Stander repeats South African title win ahead of Olympic Games

Speedy defends title with narrow win over Neethling

Superb cross country racing and an amazing display of upcoming talent resulted in one of the best South African National Mountain Bike Championship events in a long while with defending champions Burry Stander and Yolande Speedy retaining their elite national titles.

A technical 5.4km cross country course with 120m of ascent had been prepared by Mankele MTB Park on the outskirts of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, and coupled with excellent weather conditions on Saturday, July 21 made for some exciting racing.

"The racing was close and at a high standard," said Cycling SA-MTB Technical Commissioner Grevile Ruddock. "In the UCI categories (junior, U23, elite), the Championship was decided in the final lap, and most by seconds or in a sprint."

Fierce racing ensued in the elite men's race, won by Burry Stander (Specialized Racing). Stander completed six laps in 1:33:38. USN's Philip Buys (elite) finished second in 01:35:13, with U23 category racer Rourke Croeser (Orange Monkey Cannondale) in third place in 01:36:09.

Luke Roberts (RE:CM) and Arno Du Toit (Epicsports/GT/USN) finished second and third respectively in the U23 men's category, recording the same finish time of 01:40:09), while Max Knox, who has been racing marathon events for the past few years, rounded out the elite men's podium in 01:40:12.

Stander attested that the racing was quite close and that over the years, the course had become easier to race on, and it was harder to create gaps during the race. "I attacked a few times during the race on the same climb, but Phil (Buys) managed to stay with me each time, but on the last lap, I could see he had tired a bit and when I attacked again I managed to ride clear of him," said Stander.

"The course has a lot of rocks and trees where it is easy to push hard and make mistakes, and get a mechanical. I rode really well with no incidents and the racing with Phil was really good. We are both in great shape for this weekend's World Cup in France," said Stander.

When talking about the raised level of the local competition in cross country racing, Stander was in full praise of the young talent: "I noticed that there are a lot less mechanicals during the race, so not only is the fitness of the riders improving but there is an overall improvement in the general way in which they approach the race. The numbers in the youngsters is definitely on the up as well, which is good to see."

Apart from this weekend's World Cup in Val d'Isere (France), Stander, Buys and Candice Neethling will also be tackling the Olympic Games in London two weeks later. "The London course is a high speed kind of course, not the toughest course, but the profile is similar to Mankele's although the technical aspects are not quite the same," said Stander.

In the elite women's race Yolande Speedy (Epicsports/GT/USN), Candice Neethling (BMC SA) and Samantha Sanders waged a titanic battle with Speedy (elite) taking top honours completing the five-lap race in 1:36:31.

U23 racer Neethling finished in second place two seconds later with Sanders (elite) third overall in 01:37:14. Amy McDougall rounded out the elite women's podium (01:45:17) while Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt (BMC SA) and Mariske Strauss finished second (01:48:11) and third (01:53:05) respectively in the U23 women's category.

For Speedy, who is almost fully recovered from her broken wrist from earlier in the year, the full confidence of tackling the much talked about drop-off was not quite there, and it almost cost her the victory.

"Candice made an early break, and Sam and I were fighting for second place for most of the race," said Speedy. "Sam went into the last lap with a 10-second lead and Candice with 22 seconds. I caught Sam on the first climb and pushed as hard as I could to try and get enough of a gap before the drop. Catching Candice on the short steep climb after the wooden bridge drop off was a surprise, and I knew I would have to give 100 percent with no mistakes to keep a lead."

With Neethling and Sanders firing on all cylinders after racing World Cups in Europe, Speedy was challenged from the start right until the very end.

"Fortunately we were both taking the second chicken run, and I got into the last singletrack section with a few seconds lead. One slip out through a corner lost me some time, but I came into the last BMX section in the lead and gave it everything I had left until the finish line with Candice on my wheel."

Speedy said that it was one of the closest, most nail biting finishes she can remember in the women's cross country category. "Great racing by both Sam and Candice, and I wish Candice everything of the best going forward to the Olympics!" said Speedy.

In the junior men's race, Patrick Belton (Team Jeep) achieved top honours, completing five laps in 01:27:06, with Kyle Dorkin (Ellsworth) second (01:29:20) and Paul Rodenbach (Helderberg Cycle World) third (01:30:01).

In the junior women's race, Linda van Wyk (bizhub-FCF) took the victory, racing her three laps in 01:05:22, with Nicole Erasmus second (01:06:05) and Tayla Odendaal (Contego/28E) third (01:10:20).

"The outstanding aspect for me was the superb racing, and in all categories," said Ruddock. "This can only mean that our sport is in good health. Then, the record entry in the youngest age groups was testament, I believe, to the success and importance of the school series. We have never had 14 entries in a national Nipper race!"

Full Results

Elite men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Burry Stander1:33:38 
2Philip Buys0:01:35 
3Max Knox0:06:34 
4Louis-Bresler Knipe0:11:09 
5Renay Groustra0:11:31 
-1lapStuart Marais  
-2lapsJ P Jung  
-2lapsGrant Kruger  
-3lapsBraam Le Grange  
Elite women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Yolande Speedy1:36:31 
2Samantha Sanders0:00:43 
3Amy Mcdougall0:08:46 
4Cherie Vale0:13:17 
-1lapNedene Cahill  
U23 men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rourke Croeser1:36:09 
2Luke Roberts0:04:00 
3Arno Du Toit  
4Lourens Luus0:09:28 
5Jason Meaton0:09:45 
6Shaun-Craig Silver0:09:58 
7Johnny Diedericks0:11:35 
8Travis Walker0:14:18 
-1lapXander Botha  
-2lapsJedson Tooms  
-2lapsBastiaan Labuschagne  
-2lapsStephan Reyneke  
-3lapsMark Bridges  
-3lapsAlastair Stedman  
-4lapsClintin Cogzell  
U23 women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Candice Neethling1:36:33 
2Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt0:11:38 
3Mariske Strauss0:16:32 
4Simone Vosloo0:21:44 
5Emily Clarke0:22:21 
6Angela Egeland0:22:46 
-1lapAndrea De Boer  
-1lapNadia Packham-Thiessen  
Junior men
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Patrick Belton1:27:06 
2Kyle Dorkin0:02:14 
3Paul Rodenbach0:02:55 
4Werner Van Heerden0:06:15 
5Jannes Buijs0:07:32 
6Max Sullivan0:10:38 
7Declan Sidey0:14:55 
8Alexander Kuhn0:15:40 
9Edwill O'Neill0:15:46 
10P J Luus0:17:13 
11Kyle Bradford0:21:11 
-1lapMarcel Marais  
-1lapJeandre Slabbert  
-2lapsFerdi Botha  
-3lapsKeaton Korevaar  
-4lapsDylan Hattingh  
-4lapsRory Van Bergen  
-4lapsCharles Mathewson  
Junior women
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Linda Van Wyk1:05:22 
2Nicole Erasmus0:00:43 
3Tayla Odendaal0:04:58 
4Marie-Christin Kempf0:11:23 
5Natasha Emmerick0:26:41 
6Michaele Van Den Heever0:33:40 

 

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