Stop off at the Santa Cruz Syndicate tent at the right time during a race weekend and you’ll see quite a line up on show.
Fans flock to the tent for a sight of Josh “Ratboy” Bryceland, the quirky fans-favourite who rose to the plate and claimed the World Cup crown last year. His mentor Steve Peat is even more of a pull; the downhill legend whose done more for his sport than anyone else, a former World Champion and a man whose 17 World Cup wins better that of anyone else on tour – until now that is.
That’s because another Syndicate man, Greg Minnaar, just made history after claiming his 17th World Cup top spot at Fort William last weekend. It’s a record-breaking fifth time he’s won in the Scottish highlands, having previously taken it in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Now, the 33-year-old South African may be a living legend in the world of mountain biking, but it’s safe to say that even after qualifying in fifth, few would’ve expected him to go on and outshine the rest. Minnaar had a hit and miss season last term after all.
The three-time World Champion and three-time World Cup overall winner was carrying a bit of a knock at Lourdes in the season opener though, and he still took 22nd. A further revision of his record, and it becomes all so obvious that he was meant to win on Sunday.
Greg’s now got five titles at Fort William spanning 11 years. A rather impressive record, we think you’ll agree, and it seems to add an extra touch to the story that he would equal his teammate’s World Cup record with a win at Fort William 10 years after Peaty himself – who is currently out with injury – first won in the highlands.
Minnaar doesn’t just have those five titles to boast his dominance in Scotland either. It’s also worth remembering that in the 2007 World Champs on the course, he finished fourth despite riding half the race with a broken scapular and dislocated shoulder. Anyone who regularly rides will know how nuts that is.
He’s clearly still got it too, and it’ll be very interesting indeed to see if he can go on and surpass Peaty with another win this season. When you’re talking about a man of this calibre, you can never rule anything out anyway. A true mountain biking legend, and a man who has well and truly mastered what is regularly called “the toughest track on tour”.