Stander shifts focus to MTB

2012-10-08 18:22

Johannesburg - Multiple South African road-racing champion Cherise Stander will make her swansong in road cycling at this year's Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge on November 18.

Stander said on Monday she would instead focus her attention on mountain-bike racing after a fallout with Cycling SA over her exclusion from the Olympic road cycling team for the London Games.

"I am not saying that I will never compete in road cycling events at all," Stander said.

"But after not being selected for the women's road cycling team that competed at the Olympic Games in London, and also because of the atmosphere at the World Road Championship in the Netherlands, I think it will be a good idea for me to focus on something else for a while."

From next year, Stander would compete virtually only in mountain-bike races.

Stander, who is married to Olympic cyclist Burry Stander, said her goal was to represent South Africa at the 2014 UCI World Marathon Mountain Bike Championship in Pietermaritzburg.

She has already made her mark in the off-road discipline by claiming the South African Marathon mountain-bike title in Wellington in August.

"I've really had enough of all the internal politics of South African cycling," she said.

"If circumstances should change over the next few years, I might consider a come-back to road cycling.

"But for now I will only compete in the odd local road race and, when I am overseas and an opportunity should arise, I might compete in a criterium."

In 2010, Stander made South African cycling history by winning both the Momentum 94.7 Mountain Bike Challenge as well as the Momentum 94.7 Cycle.

Last year she finished second in the Cycle Challenge.

However, this year she would not be able to compete in both the Cycle Challenge and Mountain Bike Challenge.

The Mountain Bike Challenge takes place on November 11 and the Cycle Challenge on November 18.

"I fully understand why the organisers decided to have the races on two different weekends," Stander said.

"Not everybody likes to race on two consecutive days, but I personally prefer it.

"For me the mountain bike event is a good warm-up for the next day's road race."

She said she hoped to win the Cycle Challenge to end off her year on a high.

"The Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge is one of the most special events on the local cycling calendar and there is great prestige involved for whoever wins," she said.

Stander knows full well that winning the race is easier said than done, and that she will face a strong field.

"In women's cycling this is one of the most difficult races to win, because it is so unpredictable and also because the racing is so hard," Stander said.

Stander tipped Lise Olivier and An-Li Pretorius as the two riders who could upset her plans.