FINALLY THE BRIDE, PEATY WINS THE BIG ONE, MINNAAR HIS BRIDESMAID.
Sept. 8, 2009 - Canberra, Australia
Finally in the record books, Santa Cruz Syndicate’s Steve Peat (SRAM/RockShox), makes history as he bags the big one winning the UCI Downhill World Championships in Canberra, Australia. Syndicate’s Greg Minnaar finishes a mere .05 behind Peat in the closest margin in World Championship history, and Mick Hannah takes the last medal just .69 behind Peat.
I’ve just finished dropping off the rental van and riding my bike home from Avis in Temecula, which concludes the last ground logistics from the Syndicate’s World Champs trip. I can now start on this press release and I just thought I’d write it from my point of view. There will be plenty of releases with the standard interviews, so I’ll give you my take on the lead up to the World Champs and how we got there.
Riding home today across the meadow with the wind blowing through the tall grass reminded me of how we started the season on safari in South Africa which resembled the open meadow I just rode across. The season was wide open then and full of promise, and now we are writing the final chapters to the 2009 downhill race season with most of the promise realized.
As I pedaled my jet-lagged legs up the single-track I thought what makes this world champs win so special is the emotion. At the end of the day it is just a bike race, someone rode their bike fast down a hill and was faster than the others. That is just a fact. But what makes it so special is that the man who did it has had a 15 year career of winning every race but the world championships, and to finally do so, on his terms, makes it gratifying for every fan, sponsor, support crew, and every family member involved, or who has ever been involved in Steve’s career. These people make up the building blocks of the foundation on which Steve can excel, and every sacrifice Steve has made, his family has made, every effort his support team put into him, it was a payday; one whopping huge payday of relief, respect, excitement and satisfaction for a job well done. With tears flowing, a choked up Steve said, “This is the way I wanted to win it, with all the top guys having their best race, no mechanicals, no crashes, totally legit. It is going to take some time for this to sink in.”
The road to Canberra started with the 6:00 am arrival of the Syndicate into Sydney a week and a half before the race to acclimate to the time zone. First stop, Bondi Beach for breakfast on a fine spring day. Doug was the only brave soul to take a dip while the others enjoyed some Frisbee on the fine sand beach. Checking into the Holiday Inn within view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House young Bryce and I took a dip in the rooftop pool. Paul Begg was meeting us later to show us the hotspots, but the boys needed fancy shoes to get in the clubs so shopping we went. Minnaar tested his shoes out doing his version of the moonwalk while Josh picked out a pair of very pointed shoes, and Steve pimped himself out in a slick version of slip-ons.
Hitting the rooftop for evening cocktails we were treated to a bat show, thousands and thousands of bats were flying past us coming from the Botanical Gardens on their way to find a nice evening meal. Ben Monroe picked us up and whisked us off to the most amazing Thai dinner we’ve ever had. Meanwhile the UK mechanics arrived and joined us for the rest of the evening’s entertainment. A few of us got some sleep, but some were in the hot-tub rooftop at 6:00 am soaking in the sunrise.
Lunchtime we hit Deus, a vintage and custom motorcycle shop and café that is a must stop for anyone passing through Sydney. After lunch we made the hour and a half drive to Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains for four nights of rest, relaxation and some training rides. I made sure the boys were eating well and we had some great meals, the standout item being the Sweet Potato Soup recipe that Steve gave me.
Scott Sharples and Bryn Atkinson live nearby, and Brian Lopes flew in and we had a neighborhood full of talent. Some went golfing and hiking, and some of us went to the movies and saw Inglorious Basterds (a must-see movie). We had a fun rental car and cruised the small main street of Katoomba. Arriving back to the rental house the boys treated the front garden to a trim, well, tore it up in the name of fun, and lucky for us Paul’s brother Michael (the home-owner), took it all in stride and had a laugh with us:
Sadly, Greg received the news that his beloved Grandmother had fallen ill and had be admitted to the hospital. By evening she had slipped into a coma. I worked on flight details to send him home, but by the next morning she had passed. It was a difficult time, a time where this incredible job we have takes a toll, to miss the things in your personal life, and to be a world away when they happen is a downside to the wonderful experiences we do have. Gran would’ve wanted Greg to stay and race, so he put his mind forward to do so.
