Burry Stander (Specialized/USN) rode to victory in the elite cross country race at the African Mountain Bike Championships at Jonkershoek, near Stellenbosch, on Saturday.
"It was a most enjoyable ride," said a happy Stander afterward.
There are very good reasons why Stander enjoyed his race. For a change, he had no punctures or any other mechanical problems which meant that he was not involved in a frantic chase to catch up with the race leaders.
"I had the near perfect race," Stander said.
His winning time for the seven-lap race was one hour, 42 minutes and eight seconds. Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin-adidas) finished second in 1:48:08, Philip Buys (Garmin-adidas) was third, and Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Qhubeka) was fourth.
Despite his comfortable win, Stander had some praise for his rivals. "The start of the race was certainly one of the best. Everybody raced flat out over the first kilometer. I had never experienced anything like that in a South African cross country race. I only managed to take the lead halfway through the first lap.
"From then on, I just made sure that I rode at a comfortable, consistent pace until the end."
Niyonshuti had extra motivation to ride just that little bit harder on Saturday. The reason was that Rwanda's ambassador went to Stellenbosch specially to watch the race and, of course, he did not want to disappoint a government official.
By finishing fourth Niyonshuti made sure that he became the first Rwandan ever to qualify for Olympic Games.
The performance by James Reid (Mr Price/BMC), who won his first ever under 23 cross country race, displayed true class. His winning time for the six-lap race was 1:36:33. Dominic Calitz was second in 1:37:08 and Adrian Louw third in 1:39:13.
Not surprisingly, Yolandé Speedy (MTN/Qhubeka) won the elite women's cross country race. She rode in front during the entire race for a winning time of 1:31:59.
As far as the women's racing was concerned, the highlight was undoubtedly the performance by the 18-year-old Candice Neethling (Bizhub). As with Reid, it was the first time she raced as an under 23 rider.
The moment the starter's gun boomed, Neethling set off like a rocket on fire, chasing Speedy. But, as misfortune would have it, her bike's chain came off on one of the really technical rocky sections.
She had no choice but to stop and get off her bike to see if she could untangle the mess. It must have been a frustrating few minutes for Neethling, watching all the riders in the elite group going past her. By the time she had her chain back where it belongs, she was stone last.
But Neethling refused to allow this setback to triumph over her. Like a seasoned professional she got back onto her bike and began her big chase.
"I just thought by myself that I might as well give it a go. Then slowly, one by one, I began to reel in the riders."
Neethling's gutsy performance was the talk of the spectators because, during the last three laps of the race, she achieved almost the same lap times as Speedy.
It is not surprising, therefore, that she won the under 23 race quite comfortably, beating Mariske Strauss by more than two minutes and Caitlin de Wet (Bizhub) by nearly five minutes.
Brendon Davids (Jeep) won the junior men's race, with Gert Heyns second and Luke Roberts third.
