Standers set Sappi Scottburgh alight

Scottburgh – Against a perfect backdrop of clear blue skies, South Coast sand and surf and an impressive number of local supporters the fairytale continued for South Africa’s cycling sweethearts, Burry and Cherise Stander (neé Taylor), when the pair claimed the men’s and women’s 2012 Sappi Scottburgh MTB race titles respectively on Saturday 16 June.

Despite a strong effort by 2011 winner Nick Porteous (Specialized/Songo) and runner-up Bruce Hughes (UCT) containing the incredible class of Stander was always going to be a tough ask and after easing into proceedings early on the Specialized Racing rider threw down the gauntlet in the second half of the race and cruised to a comfortable victory.

"Everything consider this obviously wasn't the biggest race for me at the moment but it’s always great to get a two hour training ride in before a race, push hard during the race and then ride home and with all the fun you've had you don't realise you've actually done a six hour day," said Stander.

"I've just come off a huge training block as I head into the next two World Cups so my form is good but I don't quite have the freshness in the legs so it took me a while to warm up a bit and Bruce (Hughes) went really hard in the beginning so I just tucked in behind him and Nick (Porteous) and then around the halfway mark I managed to get away and from there I just rode at my own pace," he added.

Hailing from Port Shepstone Stander is a South Coast boy through and through however with his packed schedule and the constant development of the trails in the area the race provided Stander with something new, despite being on his back doorstep.

"Today I got to ride some trails I've never ridden before and they're close enough to home that having now ridden them I definitely hope to come out and ride them more often. I was quite surprised at how awesome the route was today and how cool the single track around here is," said Stander.

"We always finish Sani2c here in Scottburgh but they don't use any of the trails around here so it was really awesome to ride somewhere new today and hats off to the organisers. It’s really cool to have another great race right here on our doorstep!" he added.

Despite having controlled proceedings throughout and hardly raising a sweat en route to his victory the Olympic medal hopeful looks forward to returning to the event in years to come and hopes to be back to defend his title in 2013.

"I haven't done this race before. Things have never worked out for me in the past four years but hopefully with the schedule next year I can fit it in and if that happens then I'll definitely be back again!" said Stander. "I love going to bike races, I've been doing it for fifteen years and I never get tired of it!"

Having stormed out the blocks and stuck to Stander's wheel like glue through the first half of the race a lack of preparation and the class of Stander saw the UCT student Bruce Hughes fall off the pace in the second half of the race however a valiant effort kept him ahead of defending champ Nick Porteous and saw him cross the line second.

"It has been exactly the same as last year for me. I've only really been on the bike for about a month or so with Varsity champs coming up in July," said Hughes. "I get this one weekend every year to come back to KZN so I always try to get as much racing in as I can."

"Things went well for me today, probably even better than last year simply because it was a bit of a game for the rest of us to see who could hang onto Burry the longest and then after that the real racing started, just when your legs were absolutely gone!"

"I felt good though. Nick dropped me comfortably on the climbs last year and, even though I know he's done less training this time, I felt I could put him away quite easily on the hills this time and I managed to cling to Burry a lot longer than I ever imagined I would so the legs definitely felt better than last year. Coming second to him (Stander) is almost as good as a win," he chuckled.

Porteous, having struggled to spend much time on the bike recently due to work commitments, crept home to claim the the last spot on the podium and whilst everyone expected youngsters Evan van der Spuy (Varsity College) and Brandon Venter (Duracycles) to claim fourth and fifth the pair's unintentional and somewhat frustrating 'Midlands Meander' saw them take the wrong route and hence were disqualified which saw Willie Brink (Team Jeep) fourth across the line.

The ladies race was a battle of the South Coast women as Stander's other half, Cherise (Toyota Momentum) squared off against the talented youngsters Bianca Haw and Hayley Smith. It was the experienced Stander though who managed lead the charge and claimed her second win in as many weekends.

"You pretty much ride your own race in mountain bike compared to road and I managed to get away early on but Bianca (Haw) caught me a couple of times and every time she did I'd have to work even harder to get away again," said Stander. "I was riding pretty hard already and it was then that I knew I was in for a really tough race."

"I pushed really hard and hats off to Bianca. She was really strong and is a really good rider and I look forward to seeing more of her in the future," she added.

Better known for her efforts on her road bike Stander is thoroughly enjoying some time on her MTB and continues to develop with every race she does.

"The single track was fun, it flowed well and it wasn't too technical which was great for me but you still had to concentrate quite a lot. I definitely felt a lot better on the single track this weekend compared to last weekend. I really enjoyed it and this is the type of stuff I'm looking forward to doing more of in the future," said Stander

"This is the last race I have here in South Africa for a while now. My next overseas trip is three months long so it was awesome being able to end things off with a race close to home."

"A win is always good for the confidence too. Just to see how hard I could push it was great, especially against some of the guys I was riding with, and it’s always a confidence booster to have a good race," she added.

In the 28km race last year's winner Johan Meintjes had no answer to the efforts of Bruce Poacher and Dylan McGovern who claimed first and second respectively, leaving Meintjes to have to settle for the third.

Young and old tackled the popular 10km Family Ride and many smiles were seen and tales told as the MTB enthusiasts crossed the line after another exciting morning in the saddle.

Over five hundred riders took part in the 2012 event which organisers were exceptionally happy with and looked forward to using the funds raised to continue the work of the Cycling 4 Mobility cause.

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1.Burry Stander 1:42.35
2.Bruce Hughes 1:46.19
3.Nick Porteous 1:49.10
4.Willie Brink 1:55.25
5.Daniel Carleton 1:55.37
6.Daryn Purtell 1:58.24
7.Cherise Stander (Female) 1:58.27
8.Siyabonga Njiwa 1:59.24
9.Jasper van Vessem 1:59.33
10.Zayne Botha 2:00.39

1.Cherise Stander 1:58.27
2.Bianca Haw 2:01.54
3.Julieann Hillermann 2:08.50

1.Bruce Poacher 1:20.14
2.Dylan McGovern 1:24.07
3.Johan Meinjtes 1:26.48

1.Lauren Hoyer 1:53.51
2.Annette Hoyer 1:55.04
3.jackie Cunniffe 1:55.42