South African Downhill MTB racer Greg Minnaar is a global icon in the sport of mountain biking. “Greg joined the Syndicate in 2008 after the infamous Honda program came to an end” recounts Steve Peat, a long time team mate of Greg’s on the Syndicate. Greg and the Syndicate announced his departure from the team this week.
UPDATE: The popular rumour was that Greg would be joining the Norco Factory racing team for 2024 onwards and that news was confirmed in early January. Greg will be taking a leadership role in the team and has also confirmed he will be on the start lines of the 2024 Downhill World Cup series. Learn more about that partnership here.
Cover image credit: Shimano
Santa Cruz announce Greg Minnaar to be leaving the Syndicate
The big news announced by Santa Cruz on 4 December was quite earth shattering in the gravity mountain biking world, and even beyond. Greg has been synonymous with the Syndicate for the last 16 seasons of World Cup Downhill Racing. Few riders can boast to have been on the same brand of bicycle for that amount of time, and that speaks to the synergy of Greg with the bike as well as the people who make up Santa Cruz and the Syndicate.
The Greatest Of All Time has “seen multiple generations of racers, tangled with the best, and has been at the forefront of radical changes in the sport” to continue in Peaty’s words from the above video. Greg is a master of his trade and also one of the most professional riders the circuit has ever seen. He’s an all out racer but also a savvy businessman.
Over the last few years, Greg has formed some partnerships with big brands outside the MTB industry, such as Mous and Devil’s Peak Beer, and a move such as we’re seeing from him here would have no doubt been thoroughly calculated and considered. Where is he off to next? Well here are some of the potential scenarios.
Where to next for Mr Minn
The most talked about rumour at this point is a move to Norco. The Canadian bike brand is well-established in the racing scene. According to George Thompson on the Making Up The Numbers Podcast Episode with Andreas Kolb (11:50 onwards) released on December 2nd 2023 they’ve heard the rumour from three unconnected sources. More often than not, when we hear rumours of this consistency in the MTB industry, they prove to be true.
Norco is currently developing a new downhill bike that features a high pivot design, which may conflict with Greg’s preferences, as he voiced them in the video below when testing new design options for the latest Santa Cruz V10 (4:50 onwards). This is the only real conflicting point of the rumour but it by no means rules out the option.
We will have to wait to see what truly is next for Mr Minn. Is he done with Downhill World Cup racing yet? I don’t think so. Could he be sticking with Santa Cruz in a new team format or in a non-racing setup perhaps? It is hard to look past the consistency of the Norco rumour.
UPDATE: Greg is confirmed to be racing for Norco Factory Racing in 2024.
“After plenty of speculation, we are excited to officially welcome the GOAT himself to the Norco family. Hello, Greg Minnaar.
With a racing career spanning more than two decades, Greg has won a record 23 World Cup races, collected three World Cup Series overall wins and four World Championship titles making him one of the most decorated athletes in men’s Downhill Mountain biking. He’s not only the best racer of his generation, but multiple generations and he’s bringing all that experience and expertise to Norco Bikes via the Team Director role for Norco Factory Racing, starting from this year.
In his multi-faceted role with the Norco Factory Racing Team, Greg has big plans. Not only is he focused on working with the Norco engineers to develop equipment that will change the game, he is committed to building the fastest team between the tape. Mentoring the current members of the team and finding and nurturing the next generation of talent for the Norco youth development team, The Source – the future is bright.” – Norco Factory Racing
Read the interview with Greg here.