Recently returned from several European World Cup races, Burry Stander (Mr Price / GT Bicycles) will be the favorite in the elite men's race at the final round of the Mazda MTN National Mountain Bike Series cross country race in Mpumalanga, South Africa, on Saturday, May 17.
Stander, who finished seventh and 13th at two of the spring UCI World Cups, will be looking for a race win, but he's not part of the battle for the series title as he has competed in just two of the four events thus far. Stander has his sights firmly set on the Olympics in Beijing in August. He will be the only man from South Africa racing the cross country.
Looking toward this weekend, Stander said, "I'll be starting with a pair of legs that aren't too fresh because I've been training and racing a lot, but I'm lining up to try and win as always and I'll be going flat out.
"The course at Mankele is new and it looks like fun. I'm quite excited to be racing at a new mountain bike park in South Africa."
The series title contest, featuring six laps on a 7km loop, will be between Namibians Mannie Heymans (MTN Energade) and Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin DCM), Andrew Warr, Justice Makhale (USN) and Johan van Zyl (Mr Price GT), all of whom are separated by small points margins.
Warr and Makhale have built up their points collection at provincial and national series races, while Van Zyl, Heymans and Bassingthwaighte have been consistently dominant at the national series events. The presence of South African champion Brandon Stewart (USN) and African champion Melt Swanepoel (MTN Energade) will only make the race a tougher battle.