Sunday, March 27, 2011


Stander and Sauser leave Epic Contenders in the dust - by Nick van der Leek

South Africa versus Germany. That was the face of Sunday’s technical, twisty 27km tussle, a prologue involving a modest 750 metres of climbing. The first day’s racing, on the forested slopes of Tokai on a warm, windless day, was won by South Africa’s ace mountainbike rider, Burry Stander and world champion Swiss team mate, Christoph Sauser. The best time: 1:02.40,7.

The German duo from Multivan Merida biking came through in a surprising second, just over 1:40 behind. The favorites, also from Germany, Stefan Sahm and Karl Platt took third, thirteen seconds behind their compatriots. David George and Kevin Evans from 360Life finished their stint just 15 seconds behind the Bulls.

Whilst almost two minutes is perhaps an unassailable advantage in road cycling, it is not much of a cushion in MTB.

Sunday’s race was also noteworthy as Supersport’s first live broadcast; it was also the first time a multistage MTB event had been broadcast live anywhere in the world. The presence of blind adventurer Hein Wagner [riding for Team Pragma] rounded off a day of firsts, falls, broken chains, broken helmets and face plants. Andrew Mclean was one of the riders to kiss the dust, while another rider lost his saddle.

Also noteworthy amongst the top teams was the use of the controversial 29er bicycles. The main advantage appears to be these bicycles are less prone to sinking in soft sand or large holes [due to larger wheel size] however the larger wheels require greater strength for steering, and larger wheels tend to be heavier and more difficult to turn.

Monday’s first stage is a monster. 89km, 2050m of vertical climbing, it starts and finishes in Saronsberg Wine Estate outside Tulbagh and is likely to further separate the men from the boys.

POSTSCRIPT: Team RSAWeb’s Nic and Simon Lamond departed at 11:05 and had a good ride, but got snagged by backmarkers in single track, Simon crashed, breaking his helmet and buckling his front wheel, at approximately 21km. The battered and bruised pair finished in 1:21. “We were probably 7-8 minutes slower than we wanted to be,” Nic Lamond said, obviously disappointed.

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