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Burry pipped in PMB
- Updated: March 17, 2012
The widely anticipated elite men’s cross country race of the 2012 RockyRoads UCI MTB World Cup in Pietermaritzburg delivered all the action, drama and excitement as expected on Saturday with world number two Nino Schurter (Scott-Swisspower MTB Racing Team) of Switzerland edging out local hero Burry Stander (Specialized Racing) to claim the spoils in the season opener at Cascades MTB park.
Just as he did last year, Schurter showed his superior technical abilities through the notorious rock garden to break the shackles which had seen him and Beijing Olympian Stander circulate wheel to wheel around the course for the first four and a half laps of the six-lap encounter.
Not even a last-minute drop of rain could put a damper on the electric on-course proceedings as Schurter put in a surge of speed through the top section of the second last lap which gave him a clear run into the technical section and that slight advantage was all it took for the 2011 victor.
ÔÇ£I knew I was a bit faster than Burry through the rocks and I tried to get maybe a gap of five seconds, so it was really the same tactics like last year with Absalon [Julien],ÔÇØ said Schuter.
“It was great to battle it out with Burry. He really had a great race and it was awesome to race against a top South African here in South Africa. I’m really happy about my first victory,” he added.
Stander, having finished third in 2009 and 11th in 2011, was focused solely on claiming this year’s title and the South Coast rider gave it his all as he looked to achieve his remarkably high goals.
A strong start after the chaos of the firswt corner saw him into third place and he, Schurter and Manuel Fumic of Germany then worked together to haul in the reigning world champion, Jaroslav Kulhavy (Specialized Racing), who had flown out the blocks.
It wasn’t long though before the trio caught the Czech rider and settled into a rhythm few were able to challenge. Stander and Schurter then found an extra gear shortly after the halfway mark and it soon it became a two horse race.
“This year I really wanted to make up for last year, not only for the World Cup here, but for the whole season, which was lacklustre,ÔÇØ said Stander. ÔÇ£I ended off the season with a broken chain in the last World Cup and a crash in the World Championships, so the season ended really badly and I didn’t have a lot of confidence going into this season.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£So coming here, last weekend gave me good confidence, second today and just being in the mix again, it’s been a while since I’ve been on the podium, so second’s not what you aim for, you always aim to win, but I’m satisfied with what I did today,ÔÇØ he added.
After a disappointing performance in Pietermaritzburg in 2011 Stander was hungry to up his game in front of his home crowd ÔÇô however an improvement in the overall standard of racing at the top end of the field saw the margin for error reduced dramatically and competition for the overall spoils became even more intense than before.
“It was a big race that I wanted to do well in. It’s definitely the most stressful World Cup for me all year,” smiled Stander.
“The level goes up every year. Today we were probably going faster than we were three years ago. I think everyone is on top of their game and trying to improve where they can and I realised last year that I would have to do the same and pick up my level if I was going to carry on competing. That’s what I’ve done. It seems to be working and I hope to build and get stronger going forward,ÔÇØ he added.
Sunday sees the men’s and women’s downhill finals taking place on Sunday where local heroes Greg Minnaar and Andrew Neethling will be eager to impress on home turf.
More info can be found at www.mtbworldcupsa.co.za
1 Nino Schurter (SUI) 1:30.38
2 Burry Stander (RSA) +11
3 Manuel Fumic (GER) +59
4 Julien Absalon (FRA) +1:41
5 Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE) +2:21
6 Lukas Fluckiger (SUI) +2:28
7 Jose Antonio Hermida Ramos (ESP) +2:51
8 Stephane Tempier (FRA) +3:01
9 Marco Fontana (ITA) +3:22
10 Ralph Naef (SUI) +3:44