Cross-country race split at last minute, but excitement undampened

2008-03-17 00:00

An international rule applied at the last minute saw the separation of the U23 and Elite men at the Mazda MTN South African Cross-country Mountain Bike Championships in Pietermaritzburg at the weekend.

The surprise ruling and wet conditions failed to put a damper on the event and ultimately resulted in two high-quality races.

Previously, the two categories raced together in a Pro-Elite class race at SA Cup and national championships events. However, an International Cycling Union (UCI) official in Pietermaritzburg stepped in as the riders were gathered on the start line and requested the two categories race separately.

In the U23 event, Burry Stander (Mr Price GT) was a dominant victor, securing his third successive national title and his sixth in total.

Stander was in control from the start on a course with lots of short, steep climbs and mud, conditions he’s become accustomed on the European and North American courses. “It was a bit disappointing that they split us, but those are the rules. It did dilute the quality of the field a bit, but I still raced as hard as I could and am very happy to have won another SA champs title,” said Stander.

In the Elite race, Brandon Stewart (USN), inspired by enthusiastic hometown support, charged into an early lead at a very quick pace. But for the second half of the race, Mannie Heymans (MTN Energade) caught and passed him and went on to victory.

Stewart held on to finish second with Johan van Zyl (Mr Price GT), Melt Swanepoel (MTN Energade) and Marc Bassingthwaighte (Trek Garmin) rounding out the top five places.

Because Heymans and Bassingthwaighte are Namibian, the national title went to Stewart with Van Zyl and Swanepoel collecting the silver and bronze medals respectively.

“I’ve been training for cross-country racing as well as marathon racing this year, so I was very prepared for this race,” said Stewart afterwards.

“I’m riding full time now, which makes a big difference. It feels really good to win a national title.

For Heymans, the overall victory was important as it confirmed his selection to represent Namibia at the Beijing Olympic Games, the veteran’s third Olympics.

“I didn’t have a great year last year and I told the Namibian Federation tha,t if I didn’t prove myself at the SA Champs, I would happily step aside from the Olympic team. But I showed today that I’ve still got what it takes and feel my selection is justified,” added Heymans.

In the women’s event, KwaZulu-Natal’s Amy-Jane Mundy did a rain dance last week and then a victory dance at the weekend when she took advantage of muddy conditions to successfully defend her Elite women’s title.

Going into the championships as a dark horse with only an outside chance of toppling African champion Yolande Speedy (IMC Racing), the 2007 national champion, was motivated to put in a great performance. But winning by more than four minutes was an unexpected bonus.

“I love racing in muddy conditions and so for me, the rain was actually a good thing,” said the 26-year-old Jeep team rider.

“The course was only about 80% rideable on the first lap and I managed to get the early lead on the first climb and just built on it from there.”

Mundy used her superior mud-riding skills to increase her lead on the field, while Speedy had to contend with a snapped chain with two kilometres of the first lap remaining,

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.