Burry, Taylor shine | SASCOC - SASCOC

Burry, Taylor shine

Beijing Olympian mountainbiker Burry Stander showed his versatility with a hard-fought win on the road at the KwaZulu-Natal provincial road cycling championships, held in Durban and Westville at the weekend. And fiancee Cherise Taylor, also an Olympic hopeful for London later this year, weighed in with a time trial win.

The championships were hailed by participants as arguably the best ever provincial or national championship yet ridden in South Africa.

First up was the time trial on Saturday, held on a circuit around the Durban Country Club. The course measured up to world standards that allowed the riders to really push their ability and at 8.5 kilometres, the circuit attracted high speeds.

The Time Trial is a race of truth, and veteran Brett Berriman defied the field with a great ride and the fastest time of the day. One of Cycling SA’s Olympic hopefuls, Cherise Taylor averaged over 48km per hour for the event, comfortably winning the women’s Elite title on what she described as one of the best time trial courses she had ever ridden.

The road race on Sunday was a spectacular affair. With some of the country’s top mountain bikers taking part in the event, there was always going to be fireworks, and the participants did not disappoint the spectators. The course followed a 14km circuit up and down both sides of the M13 freeway from Westville to 45th Cutting. The men and women’s events had a group start for Juniors, Under23, Elite and Vets, who were all competing for the overall KZN Championship trophy as well as their respective category championship.

The men raced nine laps of the circuit and by the end of the first lap it was evident that there was some serious racing on the go. The circuit enabled spectators to watch the race unfold. Myles Van Muschenbrook (Tasol) made an early attempt on the fourth lap to break away from the constant attacks and surges. By the fifth lap, Myles and Aston Davies had built up a 1min 30sec lead, with 56kms to go. This lead soon evaporated and by the end of the sixth lap the bunch was together, pushing over 400 watts per lap.

On lap eight the big attack came with Kevin Evans (360Life) making a break with Stander (Specialized) shadowing his every move. The attack was so severe that the bunch splintered and soon enough Stander and Evans had amassed a two-minute lead going into the last lap.

Evans tried to shake Stander off his wheel in the final climb, knowing that the younger rider had a very powerful sprint, but Stander stuck with him over the crest and then attacked at that point. Evans stayed on Stander’s wheel and the two had a sprint finish over the last 200 metres.

Stander snatched the win with Evans in second place. Evans’ 360Life teammates James Reid and David George finished third and fourth respectively with Reid taking the Under-23 win from Brendon Davids (Specialized Sho-Air) and Rourke Croeser (Team Orange Monkey Cannondale) rounding out the podium.

Meanwhile Taylor (Nashua Mobile) had opted to rather race with the Elite men in her preparation for the year ahead. She went on to finish sixth overall, 20 minutes behind the leaders, showing that she will be a force to be reckoned with.

The women’s race was also filled with some great racing, covering eight laps and with a constant battle of cat-and-mouse being played out. The surprise package in this race was junior woman Heidi Dalton (Nashua). She attacked with a lap to go and powered her way to an unassailable lead. She put her head down and rode the last 14km in true time trial fashion and took line honours as overall women’s champion as well as clinching the junior crown.

The event was held as a dry run for the upcoming SA Vets, Masters and School Road Cycling Championships to be held on the same courses from 22-25 March 2012.