With the dust barely settled, many will reflect on the 2013 UCI MTB Masters World Championships fondly as it was a dominant showing by the South African riders at the event held at the Cascades MTB Park over the past five days. Local stars bagged no fewer than 26 of the 63 medals on offer.
In the men’s cross-country event, South Africa managed to grab 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. The silver medals were slightly more scarce with only two being won by the South African riders with a determined Shan Wilson and Jan Withaar claiming the two second spots for South Africa.
There were three bronze medals won by the South African men with Andrew Mclean, Kim Phillips and Bruce Hansen taking the last podium places in their events.
The women were just as successful, bagging an equally successful eight medal haul with three golds, two silvers and three bronzes. Nedene Cahill, Genevieve Weber and Natalie Bergstrom claimed the top spots on the podium in the women’s 30-34, 35-39 and 40-44 age divisions respectively. The silvers went to Lyn Van Breda and Fran Ferreira whilst Helen Gibbings, Ann Harrison and Jeannie Dreyer won the bronze medals in their divisions.
The Masters downhill only consisted of eight events of which six were men’s events. Of those six there were seven medals won by South Africans including three golds, two silvers and two bronze medals.
It was heart-racing stuff as the men hurtled down the course with Chris Nixon claiming the 45-49 category, Myles Kelsey winning the 40-44 category and, arguably, the best win of the day saw Downhill course designer Nigel Hicks claim gold in the 30-34 year old category three seconds faster than second place Ludovic Corre from France.
In the two women’s race South Africa managed to win half of the medals that were on offer, which included a gold medal for Rika Olivier, silver for her regular rival Gina Nixon and bronze for Howick local Kathryn Fourie.
It was an emotional time for the Stander family who returned to a venue that their late son and South African mountain biking legend Burry enjoyed so much. Fittingly both Burry's father, Charles, and brother, Duane, competed, with Charles narrowly missing out on a podium as he claimed fourth in the men’s 60-64 cross-country event.
Duane participated 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 has 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,” said Duane.
“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,” Duane added.
Despite the event's action unfolding at Cascades MTB Park throughout, Sunday morning also saw a number of riders take part in the Mandela Marathon Honour Ride which saw cyclists, mainly Masters competitors from around the globe, head from Howick Sports Grounds to the Nelson Mandela capture site in honour of South Africa's former president.
The curtain may have come down on the Masters’ action however there is still plenty of action set to unfold at Cascades MTB Park over the course of the week as the mountain biking community's attention now shifts to the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships, where the best elite competitors from around the globe will compete across the various age groups of the downhill, cross country, cross country eliminator, cross country relay and trials events.
The UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Championships takes place at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg from 26 August to 1 September 2013.
More info can be found at www.mtbworldchamps.co.za
Summary of medals (by country)
Issued on behalf of 2013 UCI MTB World Champs – PMB
Photo: Hundreds of cross-country competitors took to the course at the UCI MTB Masters World Championships 2013 at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg as part of one of the largest masters world champs entry ever © Darren Goddard/?Gameplan Media