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Cycle Fest

[image] 26 February 2016

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Philip Buys (Scott) paid a fitting tribute to Burry Stander with the way he won the UCI sanctioned cross-country race at The Cycle Fest in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday (12 January). The event was named the Burry Stander Cross Country Memorial in remembrance of Stander.

Following 36 hours of non-stop rain, the Cascades course was turned into a treacherous mud bath. Stander usually excelled in such conditions. Like Stander, Buys did not allow himself to be intimidated by the muddy conditions. He accelerated the moment the starting pistol was fired and immediately took the lead.

Buys remained cool and calculated and increased his lead with every pedal stroke.  He gave an almost faultless performance of what cross-country racing should be about. By the end of the first lap it was a foregone conclusion that he would win and that the real battle would be for the second place.

Buys won the Burry Stander Memorial Race in a time of 1 hour 50 minutes and 18 seconds.

Max Knox (Specialized) surprised by finishing second, merely 62 seconds adrift. It was only the second time during the past three years that the South African marathon champion competed in a cross-country race. Rourke Croeser was third, 4 minutes and 23 seconds behind Buys. Buys said after the race:  "It was really special to win a race in which Burry's memory was honoured. I owed it to him to ride aggressively. "During the past three years I have been privileged to be involved in some tough skirmishes with Burry. This taught me that the only way to excel in cross-country racing is to go out hard and not allow yourself to be intimidated by the conditions, because there is nothing you can do about it.

"On Saturday it was muddy and wet for everybody. The other reason why I decided to make the racing hard from the start was because I wanted to intimidate my rivals. They should realize that it will take some doing to beat me in one of the local cross-country events."

When asked about his surprising result in the cross-country race, Knox just laughed. "I was just out there having fun and to prove to myself that all the training I have been doing over the past few weeks was paying off." Knox's performance was impressive. With his never-say-die approach he managed to move up from fifth to second position during the last few laps.

Greg Minnaar, UCI Downhill World Champion, was the other hero of The Cycle Fest.

He won the 40km marathon, the Eliminator and the Enduro. "Fun," was the word Minnaar used to describe his various races. I was in the lucky position that there was no real pressure on me to perform, so I could enjoy myself.  But it still felt good to win."

According to Minnaar, The Cycle Fest has the makings to become one of the main events on the South African racing calendar. "It is a pity that the weather was so bad, but I don't think the riders who entered really minded."

Mariske Strauss (Contego) won the women's cross-country and marathon races. "After not really getting any good results last year, it was important for me to win again.  I wanted to prove to myself that I still have what it takes to win a race," Strauss said.

Strauss, who will be studying BSc Sports Science at the University of Stellenbosch, said that her main focus for this season will be on cross-country racing. "It will be the last year that I will be racing as an u.23 rider and I would like to achieve a good result at the World Championship, especially because it will be held in Pietermaritzburg."

Strauss's winning time in the cross-country race was 1:43:53.   Ashleigh Parker-Moffatt was second and Samantha Sanders third.

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