Race note: Under 23 winners Reid and Neethling, junior winners Davids and Ashleigh Parker Moffat were all coached by Johan Wykerd.Full results
|1||Burry Stander (South Africa)||1:42:08|
|2||Marc Bassingthwaighte (Namibia)||0:06:00|
|3||Philip Buys (South Africa)||0:08:23|
|4||Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda)||0:12:45|
|5||Erik Kleinhans (South Africa)||0:15:51|
|6||Mannie Heymans (Namibia)||0:18:58|
|7||Oliver Munnik (South Africa)||-1lap|
|8||Ben-Melt Swanepoel (South Africa)||-2laps|
|9||Matthys Beukes (South Africa)|
|10||Andrew Warr (South Africa)|
|11||Renay Groustra (South Africa)||-3laps|
|12||Yannick Lincoln (Mauritius)|
|13||Greig Knox (South Africa)|
|14||Justice Makhale (South Africa)|
|15||Lee John (Zimbabwe)||-4laps|
|16||Marthinus Esmeyer (South Africa)|
|17||Chris Wolhuter (South Africa)|
|DNS||Conrad Stoltz (South Africa)|
|DNS||Arnaud Li Hing Fui (Mauritius)|
|1||Yolande Speedy (South Africa)||1:31:59|
|2||Samantha Sanders (South Africa)||0:12:09|
|3||Yolandi Du Toit (South Africa)||0:13:14|
|4||Karien Van Jaarsveld (South Africa)||0:17:46|
|5||Heletje Van Staden (Namibia)||0:20:03|
|6||Amy-Jane Mundy (South Africa)||-1lap|
|7||Tamryn Taylor (South Africa)||-2laps|
|8||Claudia Slattery (South Africa)||-3laps|
|1||James Reid (South Africa)||1:36:33|
|2||Dominic Calitz (South Africa)||0:00:35|
|3||Adriaan Louw (South Africa)||0:02:40|
|4||Rourke Croeser (South Africa)||0:06:49|
|5||Louis-Bresler Knipe (South Africa)|
|6||Bryce Munro (South Africa)||0:06:58|
|7||Lourens Luus (South Africa)||0:07:03|
|8||Heiko Reecker (Namibia)||0:08:07|
|9||Ryan Ellis (South Africa)||0:10:01|
|10||Ruan Du Toit (South Africa)||0:11:42|
|11||Hilton Frost (South Africa)||0:17:20|
|12||Mark Bridges (South Africa)||-1lap|
|13||Shaun Silver (South Africa)|
|14||Michael Casey (South Africa)|
|15||Robert Frost (South Africa)||-2laps|
|16||Darryn Purtell (South Africa)|
|17||Frank Adrian (Namibia)||-3laps|
|18||Dwayne Klingbiel (South Africa)|
|19||Bonani Xatasi (South Africa)||-4laps|
|DNF||Craig Boyes (South Africa)|
|DNF||Jan-Hendrik Verdoes (Namibia)|
|DNS||Colin Brent (South Africa)|
|1||Candice Neethling (South Africa)||1:14:29|
|2||Mariske Strauss (South Africa)||0:02:12|
|3||Caitlin De Wet (South Africa)||0:04:33|
|4||Emily Clarke (South Africa)||0:18:44|
|1||Brendon Davids (South Africa)||1:22:02|
|2||Gert Heyns (South Africa)||0:00:14|
|3||Luke Roberts (South Africa)||0:02:51|
|4||Patrick Belton (South Africa)||0:07:01|
|5||Richardt Ferreira (South Africa)||0:07:34|
|6||Dylan Hattingh (South Africa)||0:08:16|
|7||Werner Van Heerden (South Africa)||0:08:46|
|8||Stephan Reyneke (South Africa)||0:10:10|
|9||Murray Starr (South Africa)||0:10:28|
|10||Olivier Le Court De Billot (Mauritius)||0:14:13|
|11||Sebastien Tyack (Mauritius)||-1lap|
|12||Ruan Erasmus (South Africa)|
|13||Ryan Gibbons (South Africa)|
|14||Luke Mashiana (South Africa)|
|15||Matthew Schofield (South Africa)|
|16||Mathieu Le Blanc (Mauritius)|
|DNF||Evan Van Der Spuy (South Africa)|
|DNF||Declan Sidey (South Africa)|
|DNF||Kyle Dorkin (South Africa)|
|DNF||Paul Rodenbach (South Africa)|
|1||Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt (South Africa)||1:01:43|
|2||Vera Adrian (Namibia)||0:02:10|
|3||Hayley Smith (South Africa)||0:02:54|
|4||Linda Van Wyk (South Africa)||0:03:57|
|5||Simone Vosloo (South Africa)||0:04:23|
|6||Savanagh Vosloo (South Africa)||0:05:12|
|7||Tarryn Brent (South Africa)||0:10:19|
|8||Andrea De Boer (South Africa)||0:13:37|
|9||Tayla Odendaal (South Africa)||0:14:07|
|10||Renthea Boshoff (South Africa)||-1lap|
|11||Pia Carstens (South Africa)|
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