26 August 2013
South African competitors claimed 10 gold medals at the UCI Masters Mountain Bike World Championships in Pietermaritzburg over the weekend. A further 18 local riders also claimed either silver or bronze medals.
In the men’s cross country events, South Africans picked up three of the eight gold medals that were available, with the impressive showing from the local riders further boosted by the bagging of a further combined five silvers and bronze cross country medals.
The gold medal winners were Nico Pfitzenmaier, Paul Furbank and Linus Van Onselen in the 40-44, 55-59 and 60-64 categories respectively. Shan Wilson and Jan Withaar claimed two silvers for the host nation, while Andrew Mclean, Kim Phillips and Bruce Hansen finished third in their events.
The women’s success matched that of the men exactly, with eight medals being won, made up of three gold, two silver and three bronze medals.
Nedene Cahill, Geneveive Weber and Natalie Bergstrom stood atop the podium in the women’s 30-34, 35-39 and 40-44 age divisions respectively, while silvers went to Lyn Van Breda and Fran Ferreira, with Helen Gibbings, Ann Harrison and Jeannie Dreyer taking home bronze medals.
The Masters’ downhill competition consisted of eight events, six of which were for men. South African riders came away with seven medals, including three golds, two silvers and two bronze medals.
It was heart-pounding stuff as the men hurtled down the course with Chris Nixon claiming the 45-49 category victory, Myles Kelsey winning the 40-44 category, and the man who knows the course better than anyone else, course designer Nigel Hicks, winning a rainbow-striped jersey by crossing the finishing line three seconds clear of second placed Ludovic Corre in the 30-34 age category.
In the women’s races, Rike Olivier won a gold medal, her regular rival Gina Nixon won silver and Howick local Kathryn Fourie took away a bronze.
It was an emotional time for the family of Burry Stander family who returned to a venue that their late son and South African mountain biking legend enjoyed so much.
Fittingly both Burry’s father, Charles, and brother, Duane, competed, with Charles narrowly missing out on a podium place after he finished fourth in the men’s 60-64 cross country event.
Duane was involved in the men’s 30-34 category and felt that being part of the event was something that he needed to do, even though he might not have been completely prepared for the occasion.
“I just wanted to ride and be a part of the event. The build-up been tough, especially with my motivation to ride since the Epic being pretty low, so I was suffering from lap one out there today and it was all Burry that got me through those last three laps,” he said after the race.
“Burry was probably looking down on me and having a bit of a laugh at my suffering, but the thought of him definitely got me through that today.
“Cycling and mountain biking has been in our family for years. It’s in our blood, and the support we’ve received from the whole cycling community has just been tremendous.
“Burry’s message to those getting ready for the elite competition would probably be along the lines of just go out there and have fun, try your best, and give it your all, and if you do that then I’m sure he would be extremely proud.” he concluded.
The track action unfolded at the Cascades MTB Park, but on Sunday morning a number of selected riders took part in the Mandela Marathon Honour Ride which saw cyclists, mainly Masters competitors from around the world, head from the Howick Sports Grounds to the Nelson Mandela capture site in honour of South Africa’s former president.
While the curtain has fallen on the Masters World Championships, the action is set to hot up even more with the UCI MTB abd Trials World Championships taking place at the Cascades MTB Park from Monday, 26 August, to Sunday, 1 September.
Elite competitors from around the world will compete across the in open, junior and under-23 competition in downhill, cross country, cross country eliminator, cross country relay and trials events.
(Country, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Total)