but generally when a world cup hits it huge holes grow fast. On Friday I had a good qualifying run that put me in 2nd place, even though there was a lot of carnage with the top riders, which produced quite an unusual set of results! Despite this I had the fastest top split so I knew that it wasn’t down to the crashes that I had done so well.
On race day my practice went really well. Then I just had to control my nerves for the next 4 hours! Fortunately when I got to the top of the hill me and Brook had a right laugh listening to tunes and laughing at each other’s dancing. Dougie cut my mudguard off (reverse psychology on the weather gods!), gave me some knuckles and it was party time! My run was pretty good. I made some minor mistakes but I was really happy with how it turned out and 3rd place was a very cool reward. I was buzzing for Brook in 1st place as well! Getting my second podium of the year was a great feeling and one that I could get used to!”
Steve was happy with his result after coming back from injuries and says, “It was cool to have our Santa Cruz boss and his family in the pits this weekend. We have a great family feel on the Syndicate and these guys are a huge part of what we do at the races. I was pleased to get back near the top ten today. It’s been a tough season for me with injuries so far, so today makes me feel a bit better. My V-10 has been running sweet all weekend thanks to Dougie Fresh and Marshy. Ratboy had an awesome ride for 3rd and its great to see his confidence building. Greg has unfortunately lost the overall to Gwin, but there is still 2nd to play for so he will be firing for finals. Thanks to Sessy for looking after her boys and all our Sponsors for the wicked support!”
Elite Men’s Results
1st Brook MacDonald 2:19.47
2nd Gee Atherton 2:19.97
3rd JOSH BRYCELAND (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 2:20.15
4th GREG MINNAAR (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 2:20.34
5th Aaron Gwin 2:20.84
6th Mick Hannah 2:21.37
7th Marc Beaumont 2:21.58
8th Cameron Cole 2:21.77
9th Remi Thirion 2:21.93
10th Andrew Neethling 2:22.11
12th STEVE PEAT (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 2:23.10
Men’s Overall Results
1st Aaron Gwin 1260 (enough points to earn overall title)
2nd GREG MINNAAR (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 1000
3rd Gee Atherton 981
4th Steve Smith 680
5th Danny Hart 650
6th Sam Hill 627
7th JOSH BRYCELAND (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 589
8th Brook MacDonald 583
9th Mick Hannah 546
10th Marc Beaumont 501
30th STEVE PEAT (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 255
Soure: Kathy Sessler