Buys (Scott) racing in the elite category and Davids (Jeep-Specialized) in the under-23 class rode hard and fast setting lap times of little over 11-minutes on the course exceeding 4 kilometres per lap.
Davids, having ridden in the U.S.A. last year, kept pace with Buys in the first four laps at which point Buys showed the form he found in the London Olympics, and more recently the Absa Cape Epic, giving himself a very comfortable gap for the balance of the race.
Philip Buys (Scott) showed his phenomenal turn to form for cross-country racing when he won the Pro-elite race by almost a minute at round 2 of the Cycling SA-MTB National Cup Series in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo Credit: Mylene Loumeau/Cycling SA
Conditions were perfect with the red clay course being nice and tacky from the overnight rains.
Ahead of the race, Buys was uncertain of his form in terms of speed and acceleration after racing the 8-day Cape Epic endurance race recently, where he claimed top honours in the African Jersey category with his teammate Matthys Beukes. But his burst of speed on lap four showed his condition.
“The race was a wake-up call for me, it’s been two-and-a-half weeks after ’Epic and from the way we raced there I thought I’d be slow today,” said Buys. “The first 3 laps, I wanted to see what my legs felt like and on lap 4 I decided to go a bit faster to see what happens. It was very uncomfortable but we will be racing world cups from next month and I need to be super fast for that.
Brendon Davids (Jeep-Specialized) finished second overall and won the under-23 men's category at round 2 of the Cycling SA-MTB National Cup Series in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo Credit: Mylene Loumeau/Cycling SA
“I had some better lines coming through the rock garden and thought that I would capitalise on that. I made quite an effort in one lap and created quite a comfortable lead and from then on just kept a steady pace. Brendon is fast and it wasn’t easy, but with perfect coaching and recovery support from Jeroen (Swart) we’ve ensured that I was ready for this race,” continued Buys.
“Phil’s riding strong,” said Davids. “I tried to hit it hard from the start because I knew he would be feeling tired from the ’Epic and might take some time to warm up. I tried to get a gap on Phil a couple of times but the course really suits him with a lot of short steep climbs. From the fourth lap, Phil gave an extra surge and I just couldn’t match it. From there the gap pretty much remained the same and I tried to pull it back on the last lap but I got a little squirly on the rock garden, but that’s part of racing.”
Matthew Lombardi (Giant-Mavic) won the Youth category in an epic duel with Julian Jessop (Team Jeep) at round 2 of the Cycling SA-MTB National Cup Series in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo Credit: Mylene Loumeau/Cycling SA
The youth category presented an exciting race between two riders, Matthew Lombardi (Giant-Mavic) and Julian Jessop (Team Jeep) who seemed inseparable as the race progressed. Lombardi, who is one month away from 16, has focussed on XCO racing this season. He began racing when he was 8-years-old, and loved it from the first race.
“The start was hard. Marco (Joubert) put in a very fast start, we didn’t know how long the pace would last, but eventually he tapped off and Julian and I just were neck and neck, just fighting backwards and forwards and no-one seemed stronger than the other. I knew from lap 3 already that I wouldn’t beat this guy anywhere else but in a sprint finish.”
Alan Hatherly (BMC-SA) maintained a strong pace to take the win comfortably in the junior category at round 2 of the Cycling SA-MTB National Cup Series in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo Credit: Mylene Loumeau/Cycling SA
In the junior race, 17-year-old Alan Hatherly (BMC-SA) maintained a strong pace to take the win comfortably, despite recovering from a recent bout of bilharzia. “I put in some good interval training leading up to his race. It rained during the week so I was really glad that the course was dry today. Today’s conditions were perfect conditions and it was a good day for me.”
Summary of Results – 2013 SA National XCO Cup 2
Pro-Elite Men (7 laps)
- Philip Buys 01:27:25 (Elite)
- Brendon Davids 01:28:05 (U23)
- Travis Walker 01:31:57 (U23)
- Arno du Toit 01:33:06 (U23)
- Gert Heyns 01:34:46 (U23)
Junior Men (5 laps)
- Alan Hatherly 01:05:57
- Carlo Marsoppi 01:09:25
- Nicholas Popich 01:09:55
Youth Men (5 laps)
- Matthew Lombardi 01:08:02
- Julian Jessop 01:08:04
- Marco Joubert 01:10:42