Shoe problems pose an extra challenge for Stander in Mankele

Not even an unexpected head-start helped his rivals as Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized) overcame an unusual early setback to claim his second major win of 2009 at the second round of the MTN National Cup cross-country race held at Mankele in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa on Saturday.

The 2008 Under 23 World Cup champion, who convincingly won round one in Stellenbosch last month, broke the cleat on his left shoe when he hit a rock on the first of six laps. He rode the remainder of the lap with the damaged shoe and had to borrow a pair of shoes for the second lap. By the time he reached the Tech Zone for the start of his third lap, his spare shoes had been located and he was able to tackle the second half of the race without incident.

The setback saw Stander rejoin the race in seventh place, but by the end of lap four, he was already back in the lead with a 45-second advantage over his rivals and went on to clock a winning time of two hours and 18 minutes.

Second place went to current South African national cross-country champion Brandon Stewart with Max Knox (both DCM Chrome) rounding out the podium places.

"I usually have my spare shoes in the Tech Zone, but had forgotten them today. Luckily one of the women who had just finished racing had Specialized shoes with Crank Brothers cleats so I rode a lap with her shoes to limit my losses while my dad rushed off to fetch my spare shoes," said Stander.

In the women's race, Stellenbosch winner Sara Muhl (Jeep) captured her second consecutive victory ahead of Under 23 rider, Heletjie van Staden (Schwinn) with Janneke Laesk taking third place. One of the pre-race favourites, Tania Raats (Bell Equipment) suffered mechanical problems when her rear derailleur broke, forcing her out of the race after just one lap.

Andrew Neethling (Trek) and Vicky Phillips (Fox) won the downhill. Neethling was the favorite going into the race, but Phillips saw the door open after the winner of round one, Rika Olivier, crashed in a practice session and had to sit out the racing action.

Round three of the MTN National Cup Series will take place in George on March 14-15, and it will double as the national championships.

See Cyclingnews' full coverage of the second round of the MTN National Cup.

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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews.  She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.