Greg Minnaar leaves Santa Cruz Syndicate after 16 years – so what's next for the greatest downhiller of all-time?

Greg Minnaar in the rainbow jersey at Fort William
Will we ever see Minnaar in the rainbow jersey again? (Image credit: Paul Brett)

There's no doubt Greg Minnaar is the greatest downhill mountain bike racer of all time, the South African downhill legend has pulled the coveted rainbow jersey over his head four times in what has been a glittering career. He also has an unmatched 23 World Cup career victories, the majority of the 42-year-old South African's success has been with the Santa Cruz Syndicate team, a dream partnership that has been ripping up the downhill playbook for 16 years, but all good things come to an end, and the announcement no mountain bike fan wanted to hear, has happened – the GOAT, Greg Minnaar, is leaving Syndicate Santa Cruz. 

The Santa Cruz Syndicate released a statement confirming the news yesterday.
"After 16 epic years of racing, puzzling, and making incredible memories together, Greg Minnaar is hanging up his Syndicate jersey. We wish Greg nothing but the best and want to extend a huge thanks for everything he and the Santa Cruz Syndicate have accomplished together. From the dominant 00s to his current status as the Greatest Of All Time. It’s been one hell of a ride." 

However, before you go crying into your Boerewors at the thought of never seeing the great man racing in Downhill World Cups and World Championships again, it just might not be the end, as the Making Up The Numbers podcast yesterday fueled the rumor that Minnaar might be joining the Norco Downhill Team for the 2024 season. 

Greg Minnaar riding at Fort William

Minnaar onboard the Santa Cruz V10 at Fort William (Image credit: Paul Brett)

The announcement is a genuine surprise, as fans, myself included, assumed Greg would hang up his goggles and end his career with the team he has enjoyed so much success with. If the rumors turn out to be true, and I hope they are, it could be an interesting year ahead for both Minnaar and Norco. As Norco has confirmed they are working on a new prototype high-pivot downhill race bike, and Minnaar has expressed mixed feelings about high-pivot bikes in the past, and it would be vastly different to the Santa Cruz V10 he has helped develop and been for the last 16 years. 

Greg Minnaar celebrating world champs win at Val di Sole in 2021

Greg Minnaar celebrating his 2021 World Championship win in Val di Sole (Image credit: Getty Images)

So time will tell, when or if it happens, but it would be a shame to see the GOAT’s career end in a whimper and without at least one more run at glory. You may have guessed I'm a massive fan of Greg, and over the years I've had the opportunity to shoot him in action at World Championships and World Cup races around the world. I've also spoken to him a fair bit and although you hear the phrase about "never meeting your heroes", in Minnaar's case I wasn't disappointed, he is a genuine, down-to-earth guy, and happy to take the time to chat. 

I've listed his huge list of Syndicate Santa Cruz wins below, my own Minnar highlight was at his fourth World Championship win at Val di Sole in 2021, and two images one of Greg (above), holding his Santa Cruz V10 in the air after crossing the line, with me in shot taking his image. The other is on the podium, after the ritual champagne spraying, he looked straight down the barrel of my lens, as if he remembered me, and gave me the shot (below). Out of the thousands of images I've taken in bike racing, this is probably my all-time favorite. It's a shot I sent to Greg, and we had arranged for him to sign a big printed version at this year's Worlds in Scotland, but it's unfinished business, as I never made it due to other commitments. Maybe next year at Fort 'Bill though...

Greg Minnaar on the podium celebrating his Val di Sole World Champs win

Minnaar looks right down my lens at Val di Sole in 2021 (Image credit: Paul Brett)

Whatever happens we wish Greg Minnaar the best wherever he ends up in 2024, and hopefully see him line-up at Fort William in May.

Minnaar's Santa Cruz Syndicate wins

  • 2008: 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Series Overall
  • 2009: 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William, Scotland, 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Bromont, Canada
  • 2011: 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William, Scotland, 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, La Bresse, France
  • 2012: 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Leogang, Austria, 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • 2013: 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
  • 2016: 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William, Scotland
  • 2017: 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Fort William, Scotland, 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, Lenzerheide, Switzerland
  • 2021: 1st DH, UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, Val di Sole, Italy
Paul Brett
Staff writer

Based in Edinburgh, Paul Brett is a staff writer for BikePerfect.com. He has been an avid cyclist for as long as he can remember, initially catching the mountain biking bug in the 1990s, and raced mountain bikes for over a decade before injury cut short a glittering career. He’s since developed an obsession for gravel riding and recently has dabbled in the dark art of cyclocross. A fan of the idea of bikepacking he has occasionally got involved and has ridden routes like the North Coast 500, Scotland and the Via Francigena (Pilgrim Route), Italy.


Current rides: Marin Alpine Trail 2, Ribble 725, Cube Stereo 160

Height: 175cm