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Burry delivers — again

By Mark Etheridge

It’s mission achieved for our mountain bike maestro Burry Stander!

Last year the KwaZulu-Natal cyclist set himself a testing two-medal target in 2010 and in Canada on Sunday he hit paydirt.

The occasion was the UCI world cross-country championships in Canada where he came third to take bronze.

Explains Stander: “This year’s world championships have been a very exciting proposition for me. Ever since winning the Under-23 world champs in Canberra, Australia last year I set two optimistic goals for the 2010 season — to win medals a both the marathon world championships and the cross-country world championships a month later.”

The first medal, also a bronze, came in St Wendell, Germany last month.

On Sunday Stander faded slightly towards the end of the race, not surprising the broad range of challenges he’s put his body through this year.

Winner was the little Spaniard Jose Hermida in 1hr 52min 26sec from the Czech Republic’s Juroslaf Kulhawy. This after Stander had spent a fair section of the seven-lap race in the lead before he went on to end 1:10 down from the winning time.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be as luck at the XCO champs with that sort of form so went home to focus and set about making it happen. I knew I had some good shape the motivation was sky-high.”

The weekend’s championships were at Mont Saintt Anne. “I’ve raced there for a couple of years now and I think they did a great job of the course for this year’s worlds. The loop was shortened somewhat which meant we would do the two big climbs more often than before. The course also had the sweetest bridges I’ve ever ridden over. It was like a skatepark out there!

“The Specialized team did an awesome job again this week as our bikes had to be race ready not once,but twice this week as we had team relay on Wednesday.

As for race day, Stander, a member of SASCOC’s OPEX squad for potential medallists in 2012, saw it like this on his blog report: “On the morning of the race it had rained quite heavily but it was drying out a little whilst the women were fighting it out on the course. We started at 2pm and the clouds were threatening. I had a great jump of the line and got through the first turn in the lead. I held onto the the front until the first climb where I settled into the lead group before dropping into the first single track.

“We did two start laps which comprised the half of the full lap with the most climbing. After the two laps I was in third trailing by around 10 sec. I had settled into my own pace on a track that offered very little drafting with riders positions swapping for most of the race.

“I just tried to stay relaxed as I knew it was going to be very tough at the end. Midway through the full laps of which we did six I hit the front of the race again. On my heels though was Jose and Juroslaf. It was indeed a tough battle at the end in which I had to settle for the second bronze medal of the year!

“It was an incredible feeling to end the season by achieving the goal I wanted most!”

So what’s next for Stander? “Now I’m looking forward to some time off now before racing Roc d’azur in October.”