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South African National Cup Series #2 - 2

Mankele, Nelspruit, South Africa, February 7-8, 2009

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Race 1 - February 7: Cross country

Stander wears three pairs of shoes en route to victory at Mankele

Muhl takes second consecutive victory

Burry Stander crosses the finish line at Mankele to secure his second consecutive win
Photo ©: MTN National Series
(Click for larger image)

Not even an unexpected head-start helped his rivals as Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized) overcame an unusual early setback to 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 2008 Under 23 World Cup champion, who convincingly won round one 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 four, 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 national cross-country champion Brandon Stewart with Max Knox (both DCM Chrome) rounding out the podium places.

Sara Muhl rides a steady race to claim her second win
Photo ©: MTN National Series
(Click for larger image)

"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," said 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 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 derailleur broke, forcing her out of the race after just one lap.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by MTN National Series

Results

Men overall (elite & U23)

1 Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized)    2.18.00
2 Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome)               5.06
3 Max Knox (DCM Chrome)                      5.10
4 Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin adidas)      8.31
5 Roan Exelby (Fullimput Morewood)           9.52
 
Elite men

1 Brandon Stewart (DCM Chrome)            2.23.06
2 Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin adidas)      3.25
3 Roan Exelby (Fullimput Morewood)           4.46
 
Under 23 men

1 Burry Stander (Mr Price Specialized)    2.18.00
2 Max Knox (DCM Chrome)                      5.10
3 Philip Buys (Garmin adidas)               12.20
 
Women overall (elite & U23)

1 Sara Muhl (Jeep)                        2.03.01
2 Heletjie van Staden (Schwinn)              2.36
3 Janneke Laesk                              3.53
4 Shawna Thunder (The Leigh Group)          17.11
5 Melanie Palframan (Fox)                   19.41