Olympic biker Burry Stander's death highlights road perils
Calls for measures to protect elite cyclists as yet another rider falls victim to dangerous roads
THE DEATH of champion South African mountain biker Burry Stander after a collision with a taxi, highlights once again the dangers faced by elite cyclists training on public roads.
Burry, who came fifth at the London Olympics, was killed on a training ride yesterday when he was hit by a taxi at Shelly Beach, a town in the KwaZulu-Natal province on South Africa's east coast. The 25-year-old, who was riding with his wife Cherise at the time of the accident, was a former Under-19 and Under-23 world champion.
Tributes to the cyclist were lead by the South African sprinter Oscar Pistorious who said he was "absolutely devastated" by the death of his friend. Burry was a "South African icon and sporting great," Pistorius wrote on his Twitter account.
Burry's death is another blow to South African cycling after the death of top female road racer Carla Swart in January 2011. Swart died from injuries sustained after colliding with a car in the Free State Province.
Accidents between vehicles and elite riders are an international problem and seemingly on the rise. Less than a month ago, another professional mountain biker, Inaki Lejaretta, was killed by a car while training in Spain, reports BikeRadar.
And late last year, two of British cycling's biggest names - Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins - were both hurt after colliding with vehicles on public roads. The same week that Wiggins was hit by a van in Lancashire, GB cycling coach Shane Sutton was injured in a separate road accident in Manchester.
Gideon Sam, president of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC), told the Daily Mail more needed to be done to protect athletes.
"I've said this time and again but it is really time to work even harder at protecting both our runners and cyclists who use the roads daily to do their training," he said.