Beijing Olympian and national mountain bid legend Burry Stander was the first rider to check out the new course planned for the RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg from 16-18 March.
Stander, the 24-year-old from Umtentweni, is oozing confidence and vowing that “2012 will be my year.” He’s taken a vastly different approach to his racing this year, using scientific analysis and support from the SA Sports Science Institute in Cape Town, and feels that he has prepared and planned well to be able to make 2012 his most successful year yet.
Stander has three top priorities for 2012 ÔÇô the RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup, the ABSA Cape Epic and the Olympic Games in London. “The World Cup is what I have in my sights right now,” said Stander.
Stander set off to race the modified lay-out at the Cascades MTB Park to clinically gather power output data so that his training, diet and preparations can be fine-tuned by the scientists at the Sport Science Institute. “It helps a lot,” says Stander. “Not only in terms of planning and nutrition and recovery, but it gives me a lot of confidence and makes me even more motivated.”
“Things didn’t really go my way in 2011,” adds Stander. “I had a lot of bad luck and made some poor decisions. This year I really feel that I can achieve what I set out to achieve.”
Stander added that he was really looking forward to competing in the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg because the support he gets from the crowd makes a major impact on his performance. “It’s phenomenal what a difference the support makes,” said Stander. “Last year (when he bent his derailleur leaving him without crucial climbing gears and then crashed later in the race) I was seriously thinking about pulling out of the race. It was only because of the support that I was getting from the crowd that I carried on.”
He still cherishes memories of his 2009 performance when he raced to third in the World Cup against a backdrop of hysterical crowd support at the Cascades course, and ranks that right up there with his Under-23 world championships triumph and World Cup win in Switzerland.
Stander urged MTB supporters to get tickets for the event and to support all the South African cross country and downhill riders to enable them to maximise the advantage of racing at home.
Stander was enthusiastic about the changes planned for the cross country layout, converting it to a figure eight shape with two technical and feeding zones in close proximity to each other. “There is also more climbing, which is going to be very significant.” said Stander. “This will favour the stronger climbers and you may see a few new names featuring at the front this time around.”