Stander Wears Three Pairs of Shoes to Victory at Mankele

    Not even an unexpected head-start helped his rivals as Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized) overcame an unusual early setback to go on and claim his second major win of 2009 at the second round of the MTN National Cup cross-country race held at Mankele in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa on Saturday.

    The Under-23 World Cup champion, who convincingly won Round 1 in Stellenbosch last month, broke the cleat on his left shoe when he hit a rock on the first of six laps. He rode the remainder of the lap with the damaged shoe and had to borrow a pair of shoes for the second lap. By the time he reached the Tech Zone for the start of his third lap, his spare shoes had been located and he was able to tackle the second half of the race without incident.

    The setback saw Stander rejoin the race in seventh place, but by the end of Lap 4 he was already back in the lead with a 45-second advantage over his rivals and went on to clock a winning time of two hours and 18 minutes.

    Second place went to current South African Elite men’s cross-country champion, Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome) with Max Knox, also of DCM Chrome, rounding out the podium places.

    “I usually have my spare shoes in the Tech Zone, but had forgotten them today. Luckily one of the women who had just finished racing had Specialized shoes with Crank Brothers cleats so I rode a lap with her shoes to limit my losses while my dad rushed off to fetch my spare shoes,” explained Stander.

    “Her shoes were a bit small so I rode the lap with my toes curled up! But once I had my own shoes, I put in a big effort and managed to take the lead again about halfway through the third lap. The course was superb and unbelievably fast, but towards the end I started to take some strain on the climbs. I’m happy to have been able to win especially with that shoe incident.”

    In the women’s race, Stellenbosch leg winner, Sara Muhl (Jeep) captured her second consecutive victory ahead of Under-23 rider, Heletjie van Staden (Schwinn) with Janneke Laesk taking third place. One of the pre-race favourites, Tania Raats (Bell Equipment), suffered mechanical problems when her rear gear derailleur broke, forcing her out of the race after just one lap.

    The downhill event will take place on Sunday.

    MTN National Cup Cross-country
    Round 2, Mankele, Mpumalanga
    Brief results
    MEN – Pro-Elite
    1 Burry Stander – Mr Price Specialized 02hr18min00sec
    2 Brandon Stewart – DCM Chrome 2:23:06
    3 Max Knox – DCM Chrome 2:23:10
    4 Marc Bassingthwaighte – Garmin adidas 2:26:31
    5 Roan Exelby – Fullimput Morewood 2:27:52

    Elite
    1 Brandon Stewart – DCM Chrome 2:23:06
    2 Marc Bassingthwaighte – Garmin adidas 2:26:31
    3 Roan Exelby – Fullimput Morewood 2:27:52

    Under-23
    1 Burry Stander – Mr Price Specialized 2:18:00
    2 Max Knox – DCM Chrome 2:23:10
    3 Philip Buys – Garmin adidas 2:30:20

    WOMEN – Pro-Elite
    1 Sara Muhl – Jeep 02hr03min01sec
    2 Heletjie van Staden – Schwinn 2:05:37
    3 Janneke Laesk 2:06:54
    4 Shawna Thunder – The Leigh Group 2:20:12
    5 Melanie Palframan – Fox 2:22:42