Olympic Class

2008-05-24 00:00

BURRY Stander and Yolande Speedy showed why they’re the two mountain bikers chosen to represent SA at the Beijing Olympic Games when they recorded dominant victories at the final round of the Mazda MTN National Cross-Country Series at Mankele, Nelspruit last weekend.

Stander (Mr Price GT), the current national and African champion, appeared to be on a different level to his rivals as he carved his way smoothly around the tough, technical course, leading from the end of the first of six laps and posting a time of two hours, six minutes and 37 seconds.

Namibia’s Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin DCM) finished second with Renay Goustra (Mongoose Red) rounding out the podium in the Pro-Elite Men’s category.

“I took the lead from about halfway through the first lap and managed to pull away from the others at the start of the second lap. I rode pretty hard and the tough course really suited me,” said Stander, adding with relief that he appeared to be over the injury that forced him to quit the Absa Cape Epic in March.

“I had a lot of therapy from a variety of specialists and it seems to have helped. I’m relieved because it’s only about five weeks until the World Champs and just over two months to the Olympics.”

In the women’s event, Speedy overcame an early setback when her chain derailed on the first of four laps to eventually charge to a comfortable victory over Western Province star, Sara Muhl (Jeep).

Speedy, who was ranked 25th in the world at the beginning of the year, showed her world-class ability by swiftly completing the race in a rapid one hour, 45 minutes and 40 seconds. Muhl was over four minutes behind with Namibian Heletje van Staden claiming third overall and winning the Under-23 title.

“I struggled a bit after I dropped my chain early on the first lap, but from the second lap I got into a good rhythm and really just enjoyed the awesome course. It felt good to be racing in South Africa again,” smiled Speedy.

Bassingthwaighte and Speedy secured the prestigious men and women’s 2008 Mazda MTN National Cross-Country Series titles respectively after having accumulated the most points throughout the five-event series.

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