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Stander leads SA team

By Mark Etheridge

An 18-strong team has been announced to do duty for Team South Africa at the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Champery, Switzerland.

The championships will run from 29 August to 4 September and in a refreshing outlook on the team’s chances, team manager Bryan Strauss says that this team will not stand back for anyone.

In years gone by South African teams have often arrived at various world championships across the sporting spectrum expecting to be beaten but not anymore says Strauss.

“I’ve been a team manager for the SA team at World Champs for the last 10 years and can really say that the sport has grown from strength to strength. The SA MTB team has developed into a really competitive group of riders who have one goal and that is to win. The attitude that other nations are automatically better than us is gone.

“Greg Minnaar and Burry Stander are world champions and this has helped our riders to develop into cycling warriors.

Strauss took time out to analyse the teams’ chances for Road to London 2012.

“Looking at Downhill (although this is not an Olympic sport), Greg Minnaar and Andrew Neethling have many years of racing experience and will approach the start line with one goal and that will be to rip the competition apart, they will normally finish top five with split seconds between the riders and if everything goes in there favour SA will get a podium finish. Tim Bentley in his first year in the elite category can also surprise.

“In Cross Country riders are seeded according to world rankings, competitors on the start line for women 40- 70 and for men 70 -100 so it’s very important for the country to get our riders in a good seeding position if we want to win medals.

“The only way to achieve good seeding is to take part in World Cup and UCI registered International events, so it will be tough for our riders but by no means impossible.”

Strauss also says it’s going to be tough going in the junior men. “We have Luke Roberts in this category and although it won’t be easy if he gets the slightest chance he’ll take it. A podium is within his reach and he should be a definite top 10.”

Candice Neethling has already done well on the junior international scene and now she’s in the under-23 category. “We have two female riders in Mariske Strauss and Candice. Both should be seeded in the top 20 and as they proved at the first World Cup in Pietermaritzburg earlier this year where they managed sixth and seventh, if they manage top 10 at Worlds I would say goal-achieved.”

As far as the under-23 men of Rourke Croeser and Dominic Calitz go, both in this very competitive category for a second year now. “They know what it takes to kick butt, both of them have had a very good season and we could expect a top 15 finish from them.”

Strauss left the Elite Men’s chances to last ÔÇô “Burry needs no introduction and with all the positive energy that will surround him on race day he is a definite medal contender. Philip Buys is also a super athlete and will be hot on the heels of the race pack and I believe he will be a medal contender in the near future.

“Summing up in a nutshell, the team are very well selected and well prepared, all of them will start the race with one goal and that’s to beat the competition and win their respective events and make South African proud,” said Strauss.

The following riders have been selected according to the 2011 CSA-MTB selection criteria.

Elite:
Burry Stander ÔÇô XCO
Philip Buys ÔÇô XCO

Greg Minnaar ÔÇô DHI
Andrew Neethling ÔÇô DHI
Tim Bentley ÔÇô DHI
Johann Potgieter ÔÇô DHI

Under-23:

James Reid ÔÇô XCO
Rourke Croeser ÔÇô XCO
Dominic Calitz ÔÇô XCO
Mariske Strauss ÔÇô XCO
Candice Neethling ÔÇô XCO

Juniors:

Luke Roberts ÔÇô XCO
Brendon Davids ÔÇô XCO
Gert Heyns ÔÇô XCO
Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt ÔÇô XCO

Adi van der Merwe ÔÇô DHI
Tiaan Odendaal ÔÇô DHI
Alasdair Fey ÔÇô DHI

Team management

Team Manager: Bryan Strauss
Team Mechanic: Rob Cunnington


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