Stander, Speedy retain titles

2012-07-28 00:00


SUPERB cross-country racing and an amazing display of upcoming talent resulted in one of the best SA National MTB Championship events in a long while, with defending champions Burry Stander and Yolande Speedy retaining their elite national cross-country titles.

A technical 5,4 km XCO course with 120 metres of ascent had been prepared by Mankele MTB Park on the outskirts of Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, and coupled with excellent weather conditions, last weekend made for some exciting racing.

Fierce racing ensued in the pro-elite men’s race, which saw Burry Stander (Specialized Racing) as the victor, completing his six laps in 1 hour 33 minutes and 38 seconds. USN’s Philip Buys finished second in 1:35:13, with U23 category racer Rourke Croeser in third place in 1:36:09. Luke Roberts and Arno du Toit finished second and third respectively in the U23 men’s category, while Max Knox rounded out the elite men’s podium.

Stander attested that the racing was quite close and that over the years the course had become easier to race on and it was harder to create gaps during the race.

“I attacked a few times during the race on the same climb, but Phil [Buys] managed to stay with me each time … on the last lap I could see he had tired a bit and when I attacked again, I managed to ride clear of him,” said Stander.

Apart from this weekend’s World Cup in Val d’Isere (France), Stander, Buys and Candice Neethling will also be tackling the Olympic Games in London two weeks later.

The pro-elite women’s race saw Speedy, Candice Neethling and Samantha Sanders in a titanic battle, with Speedy taking top honours.

Neethling (U23) finished in second place, with Sanders third overall. Amy McDougall rounded out the elite women’s podium, while Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt and Mariske Strauss finished second and third respectively in the U23 women’s category.

In the junior men’s race, Patrick Belton achieved top honours, with Kyle Dorkin second and Paul Rodenbach third.

The junior women’s race saw Linda van Wyk take the victory, with Nicole Erasmus second and Tayla Odendaal third.

Popular 5FM personality Damon Kalvari is set to enter one of South Africa’s most prestigious one-day events, the Illovo Eston MTB Challenge 2012, on August 5.

Often bearing the brunt of Gareth Cliff’s jokes on the 5FM Morning Show, Kalvari said: “I’m really looking forward to the race.

“I’ve been training now for just over a year, and there’s a possibility that I will finish the race.”

The course setup will be similar to the successful 2011 layout, but will have some exciting additions.

The 60 km route has been shortened from the 75 km distance two years ago, and the 40 km route takes in much of the Eston area, including the vast sugarcane fields and indigenous forests that line the agricultural lands.

The Tala 18 km family ride offers a unique opportunity for riders to get up close with Tala’s wildlife.

The children won’t be forgotten, with the ever popular Milky Lane 10 km ride providing heaps of family fun on the same course as 2011.

You can enter online at The event organisers are limiting each race (excluding the 18 km family ride) to 800 riders, so enter soon to avoid disappointment.


THE cowboys rounded the troops; a perfect morning at a stunning setting; a record field of over 600 athletes — and this was the second event in the Varsity College Multisport Series.

Multi-sport was the very essence of this event. Entrants could choose to trail run or mountain bike or both in the Multi-X, or paddle as in the Multisport events.

The biggest growth was seen in the trail runs where over 100 participants were recorded in the five kilometre trail run, while those more daring took on the 12,5 km version.

The terrain at Shongweni Dam is unforgiving, surrounded by hills and defined by its rocky, sandy tracks, which add to the challenge.

Pat Dammann and Michael Cooper were the respective winners of the five kilometre, while Alexia Loizou and Sizwe Mkhasile claimed the 12,5 km.

The canoe version returned and with it came the big players. Dusi champion Andy Birkett may be in his off-season, but he was not about to tarnish his record, and he notched another win in the long course over a five kilometre trail run, 20 km mountain bike and five kilometre paddle. Less than two minutes back, the dice was on for second with Eric Zondi just edging out Trevor Hellens.

Fresh from claiming the SA Youth Women’s MTB title in Mpumalanga the previous day, young Bianca Haw gave an indication of her talent as she won the women’s race ahead of Carmen Blakeney and Alyson Scheepers. Heading up the short course were Bryan le Roux and Jordan Peek, who placed third overall.

The long course Multi-X was won by Daniel Carleton, ahead of two new names on the podium. Robert Baxter came second and Benjamin Kilian third.

Sarah Gray continued to dominate the women’s podium with the welcome return of Landy Puddu in second place and Karen Thomson third.

The short course version over a 2,5 km trail run, 10 km mountain bike and one kilometre trail run was won by Gareth Marquiss and Eleanor Glaum respectively.

Racing was tight at the front of the 40 km mountain bike race, with Leeroy Emslie claiming the honours in a sprint finish ahead of Hilton Frost, with Mark Malherbe just a few seconds back in third place.

Kimberley le Court de Billot was a worthy winner of the women’s race. Matthew Ellis and Bronwyn Brigg led home the 20 km race.

The third and final event takes place at Albert Falls Dam on August 19. More information is available at

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