JOHANNESBURG - Mountain biker Burry Stander has died after being run-over by a motor vehicle on KwaZulu-Natal’s South Coast.
Stander represented South Africa at the London 2012 Olympic Games and has been at the forefront of the sport in the country.
Cycling SA President William Newman confirmed on Thursday that the 25-year-old was out training when the accident happened.
“He was out training, and apparently there was a motorist accident.”
Newman described the death of the defending Absa Cape Epic champion as “tragic”.
Former cyclist Andrew Mclean said he was alerted about the accident by another cyclist who stumbled across the scene.
“We’re not sure of all the details. By the sounds of it, he (Burry) locked his shop up and was on his way home - riding with his dad.
Mclean said it was believed a taxi knocked him over and fled the scene.
Stander has been described as a game-changer.
Editor for Bicycling SA, Mike Finch, said: "I think he is one of those first South Africans that has proved to the rest of South Africa that you can be the best in the world.
"This is why it is such a sad day, because he has not only been a great cyclist, but a great ambassador for the sport around the world and around South Africa.
“He has raised the profile of the sport in SA massively over the last few years."
Finch said Stander, who he described as a “gentleman”, had also encouraged younger cyclists interested in the sport and offered them guidance.
Meanwhile, South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) President Gideon Sam said he was shocked that South African athletes were being killed on the roads and questioned whether it was because of negligence on the country's roads.
Stander and road cyclist Cherise tied the knot last year.