This year’s Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge (18 November) will be the end of the first chapter of the cycling career of Cherise Stander (Momentum-Toyota).
From next year Stander, who is a past winner of the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, will compete virtually only in mountain-bike races. Her goal is to represent South Africa at the 2014 UCI World Marathon Mountain Bike Championship in Pietermaritzburg.
“I am not saying that I will never compete in road cycling events at all, but after not being selected for the women’s road cycling team that competed at the Olympic Games in London, and also because of the atmosphere at the World Road Championship in the Netherlands, I think it will be a good idea for me to focus on something else for a while.
“I really had enough of all the internal politics of South African cycling. If circumstances should change over the next few years, I might consider a come-back to road cycling. But for now I will only compete in the odd local road race and, when I am overseas and an opportunity should arise, I might compete in a criterium.”
In 2010 Stander made South African cycling history by winning both the Momentum 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge as well as the Momentum 94.7 Cycle .Last year she was second overall in the Cycle Challenge.
Unfortunately she will not be able to compete in both the Cycle Challenge & Mountain Bike Challenge this year, because the Mountain Bike Challenge will take place on 11 November and the Cycle Challenge on 18 November. I fully understand why the organizers decided to have the races on two different weekends. Not everybody likes to race on two consecutive days, but I personally prefer it. For me the mountain bike event is a good warm-up for the next day’s road race.”
Cherise hopes to achieve victory in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, because it would be a fitting way to end the season. “The Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge is one of the most special events on the local cycling calendar and there is great prestige involved for whoever wins.”
This year there are also personal reasons why Stander wants to win. But talking about winning the Cycle Challenge and actually winning, are two completely different matters. “In women’s cycling this is one of the most difficult races to win, because it is so unpredictable and also because the racing is so hard.”
Stander tips Lisé Olivier and An-Li Pretorius (MTN-Qhubeka) as the two riders who can upset her plans.