South African Greg Minnaar was mobbed by spectators after winning the downhill race Sunday at the UCI World Cup downhill event in Pietermaritzburg.
Minnaar received a reception normally reserved for South African football, rugby union and cricket stars after pipping Australian Mike Hannah for first place on a forest-lined course near the KwaZulu-Natal city.
Competition was fierce with 28 finalists cracking the four-minute barrier and Minnaar clocked 3:43.44 after sailing over jumps and pedaling furiously through flatter sections.
Hannah was last to race and finished 2.25 seconds slower to settle for second spot ahead of Englishman Steve Peat on a three-kilometer course littered with sharp drop-offs and jumps.
Tracy Moseley of England turned 30 in style by winning the women’s downhill race in 4:20.15 after Emmeline Ragot and Sabrina Jonnier of France surrendered the lead.
The first world mountain bike event to be staged in Africa attracted 16,000 spectators over a holiday weekend to far exceed organizers’ expectations, and a course that gave fitness equality with skill drew widespread praise.