Both riders were dominant in their respective categories, with Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel_ winning the men’s 62km race by more than five minutes and Lill (dormakaba) waiting for 15 minutes before the women’s runner-up was known. Both riders come from XC-racing backgrounds, which stood them in good stead on a course with a high percentage of singletrack through some of the most picturesque countryside in the country.
In the men’s race, Gert Heyns was the early aggressor, charging into the lead from a small six-rider group. The pursuit of Heyns saw the front group split with only Beukes and Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) left before Woolcock slipped out and lost contact Beukes.
Beukes then bridged across to Heyns and the pair set about sharing the pace to build up a firm lead by the 30km mark where Beukes upped the pace to an intensity that Heyns was unable to match. For the second half of the race, Beukes continued to increase his lead, eventually finishing in a time of 02 hours 34 minutes 56 seconds.
Heyns began to tire, but managed to hold off a strong-finishing Woolcock to grab second place in 2:40:14 with Woolcock rounding off the podium in 2:41:37. Marco Joubert (Momsen Bikes) and Jurgens Uys (Giant Bikes) completed the top five respectively.
“It was quite a good day. The conditions were perfect and the route was so nice. I think it’s probably one of my favourite routes I’ve ever done. Hats off to the Advendurance guys. With the recent rains, the course was super fast. I played my cards right in the first 30 kays and then took off from there,” said a satisfied Beukes.
“Matthys was really strong today. I felt a bit tired all day but it wasn’t too bad. I got away in the beginning, but they caught me again. A branch went into my back wheel and I had to stop to remove it, which lost me some time. The route was nice and grippy after the rain though,” said Heyns.
“It was super-fast today. The route lent itself to being very technical. Hats off to Matthys for showing good form. In the second half, I was catching Gert (Heyns) on the climbs and he was gapping me on the descents. The rain gave us more traction, but it was a bit slippery at times in some of the shaded areas,” said Woolcock, who maintains his lead in the series with one round remaining.
“I am hoping to win the series. It looks like it will be a tussle between myself and Gert. It’s been a great series with some hard, high quality racing on superb routes,” added Woolcock.
In the women’s race, the withdrawal of South African champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health), saw a weakened field leave the start line. Lill though, brimming with confidence after her strong victory at Round 5 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series the weekend before, took an early lead, which she never relinquished.
Lill set a rapid pace and looked very comfortable on the twisty singletrack finishing an impressive 16th overall and first female in a time of 3:05:42. Carmen Buchacher (Velocity Sports Lab), who suffered a mechanical and missed a turn, finished a distant second in 3:20:41. Courteney Webb was third in 3:32:47.
“It was quite unexpected how beautiful this route was. The singletrack is stunning and I can see there’s been a lot of work put into it. I rode a pace I thought I could maintain for 70 kays and it was fast enough to ride away from the other girls. I wouldn’t say it was easy. There was quite a lot of climbing,” smiled a delighted Lill.
“I can’t say I’m not happy with second. I do have to mention that my front fork did collapse. So I had to take it a bit easier on the downhills. A wrong turn didn’t help either. But on the flipside, it’s a beautiful day and the course is phenomenal. If you love mountain biking and singletrack, this course is perfect,” said Buchacher.
“It’s my first podium position overall and my best Nissan Trailseeker result so far. There was a lot climbing in the beginning and it was quite cold at the start, so it was quite hard to warm up. About 15 kays in the sun came out and the singletrack started and it was just amazing,” said Webb.
In the Half-marathon, Junior Rossouw Bekker was the first male and Junior Allison Morton the first female.
Round 3, Bosman Family Vineyards, Wellington
Overall men 70km marathon
1 Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) 2:34:56
2 Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) 2:40:14
3 Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) 2:41:37
4 Marco Joubert (Momsen Bikes) 2:43:41
5 Jurgens Uys (Giant Bikes) 2:47:11
6 Dylan Rebello (Imbuko Momsen) 2:47:12
7 Robert Hobson 2:51:53
8 Dominic Calitz 2:54:07
9 Chris Wolhuter 2:57:03
10 Nico Pfitzenmaier (dormakaba) 2:57:10
Overall women 70km marathon
1 Candice Lill (dormakaba) 3:05:42
2 Carmen Buchacher (Velocity Sports Lab) 3:20:41
3 Courteney Webb 3:32:47
4 Lehane Oosthuizen 3:36:50
5 Louise Ferreira 3:39:37
6 Jeanie de Villiers 3:44:36
7 Simone van Aardt 3:47:31
8 Jana Kruger 3:47:53
9 Megan Warner 3:48:17
10 Dene Conroy-De Wet 3:49:55
Overall male 40km half-marathon
1 Rossouw Bekker 1:48:16
2 Stiaan Pretorius 1:48:45
3 Thomas Hudson 1:54:54
Overall female 40km half-marathon
1 Alison Morton 2:17:49
2 Stéfke Tolmay 2:17:52
3 Milandi van Zyl 2:23:11
For full results visit www.saseeding.org