XCO king and queen pull rank

2012-02-18 00:00

BEIJING Olympians Burry Stander and Yolande Speedy showed that they’re still South Africa’s top mountain bike racers in the Olympic cross-country (XCO) discipline, winning the elite men and women’s races respectively at the opening round of the 2012 South African National Cup Series in Durbanville near Cape Town last weekend.

Stander hasn’t been beaten in a domestic XCO race in South Africa since 2003 and he ensured he maintained that dominance by finishing more than one-and-a-half-minutes ahead of runner-up Phillip Buys.

Speedy hasn’t raced XCO for over nine months, but showed she’s still the country’s finest female lap racer, finishing well clear of her rivals. At this stage only Stander is expected to be on the start line at the London Olympics, but an armful of UCI points from South African men between now and May 23 could see a second men’s XCO Games slot secured, while the women have an outside chance of securing one start spot in London.

A series of three new international point-scoring XCO races over the next few weeks in South Africa will help their cause. A big group of riders battled for third place around two minutes behind Buys and Stander. Namibia’s Marc Bassingthwaighte eventually claimed third ahead of Matthys Beukes and Rourke Croeser (Orange Monkey Cannondale), who was the first U23 home.

In the women’s race Speedy took the lead after the first kilometre and never relinquished it. Sara Muhl claimed the runner-up spot, just over five minutes back, and Samantha Sanders was third.

MOUNTAIN BIKING

The exciting new Momentum Health XCO internationals get under way with the first event at Giba Gorge this weekend.

The event comprises three events in four weekends. The second event is at Karkloof Falls on March 3-4 and the final event at the Cascades MTB Park on March 10-11, in an ideal build-up to the Rocky Roads UCI MTB World Cup the following weekend on the same course.

Registration is open tomorrow between 6 am and 7.30 am for all age groups. For entries and further information, go to www.kznmtb.co.za.

The Cyclelab Wartburg MTB Classic takes place next Saturday. The event offers trail runners a 10 km trail run.

Events include the 45 km Cyclelab Classic (with an add-on option for those training for stage racing), the 25 km BP SupaQuick race and the Spur 10 km Fun Ride. Food, refreshments, kids entertainment and baby-sitting facilities are on offer. Entries at www.roag.co.za. For further details contact Marie du Toit at 076 655 7080.

The KwaZulu-Natal based Race Organisers’ Admin Group (ROAG) launched the inaugural ROAG Series this week.

The aim of the series is to boost interest in mountain biking by recognising up-and-coming youngsters, providing a platform for weekend warriors to challenge their mates, and rewarding the country’s elite male and female riders with an enticing R20 000 prize for the overall winners.

The ROAG Series will consist of 10 of the largest mountain bike races in the province during the 2012 calendar year, with a grand prix-style points system deciding the overall and category winners. Riders have to take part in at least seven of the events and their best seven results will count toward deciding the winners.

All of the races are ROAG-administered events and take place in KwaZulu-Natal, with the main races over distances of 40-45 km. The series commences with the Wartburg MTB Classic on February 25 and includes the 105 km Sunday Tribune Jeep Hill2Hill in September. It ends with the Mountain Splendour Mania in November.

For more information on the ROAG Series and the 10 events, visit www.roag.co.za/about/roag-series.aspx or call Megan at 086 100 ROAG) at the ROAG offices.

MULTISPORT

The next event in the aQuelle Mudman Series is the Epworth Mudman at Albert Falls Dam next Sunday. Entries are on www.roag.co.za.

The Midlands Ultra Triathlon Series takes place at Midmar Dam on March 4. The Ultra race will consist of a 1,9 km swim, 90 km cycle and a 21 km run. The sprint distance race will consist of a 600 m swim, 20 km cycle and a 5 km run. This “tri-series” will give competitors an exciting long distance to work towards throughout the year.

All levels of athletes will enjoy this unique race set in a scenic environment. A broad range of categories are open that cater for top athletes, weekend warriors as well as relay teams.

With a healthy prize purse of R35 000, all of SA’s top triathletes will be battling it out for overall line honours. For more information and to enter, go to www.midlandsultra.com or contact B-Active Sports at info@midlandsultra.com.

CYCLING

It’s time for the Battery Centre Ryan Maullin Memorial Midmar Notts Cycle Race, KZN’s oldest and favourite road cycling event, which takes place from Midmar Dam tomorrow morning. This is a good 80 km “warm-up” race three weeks ahead of the Cape Argus. The race starts and finishes at Midmar Dam where families can picnic and enjoy the resort after the event. The race route is along the R103 through the scenic Midlands, passing Rawdons Hotel, Michaelhouse School and Nottingham Road to turn just before the N3 at Mt West. It is an undulating course to the turn point at 40 km, then a very fast return for the remainder of the race.

Burry Stander won the opening round of the 2012 South African National Cup Mountain Biking Cross-country Series in Durbanville last weekend.

Photo: gallo images

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