South Africa represented by three South Coast riders in UCI MTB World Cup at Cascades

2011-04-26 00:00

THREE south coast mountain- bike riders represented South Africa in the season-opening UCI MTB World Cup presented by Shimano at the Cascades in Pietermaritzburg at the week-end.

Former U23 world champion Burry Stander (Umtentweni), Evan van der Spuy (Southbroom) and Candice Neethling (Port Shepstone) tested themselves against the world’s leading mountain bikers in their respective cross-country divisions.

Nineteen-year-old Neethling (Team Bizhub), the 2011 U23 Women’s All African Continental champion and 2010 South African cross-country champion, was the second-best-placed South African rider and seventh overall in her maiden women’s U23 UCI MTB World Cup race.

Her stellar effort on Saturday was followed by that of Van der Spuy (Team Jeep), who placed eighth in the junior men’s race in his UCI MTB World Cup debut on Sunday.

“Having to watch others ride on Saturday and having to wait until the next day to race myself built up the pressure, but I’m very happy with my performance,” said Van der Spuy. “The course had some technical spots and was very enjoyable.”

Van der Spuy said he finds inspiration from south coast superstar Stander, currently ranked number six in the world, who was out to claim victory in the much-anticipated men’s elite race.

“He’s certainly someone I look up to,” said 17-year-old Van der Spuy. “His dad helps me a lot. On race day, he’ll come to me and give my bike a last-minute check so he’s very supportive.”

Heading into the event full of confidence and high on momentum fresh off his historic win in the Absa Cape Epic earlier this month, Stander saw his hopes of a home win dashed by an early fall and a second tumble on the last lap, which saw the Team Specialized Racing ace cross the line in 11th place.

“I got off to a good start and was part of the lead group, but I just lost concentration for a second, my wheel slipped out and over I went,” said Stander. “I damaged my derailer and only had three gears for the rest of the race.

“I managed to hold sixth place for most of the way, but I could feel the guys getting close towards the end there, and with the added pressure I went over in the rock garden. I’m just happy to have finished in one piece.”

The second round of the UCI MTB World Cup takes place at Yorkshire, Dalby Forest, from May 21 to May 22.

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