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Stander second after fall

Beijing 2008 Olympian Burry Stander placed second in the season-opening Barberton leg of the South African MTN ultra-marathon mountain bike series at the weekend.

Stander was runner-up to Max Knox on the 126-kilometre event, beating Kevin Evans into third, and after the race was full of praise for Knox.

“I first rode there in 2001 and this time out there was a huge load of climbing so I had my first day or two or rest in a while during the build-up,” said Stander.

“The race kicked off as it did last year with Team DCM putting the hurt into everybody. We were soon down to a group of just seven and over the top of the climb Renay Groustra of GT had a flat tyre to leave us at six.

“After the long 15km climb we had some wet and muddy downhills to contend with (dejavu of my crash last year was in the back of my mind) DCM’s Brandon Stewart kept the pace high for the rest of the downhills untill we headed into the last 30km of the first loop.

“This section was through a nature reserve and very, very rocky. I was happy I opted for some heavier tread as two of the three DCM guys flatted on some lightweights through this section. As we hit the feedzone with 40km to go i was feeling pretty good or so i thought until Max dropped around three gears and rode away like Kevin and I were standing still. Kevin tried to follow but I decided to ride at my own tempo as there is still a lot to come this year. In the last 30km I reeled Kevin back in and we really flew through the game reserve one last time.

“With around a kilometre to go I got switched by one of the backmarkers on the 45km race and crashed into a pavement. Kevin showed awesome sportmanship and waited for me before we raced to the line. The sprint was a very exciting way to end the five-hour race and I just managed to slip into second. Amazingly though, Max rode seven minutes into us over the last 30km and I really haven’t seen speed like that at the end of any race I’ve ever┬ácompeted in.”

“This week I have some good intensity coming up with the first SA XC series on Saturday. Can’t wait for it.”


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