The pre race favourites were unstoppable for the first MTN Cross Country event of the year. On Saturday, just outside of Alberton, Burry Stander (Specialized/MR Price) and Yolandé Speedy (MTN-Energade) dominated the MTN National Cross-Country Series race.
Stander’s winning time for the six-lap (6.28 km) race was 1 hour 57 minutes 59 seconds. Philip Buys (Garminadidas) finished 2nd overall and won the u.23 category in a time of 2:03:17. Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garminadidas) finished 3rd in 2:03:45 and he was 2nd in the elite category.
“Even though there were no big climbs or downhills, it was still one of the most challenging courses I have ever ridden. The route was so challenging that you had to stay focused all the time. If you read one line incorrectly you paid the price.
“That was what happened to me during the last lap. On the last climb there was a choice of three lines. I don’t know what induced me to make the decision, but I chose what I thought would be the easiest line. It was a mistake. Not knowing what to expect, I twice lost control of my bike and crashed into trees.
“Apparently this was the wake-up call that I needed because thereafter I was focused again.”
According to Stander the big difference between cross-country racing and marathon racing is that during a marathon tactics play an important part in the outcome of the race, while in cross-country every rider has to fend for himself. Usually the rider who can read the course best and makes the fewest mistakes wins.
Standers lap times were very consistent. “I am not surprised by my consistent lap times. I have been focusing on doing stamina work until now, therefore I have adequate endurance but no real speed. However, this will change during the next few weeks.”
Buys went out hard from the gun and shared the record for the fastest lap time with Stander. “My race was just one big gamble and luckily it paid off.” he said
Yolandé Speedy was quite satisfied with the way her race went. Her winning time for the four-lap race was 1 hour 36 minutes and 56 seconds.
Behind Speedy was Hungarian Eszter Erdelyi (Jeep) who finished in 1:41.12 with Mariska Strauss (MTN-energade) 3rd.
Speedy’s race was not without mishap. Her pedal came loose on the second lap. After her mishap, Speedy said: “I can only blame myself for the fact that my pedal came loose during the 2nd lap. Mistakes like this could cost you the race. I was lucky that they were able to help me in the technical zone. But I still lost 4 minutes in the process.”
“The most important thing that I have learned is not to take things for granted. Next time, before I race, I will do a proper check on my bike. I had to race hard to catch Mariska again.”
Full results can be found here