Heat, dust and tears on day two of World Champ

Pietermaritzburg – Day two of competition at the UCI MTB & Trials will be remembered by all for the testing conditions of scorching temperatures, strong winds and engulfing dust as well as the tears of joy and sorrow shed by many of the mountain biking community.

The day got underway with the junior women’s cross country race which saw Switzerland’s Alessandra Keller power to a commanding victory having worked her way through the field after a poor start, finishing ahead of Italy’s Emilie Collomb and Germany’s Sarah Bauer after European champ and pre-race favourite Malene Degn (Denmark) withdrew shortly after the start after a shunt from behind left her with a broken gear cable.

The junior men’s race was another prime example of complete and utter dominance as Germany’s Lukas Bauer destroyed the rest of the field to claim the gold medal ahead of Canada’s Peter Disera and Italy’s Gioele Bertolini – the young star’s second medal in two days after he formed part of the successful 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 as it became the 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 try to come to terms with the unique course.

Great Britain’s Tahnee Seagrave lead proceedings in the junior women’s session whilst France’s Loris Vergier and USA’s Richard Rude Jnr. appear to be the men to beat in the junior men’s downhill category as a mere seven one hundredths of a second separated the pair.

Despite tears of joy flowing for some, it was a somber affair for the Stander family, the local MTB 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 Cascades MTB Park.

Moving speeches from local politicians, sports administrators, family and friends remembering the remarkable contribution the South African great made to cycling in the country as well as the character and shining example that he was, were heard by numerous local and international cycling enthusiasts, including many of stander’s former contestants and close friends.

Friday’s schedule is action packed and kicks off when the Junior Women and Men Downhill finals take place at 10h00. The action then shifts from the downhill course to the Trials as the Elite Women (10h00-12h30 battle it out for top honours.

The first cross country action of the day will see the highly anticipated under 23 women’s clash get underway at 13h00 and will be followed by the equivalent men’s clash at 15h15.

The late afternoon’s action will see the Junior Men’s 20” Trials final take place from 16h00-17h30 before the first floodlit event of the contest, the Elite Men’s 20” Trials final, takes place from 18h00-19h30.

The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013. More information can be found atwww.mtbworldchamps.co.za

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A large crowd gathered to pay their respects to the late Burry Stander at the memorial garden opening at the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg. Photographer: Darren Goddard/Gameplan Media