Johannesburg – Downhill world champion Greg Minnaar made a stunning comeback to competitive cycling when he won the opening round of the Southern African MTB Cup series in Pietermaritzburg on Sunday.

Minnaar, w2ho had been out of action after knee surgery last year, posted a winning time of 3 minutes 17.631 seconds.

The Western Cape's Stefan Garlicki (Investec) finished in second place, just 1.351 seconds off the pace, with Samuel Bull (Team Sportsnut) claiming third place, 2.572 seconds off the pace.

Mylene Paynter Kathryn Fourie claimed the women's victory convincingly, with a 30-second advantage over second-placed Kate Stephenson in 04:33.714, with Michane Viljoen claiming third place.

Minnaar said that while he was not yet at his best, he hadfelt better than expected while racing.

“I'm always happy with a win. The guys have whipped up a really nice fresh track. I think my fitness is good, I'm just lacking a bit of power, but that will come. Technically I was okay, a bit rusty here and there, but it's my first week back on a downhill bike after about 6 months, so it's to be expected. The gate (start) was terrible, I lost a bit of time there, but once I was rolling up to speed, it felt fine.” – Sapa