South African cross-country champion Brandon Stewart has apologised to his rival Kevin Evans for an on-the-bike clash at the MTN National Marathon Series race in Barberton last month.
The incident resulted in Evans, who races for the MTN Energade team and is South Africa's mountain bike marathon champion, crashing and lodging a complaint against Stewart, who races for the DCM Chrome team.
Stewart finished the race third, with Evans fourth. Stewart was then disqualified and, due to post-race comments he made to the media, risked being given a lengthy suspension for bringing the sport into disrepute.
SA-MTB, the mountain bike division of Cycling South Africa, stepped in to resolve the matter. The body called for a public apology from Stewart and placed him on a three-month suspension from racing, suspended for three months.
This means Stewart can continue racing on a probationary status and can compete in, among other events, the South African cross-country championships and the Subaru Sani2C and Absa Cape Epic stage races.
Stewart said: “What happened with Kevin was a racing incident which is usually the kind of thing that gets left behind once the race is over. I reacted aggressively to a dangerous move made by Kevin. However, I now realise that it wasn’t the right thing to do and apologise to Kevin and everyone else involved for my behaviour both during the race and afterwards.”
Evans and Stewart were teammates in 2007, pairing up to win the high-profile Subaru Sani2C stage race and then finishing seventh overall at that year’s Absa Cape Epic. They also became the first South Africans ever to win a stage at the Transalp stage race, where they finished third overall.