30 August 2013
Day two of competition at the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships in Pietermaritzburg brought with it scorching temperatures and strong winds, as well as tears from many in South Africa’s mountain biking community for the late Burry Stander.
It got under way with the junior women’s cross-country race, which saw Switzerland’s Alessandra Keller power to a commanding victory after a poor start that included being stuck in a jam and a fall.
She finished ahead of Italy’s Emilie Collomb and Germany’s Sarah Bauer after European champion and pre-race favourite Malene Degn of Denmark withdrew shortly after the start after a shunt from behind left her with a broken gear cable.
The junior men’s race was dominated by Germany’s Lukas Bauer, who destroyed the rest of the field to claim the gold medal ahead of Canada’s Peter Disera and Italy’s Gioele Bertolini, who picked up a second medal in two days after claiming gold as part of the Italian cross-country relay team on Wednesday.
Thursday also saw the second day of trials qualification unfold on the popular Cascades course, with both the junior men’s 26″ and the elite men’s 26″ rounds taking place.
In the juniors, a huge gulf formed between the first placed Brit Jack Carthy and the rest of the field as he ended a colossal 33 points ahead of the second-placed rider, Nils-Obed Rieker of Germany.
The elite men’s 26″ qualifying round was a much closer affair and became a battle between the French with Vincent Hermance, Aurelien Fontenoy and defending champion Gilles Coustellier claiming the top three spots respectively.
The afternoon session also saw the junior women and men’s timed runs take place on the dry downhill course, which deteriorated noticeably with temperatures soaring into the high thirties and riders flying down the hill throughout the day as they tried to come to terms with its unique challenges.
Great Britain’s Tahnee Seagrave led proceedings in the junior women’s session, while France’s Loris Vergier and the USA’s Richard Rude jnr set the pace in the junior men’s downhill category and were separated by a mere seven-one-hundredths-of-a-second.
Despite tears of joy flowing for some, it was a sombre affair for the Stander family, the South African mountain biking community and the entire cycling fraternity globally as a memorial ceremony for the late South African cycling legend Burry Stander – tragically killed when he was knocked off his bike whilst cycling on the road in early January this year – saw the opening of a commemorative garden at the Cascades MTB Park.
Moving speeches from local politicians, sports administrators, family and friends recalled the remarkable contribution the South African great made to cycling in the country, as well as the character and shining example that he was. Numerous local and international cycling enthusiasts, including many of Stander’s former rivals and close friends were in attendance.
Friday’s schedule is action packed and kicks off when the Junior Women’s and Men’s Downhill finals take place at 10:00. The action then shifts from the downhill course to the trials as the Elite Women battle it out for top honours from 10:00 to 12:30.
The first cross country action of the day will see the highly anticipated under-23 women’s race set off at 13:00. The men’s under-23 cross country will follow at 15h15.
Later, from 16:00 to 17:30, the Junior Men’s 20″ Trials final take place, followed by the first floodlit event of the contest, the Elite Men’s 20″ Trials final, which runs from 18:00 to 19:30.