London Olympics medal hopeful Burry Stander has pedalled his way on to the podium at the third round of the RockyRoads UCI Mountain Bike World Cup cross-country event in Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic.
The 2008 Beijing Olympian could not have asked for a better start to the race as he managed to keep himself in the early breakaway group of five riders right from the onset, including Nino Schurter (Sui), who was looking to extend his lead in the series, and local rider and defending champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze).
For the first few laps there were plenty attacks as riders attempted to stamp their authority on each 4.46 kilometre lap, but the final result came down to the last two laps.
Stander attacked on the final lap but Schurter countered with Stander trying to stay close from there on, his Specialized teammate Kulhavy staying in the mix. When Stander could do no more towards the end of the race, Kulhavy came past to claim second place and Stander hung on for a third place finish. The winning time was 1hr 26min 46sec with Kulhavy six seconds back and Stander 17sec.
Marco Fontana (Ita) finished just ahead of Ralph Naef (Sui) for fourth and fifth places respectively.
Schurter leads the overall rankings with 700 points, followed by Burry Stander with 510 and Kulhavy at 425.
Another South African to stand on the podium was Candice Neethling. Neethling’s fifth place in the women’s Under-23 category was a sterling performance from the young Pietermaritzburg resident, holding off Germany’s Helen Grobert by 23 seconds, and finishing in 1:22:33. Nineteen-year old Jolanda Neff (Sui) won the race in 1:18:48.
With the end of the Olympic qualification period less than a month away, Stander’s countryman Philip Buys has made no bones about his desire to be part of the SA Olympic team that will travel to London. After a solid victory at the African Continental Championships in Mauritius the week prior and a new title to his name, Buys finished a disappointing 55th after being caught up in a crash at the start, finishing in 1:33:40.
For Rourke Croeser it was also a tough day in the office with a 45th place finish in the Under-23 category in a time of 1:27:24. Local rider Ondrej Cink’s (Cze) winning time was 1:19:58.
Hoedspruit local Samantha Sanders, who finished in sixth place in round two of the British National XCO MTB Series in Dalby Forest last month, finished 59th in the women’s Elite category in a time of 1:45:10. The race was won by Julie Bresset (Fra) in 1:29:17.
Riders and teams now make their way to La Bresse in France for round four of the RockyRoads UCI Mountain Bike World Cup XCO series, from 18-20 May.
Summary of Results
Elite Men ÔÇô XCO
1 Nino Schurter (Swi) 1:26:46
2 Jaroslav Kulhavy (Cze) 1:26:52
3 Burry Stander (SA) 1:27:03
4 Marco Fontana (Ita) 1:27:32
5 Ralph Naef (Sui) 1:27:33
55 Philip Buys (SA) 1:33:40
Under-23 Women ÔÇô XCO
1 Jolanda Neff (Sui) 1:18:48
2 Yana Belomoyna (Ukr) 1:19:49
3 Paula Gorycka (Pol) 1:20:43
4 Samara Sheppard (Nzl) 1:21:15
5 Candice Neethling (SA) 1:22:33