Val di Sole played host to the first meeting of all three mountain bike racing disciplines at the same venue this season, these being cross-country eliminator (XCE), cross-country (XCO) and downhill (DHI).

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Current Downhill World Champion Greg Minnaar descends the technical, steep course in the Trentino region of Italy during the second round of the UCI Downhill World Cup Series at Val di Sole at the weekend. Photo credit: Kathy Sessler/Santa Cruz Syndicate

Minnaar qualified seventh fastest on the technical, steep course in the Trentino region of Italy behind fastest qualifier Gee Atherton (GBR). His final run saw him clock the third fastest time and claim the bronze medal 1.250 seconds off the pace of race winner Gee Atherton (GBR) and second-placed Canadian Steve Smith, who clocked 3 minutes 12.185 seconds and 3 minutes 13.186 seconds respectively.

“Going into Val Di Sole I knew I needed to build my confidence,” admitted Greg. “We had the suspension set up really well on the first day and that helped me make the most of practice. I was riding well in the qualifier but had an issue in my run. In the final, Marshy (mechanic) made a last minute final adjustment to my bike to make it feel super comfortable. I had a good top section, then hit a loose rock and made a big mistake. I feel that finishing 3rd on that kind of a track, with the run I had, shows we are still moving in the right direction. I’m really looking forward to the next World Cup in Andorra!”

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Greg Minnaar (Santa Cruz Syndicate) on the podium for his third place during the second round of the UCI Downhill World Cup Series at Val di Sole at the weekend. Photo credit: Kathy Sessler/Santa Cruz Syndicate

Saturday belonged to the XCO competitors as South Africans took to the start in the elite, under-23 and junior age categories.

The elite men’s race saw World Champion Nino Schurter (SUI) claim victory in 1 hour 32 minutes and 47 seconds, with Julien Absalon second (01:32:50) and Olympic Champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) third (01:34:34).

Rourke Croeser finished 17th in the under-23 category men’s race, six-and-a-half minutes behind the race winner Markus Schulte-Luenzum from Germany. Candice Neethling earned 15th place in her under-23 women’s race, finishing 10 minutes 18 seconds behind leader Yana Belomoyna from Ukraine (01:22:45).

Promising junior Alan Hatherly put on a great performance and finished 22nd in his race, six-and-a-half minutes off the pace of New Zealander Samuel Gaze (01:12:36). Representing the junior women was Bianca Haw, who crossed the finish line in 24th place, sixteen minutes behind the winner Olga Terentyeva from Russia (01:12:07).

The XCE kicked off the weekend’s action on Thursday evening, and Philip Buys achieved his highest finish in this discipline so far. Buys recorded a fifth place result, with Austrian Daniel Federspiel taking top honours.

South Africans will compete against these international athletes and many more on home soil for the 2013 UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships, to be held at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September. More information can be found atwww.mtbworldchamps.co.za.

Summary of Results – DHI Val di Sole – 16 June 2013

1 Gee Atherton (GBR) 3:12.185

2 Steve Smith (CAN) 3:13.186 +1.001

3 Greg Minnaar (RSA) 3:13.435 +1.250

Summary of Results – XCO Val di Sole – 15 June 2013

Elite Men:

1 Nino Schurter (SUI) 01:32:47

2 Julien Absalon (FRA) 01:32:50 +0:03

3 Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) 01:34:44 +1:57

71 Philip Buys (RSA) -2laps

80 Renay Groustra (RSA) -3laps

U23 Men:

1 Markus Schulte-Luenzum (GER) 01:22:43

2 Daniele Braidot (ITA) 01:24:02 +1:19

3 Nicholas Pettina (ITA) 01:24:47 +2:04

17 Rourke Croeser (RSA) 01:29:22 +6:39

74 Paul Rodenbach (RSA) -3laps

Luke Roberts (DNF)

Junior Men:

1 Samuel Gaze (NZL) 01:12:36

2 Gioele Bertolini (ITA) 01:13:21 +0:45

3 Jan Vastl (CZE) 01:14:01 +1:25

22 Alan Hatherly (RSA) 01:19:14 +6:38

60 Louw Kriel (RSA) -1lap

U23 Women:

1 Yana Belomoyna (UKR) 01:22:45

2 Rebecca Henderson (AUS) 01:23:20 +0:35

3 Andrea Waldis (SUI) 01:24:13 +1:28

15 Candice Neethling (RSA) 01:33:03 +10:18

Junior Women:

1 Olga Terentyeva (RUS) 01:12:07

2 Emilie Collomb (ITA) 01:12:40 +0:33

3 Greta Weithaler (ITA) 01:12:40 +0:33

24 Bianca Haw (RSA) 01:28:21 +16:14