In boxing they talk about a ‘one-two’ combination during fights which refers to a boxer landing good punches in quick succession.
The ‘one-two’ combination was definitely applicable to Saturday’s Nissan TrailSeeker Down and Dirty event, held in Centurion.
Burry Stander (specialised) landed the first ‘clean blow’, winning the men’s 70 km marathon in two hours, 22 minutes and nine seconds.
Sixteen minutes later Cherise Stander (Momentum Toyota) won the women’s marathon in 2:38:50, completing the ‘one-two’.
It is the first time in the Nissan TrailSeeker history that a husband-wife combination managed to achieve this.
Stander is the first to admit that there were times during his race that he doubted a winning finish.
‘I really suffered during the first 40 kilometres. I just could not get going. My legs were ‘dead’. It must be because of the hard training I did the week prior to the race.Fortunately I found my rhythm halfway into the race. This was when the serious racing started.’
This was generally when things started to get exciting as Stander, Philip Buys (USN), Neil MacDonald and Waylon Woolcock (both RE:CM), and Nico Buys (Westvaal Columbia) all tried their luck launching attacks to get away. However, due to the windy conditions and furious pace it was a near impossible challenge.
‘Going into the last five kilometres I realised that the race’s finish will be based on a sprint to the finish line and rode a little bit more conservatively – saving myself for when it would matter,’ Stander said, who is currently third on the UCI’s cross country rankings.
In the last kilometre Buys was the first to attack. However, as he raced into the last corner whilst in the lead, he took the wrong line, and hit a bump, which led to his bike’s chain slipping.
The one second it took Buys to get his bike back into gear cost him the race. MacDonald was right on Buys’ wheel and accelerated to pass Buys, with Stander right behind him.
‘The mistake I made was not giving my all when I accelerated. I thought the finish was a hundred metres further. Not racing flat-out enabled Burry to overtake,’ MacDonald said.
Macdonald, last year’s victor, said that he does not think that it is a shame to finish second to one of the world’s best riders. Woolcock, who was second last year, finished third. Nico Bell was fourth and Buys fifth. The time gap between the first four riders was a mere four seconds.
Afterwards Stander was full of praise for the way his rivals raced.
‘Everybody raced aggressively, which made for exciting racing. This is exactly what I needed before next Saturday’s (8 September) Cross Country World Championship.’
Buys will also be competing at the World Championship in Austria.