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Greg Minnaar floats to fourth elite men’s world championship in Val di Sole

Finn Iles posts top-10 result in Italy

Photo by: Bartek Wolinksi / Red Bull Content Pool

Greg Minnaar cemented his G.O.A.T. status on Sunday in Val di Sole, winning his fourth world championship title. Not that anyone was doubting the abilities of the South African, who won his first world title way back in 2003.

Minnaar fended off the French onslaught, edging out Benoit Coulanges by just 0.227 seconds. Troy Brosnan earned third, finishing within half a second of Minnaar’s winning time after three and a half minutes of racing.

Finn Iles powered through an injured hand on one of the circuits gnarliest courses and still finished inside the top-10. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Canadians in Val di Sole

Finn Iles led the Canadian effort in Val di Sole, with the 2016 jr. world champion posting a big top-10 finish on Sunday. Iles went 9th, 4.389 seconds back on the demanding “Black Snake” track. All the more impressive considering Iles is still working through an injured hand and Val di Sole is one of the toughest courses physically to race.

Mark Wallace was another 2.2 seconds back, finishing 13th. Lucas Cruz of Pemberton, B.C. posted the 40th fastest time, with Gabe Nuron 49th in his first elite world championships appearance. Elliot Jamieson crossed the line 70th after hitting the dirt early in his race run.

Greg Minnaar on course in Val di Sole. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Minnaar vs. the world

France has dominated international downhill racing for the last several years, and looked poised to walk away with the podium again in 2021. Antoine Vidal set the fastest time early on, holding on to the hot seat for much of the day, until the top-10 riders started coming down the mountain.

In the end, it was Benoit Coulanges finding the podium for France. Coulanges has quietly posted a strong 2021 year, though his results have often been overshadowed by the young Frenchman Thibault Daprela. Daprela looked poised to post another remarkable result in Val di Sole, qualifying fastest before crashing in his race run.

The day belonged to Minnaar, though. The tall South African made the gnarly Val di Sole track look smooth, floating over the Black Snake’s rocks and roots to unseat Coulanges by 0.227 seconds at the finish line. No other rider was able to match the perennial podium threat’s time.

Greg Minnaar: The undisputed G.O.A.T. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Troy Brosnan adds another world championships podium, finishing third behind Minnaar and Coulanges.

Sunday marks Minnaar’s fourth world championship title. Those four wins are spread out over nearly two decades and interspersed with another seven podium finishes from the South African. Minnaar first won worlds in 2003. He then added back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013. The man who never slows down first landed on the podium at world championships a full 20 years ago, when he was third behind Nicolas Vouilloz and Steve Peat in 2001.