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Burry blasts to victory

Burry Stander (Specialized USN) showed why he’s one of the world’s best mountain bike racers when he cruised to a clinical, dominant victory at the 2011 South African Olympic Cross-country championships in Stellenbosch on Saturday.

The 23-year-old KwaZulu-Natalian, a strong medal hopeful for the London Olympic Games next year, took the lead on the second lap on a moderately technical course to eventually win by more than five minutes. Second place went to Matthys Beukes (SCOTT) with Namibian champion, Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin adidas) claiming third place.

In the women’s race, Beijing Olympian, Yolande Speedy (MTN Qhubeka) captured the victory ahead of teammate Mariske Strauss, who won the Under-23 gold medal. Rourke Croeser (Cannondale), won the Under-23 men’s title.

Stander and Philip Buys (Garmin adidas) completed the first of seven laps with a lead over the rest of the field, but on lap two, Stander upped the intensity and dropped Buys. Stander then gradually built up his lead as he cruised to his sixth senior South African title and his ninth overall (three Junior, four Under-23 and two Elite).

Buys held onto second place throughout most of the race, but on the penultimate lap he snapped his chain and dropped out of medal contention. That cleared the way for Beukes, who had been closing in on Buys, to secure the silver medal.

Although Bassingthwaighte finished third, the bronze medal went to Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized) who was the fourth Elite rider home, but the third South African across the line.

ÔÇ£I only really pushed hard on the second lap to get away from Philip and then I picked it up again on the last lap, the rest of the time I kept it steady,ÔÇØ revealed Stander afterwards. ÔÇ£Many think the course wasn’t that technical, but the tight off-camber turns with loose surfaces over the hardpack certainly weren’t easy to negotiate. There were plenty of crashes here.

ÔÇ£I’m obviously really happy to win another South African title. It’s an honour to race in the national champions jersey when I race abroad.┬á I’m also very pleased with my performance today,ÔÇØ said Stander, who chose to race a 29-inch-wheeled hardtail bike.


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