By Bardy the Action Scribe
Photos by Gary Perkin

A bout of bad luck in the form of two punctures ended any chance of Burry Stander impressing his home fans against some of the world’s top mountain bike racers at the first round of the Mazda MTN SA Cup cross-country event in Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch at the weekend.

Andrew Neethling was in top form with two fast runs to claim the Elite Men’s Downhill title.

Stander, South Africa’s best male cross-country racer and firm favourite for Olympic selection, led a rather illustrious field for about 6km before his first puncture forced him to watch helplessly as the likes of mountain biking superstars Christoph Sauser and Bart Brentjens took up the podium battle in his absence.

Myles Kelsey tackles a rough section on his way to the runner-up place in the Sub-Veteran Men’s Downhill event.

Ultimately, it was Sauser, the two time-World Cup winner and current world marathon champion that would claim the victory, just over two minutes ahead of Brentjens, a former world, Olympic and World Cup champion.

Yolande Speedy led from start to finish in the Pro-Elite Women’s cross-country race.

“I was so disappointed not to be able to race the whole race,” said Stander. “I had a 50-second lead before the end of the first lap when I punctured and thought I could ride with the flat rear tyre into the start-finish area for a replacement. But the tyre came off the rim and broke my rear derailleur! The second puncture in the front tyre was totally my fault after I picked a poor line and caught it on a tree stump.

Christoph Sauser’s immense talent and experience helped take him to a solid victory in the Elite Men’s cross-country event.

“The international guys helped give the race a great vibe and I was super-hungry to race against them. But now I’ll have to wait until the first World Cup race in early April to see where I am against those guys.”

 Mountain bike legend, Bart Brentjens, was a star attraction in the Elite Men’s cross-country event where he finished second.

Despite his DNF, Stander’s hopes of heading to Beijing remained solid when South Africa was given one place each for a male and a female for the 2008 Olympics, according to the International Cycling Union (UCI), which released it’s Beijing Games nation allocation at the weekend.

The Elite Men’s cross-country podium (from left): Bart Brentjens (second), Christoph Sauser (first) and Silvio Bundi (third).

Another European, Silvio Bundi of Switzerland, collected third place with Roan Exelby’s fourth place making him the first South African home and giving him the early lead in the five-event Mazda MTN SA Cup Series.

Yolande Speedy (IMC Racing) confirmed her status as the country’s leading female cross-country racer winning the Elite women’s race by more than three minutes. Speedy led from start to finish to clock a respectable time of 01hr47min43sec, beating current Dutch national cross-country champion, Laura Turpijn and reigning SA champion, Amy Jane Mundy (Jeep) into second and third respectively.

In the Downhill on Sunday, reigning South African Elite Men’s champion Andrew Neethling (Mongoose) was in a class of his own in claiming the victory with two fast, consistent runs. His first run was a snappy 03min11.61sec and he managed to shave that down to 03min11.22 with his second run, more than 10 seconds quicker than his nearest rival, Greg Saharin (03:22.36). Neethling’s archrival, Johann Potgieter, was unable to improve on his first run of 3:23.42, but it was rapid enough to ensure he rounded out Elite Men’s podium positions.

Sub-veteran Gary Barnard showed up his younger rivals somewhat with the second fastest time of the day with a 3:21.77, which he clocked on his second descent, while reigning US Downhill champion, Cole Bangert, added some international spice to the event and ended with a solid fifth place in the Elite Men’s category.

Round 2 of the Mazda MTN SA Cup will take place on 9 and 10 February in Gauteng.

Mazda MTN SA Cup N0. 1: 19, 20 January 2008
Leading results


Pro-Elite Women
1 Yolande Speedy (RSA) 01hr47min43sec
2 Laura Turpijn (NED) 01:52:19
3 Amy-Jane Mundy (RSA) 01:55:08
4 Sara Muhl (RSA) 01:55:42
5 Katrin Leumann (SUI) 02:01:37

Pro-Elite Men
1 Christoph Sauser (SUI) 02hr24min26sec
2 Bart Brentjens (NED) 02:27:10
3 Silvio Bundi (SUI) 02:29:04
4 Roan Exelby (RSA) 02:29:56
5 Oliver Munnik (RSA) 02:30:35
6 Renay Goustra (RSA) 02:31:39
7 Bas Petersmann (NED) 02:32:14
8 Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 02:35:25
9 Phillip Buys (RSA) 02:35:57
10 Craig Paul (RSA) 02:36:29

Elite Men
1 Andrew Neethling (RSA) 03min11.22sec
2 Greg Saharin (RSA) 03:22.36
3 Johann Potgieter (RSA) 03:23.42
4 Wesley Augustyn (RSA) 03:24.61
5 Cole Bangert (USA) 03:26.98

Overall Men
1 Andrew Neethling (RSA) 03:11.22 (Elite)
2 Gary Barnard (RSA) 03:21.77 (Sub-veteran)
3 Greg Saharin (RSA) 03:22.36 (Elite)
4 Johann Potgieter (RSA) 03:23.42 (Elite)
5 Wesley Augustyn (RSA) 03:24.61 (Elite)
6 Pierre van der Merwe (RSA) 03:24.86 (Junior)
7 Hayden Brown (RSA) 03:25.67 (Junior)
8 Luke Davis (RSA) 03:26.26 (Junior)
9 Cole Bangert (USA) 03:26.98 (Elite)
10 Myles Kelsey (RSA) 03:27.36 (Sub-veteran)