Burry Stander was killed in a training accident in South Africa on Thursday, January 3. The cross country mountain bike racer was hit by a taxi while riding.
"It is with great sadness and utter shock that Cycling South Africa confirms the tragic death today of our champion mountain bike rider, Burry Stander," read a statement from the cycling federation late Thursday. "Burry was out on a training ride when he was hit by a motor vehicle in Shelly Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Details of the accident are still being investigated."
One of the top racers on the World Cup circuit, Stander had climbed his way up the ranks, riding in recent years with Specialized Racing. He won the U23 cross country world championship in 2009.
More recently, in 2012, he finished fifth at the London Olympic Games and won the Windham World Cup. He capped off the season with a win at the Singlespeed World Championships in South Africa.
In 2012, he was also married to pro cyclist Cherise Stander, who recently switched from the road to mountain bike racing.
"Burry, who was the most successful mountain bike cyclist the country has ever seen, and whose promising career has been abruptly cut short, was a true icon and sporting role model," read the Cycling South Africa statement. "Not only is this a loss to South African sport, but we have lost a true gentleman who through his professionalism, modesty and humility, constantly showing sheer guts, represented our country with great pride."
In 2011 Stander made history by becoming the first ever South African winner of the Cape Epic mountain bike stage race. Since his Cape Epic debut in 2008, Stander entered the event six times, won 20 stages with teammate Christoph Sauser and walked away with overall honours twice.
Cape Epic founder, Kevin Vermaak said, “This is the saddest news I’ve received since I began my involvement in South African cycling 10 years ago. Burry was our brightest star. I’m upset that the world has been deprived of a true legend in the making. Now we’ll never know just how great he was destined to be. My thoughts are with his wife Cherise and his family, who have always been his biggest supporters.”
David Hyam of the Specialized Racing team said, "It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to our friend and cycling legend Burry, who was tragically snatched away in the prime of his life while training in his home town of Kwazulu-Natal this afternoon. We have lost not only a friend, colleague and teammate, but a true sportsman. He will long be remembered for his humility, his prowess and the gentle manner in which he conducted his life!"
The news comes less than a month after another pro mountain biker, Inaki Lejaretta, was also killed in a training accident in Spain.
Cyclingnews offers its condolences to the friends and family of Stander and his Specialized Racing teammates.