Leaving the Blue Mountains on Monday we picked up the motor home for shelter for our pit and arrived to Mt. Stromlo in time for walking inspection. Some changes had been made to improve the course, thank goodness, and the organization of the event was quite good. It was a long practice week and we stayed at some apartments where I could cook and we had a lot of fun with Steve and Greg driving the rental car ragged back and forth to the track.
The Pump Track World Championships on Wed. was a highlight of the week. The boys had fun and Mick Hannah won the event, perhaps due to some timing malfunctions, I heard. Everyone had a good time and we hope to see this event again at future World Championships. Friday was a timed practice run where we were able to do a race simulation as staff, and the riders could test themselves on the track.
Saturday was the last practice before Sunday’s race and Greg and Steve both said they had a case of the nerves. Keeping the normal race routine was helpful as we stayed relaxed and calm at the apartments and had distractions like watching the “Hangover” and rugby games on T.V.
Race morning was like clockwork with lunch prepped and mechanics out the door. Ricky Bobby, Doug Hatfield and Martyn Hoyle had the bikes in their rooms and had been over the bikes with a fine toothcomb, everything was in perfect order. Driving to the racetrack Billy Idol’s song, White Wedding was playing and I thought to myself, “Yes it is a good day for a wedding, and Peaty needs to be the bride today”.
We knew from practice that Steve was very fast on the top of the track. British Cycling had timing on the track and Steve was the man to beat on top. Greg was strong on the bottom of the track, so they knew each other was their biggest adversary. Josh was having a fun week and entertained the crowds on the jumps while focusing on the fitness it would take in an all out effort in the race.
As the race neared the end Josh came down and was unable to unseat Nathan Rennie from the hotseat. He struggled a bit in the top of the track and the bottom was a long pedaling challenge, which took it all out of him, and he placed 28th with a time of 2:39.63.
A crowd favorite, Mick Hannah took to the track and when he crossed the line he went into the lead by .14 over Fabien Barel. Pumping his fists in the air he was stoked, he had planned on a win here. Now Steve was on track and fastest at the first split by almost a second, and a second and a half faster at the second split, clearly he was going into the lead. The crowd cheered loudly when he crossed the line and we waited. Sam Hill fell short of Steve’s mark by 2.71 seconds. Greg was next, and slower at the first split by 1.15, then 1.22 down at the second split. I was in suspense knowing he could make time on the pedaling, and then he crossed the line a mere .05 behind Steve. Greg rolled up his sleeves to reveal his oneLife mock tattoo, a tribute to his Grandmother.
Both my boys were in the medals, with just Gee to come. He was down over 2 seconds at the first split, and the second, and we were very hopeful until the last moment when he crossed the line and Steve had done it. Steve collapsed in the back of the hotseat as beer was poured over him. “I wanted to just lay there for a few minutes to soak in the moment, to realize what had just happened.” But the swarm of media surrounding him propelled him to his feet and he pumped his arms in the air celebrating this victory that was so long in coming. Everyone was cheering, it was mayhem, Rob Roskopp and I were crying, Steve was crying, every person there was happy for him.
The podium celebration was outstanding with Steve so excited he sprayed himself in the face with the champagne while Greg and Mick also sprayed him. It was a happy moment, tears running down my face seeing all our efforts and sacrifices realized on that podium. I’m so proud of “my boys”, and the job the Syndicate has done every step of the way. I’d like to thank Rob Roskopp for making it all possible, our top wrenches Ricky Bobby, Doug Hatfield and Martyn Hoyle, and our families, Adele, Jake and George Peat, my husband Chuck who supports me so I can give my all, and every sponsor and fan out there. Steve’s success is our success and the world is celebrating this significant moment in mountain bike history with us.
GOLD MEDAL: STEVE PEAT (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 2:30.33
SILVER MEDAL: GREG MINNAAR (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 2:30.38
BRONZE MEDAL: Mick Hannah 2:31.02
4th: Fabien Barel 2:31.17
5th: Sam Hill 2:33.04
6th: Gee Atherton 2:34.25
7th: Nathan Rennie 2:34.31
8th: Justin Leov 2:34.32
9th: Chris Kovarik 2:34.35
10th: Steve Smith 3:34.50
28th: JOSH BRYCELAND (SANTA CRUZ SYNDICATE) 2:39.63
Thanks to the SYNDICATE Sponsors:
Santa Cruz Bicycles
Troy Lee Designs