In a show of selflessness, Beukes’ team, Contego, agreed to release their star marathon racer to partner with Buys for the eight-day race, which is considered mountain biking’s equivalent of the Tour de France.

Philip Buys of Team SCOTT, pictured here at The Cycle Fest in Pietermaritzburg last month, has found an ideal ABSA Cape Epic teammate in Matthys Beukes.

Photo credit: Zoon Cronje

Buys is thrilled at the prospect of teaming up with Beukes.

“My plan, since I joined SCOTT, was to always do this year’s Cape Epic. But I was prepared to skip it if I couldn’t find the ideal teammate. It’s a tough eight-day race against the world’s best riders. You don’t just pick anyone to partner with,” said Buys.

“Matthys and I raced as teammates at the Sani2c three-day race a few years ago and it was apparent then that we have similar riding styles and strengths. I believe we’ll be very well-matched and I look forward to racing at the highest level with him,” remarked Buys.

Buys has completed three Cape Epics, while this will be Beukes’ first appearance at the demanding race.

“None of my previous Cape Epics were super serious. I raced in a back-up team always, so the pressure was low. My best finish was 14th overall. I was also quite young. I’ve matured physically and mentally since then. I’m ready to give it my best shot,” smiled Buys.

Although he’s developed into a cross-country specialist over the past 18 months, Buys is a strong allrounder and has shown his ability to contest marathon and stage race podiums. Beukes on the other hand is more a marathon specialist, but a very capable cross-country racer too. Their cross-country racing prowess sees a high level of skill in Team SCOTT, which will be most beneficial on the technical sections of the race.

Matthys Beukes, pictured here winning The Herald VW Classic marathon last month, will be released from the Contego team temporarily to partner with Philip Buys on Team SCOTT for the 2013 ABSA Cape Epic.

Photo credit: Coetzee Gouws

“Firstly, I need to thank Contego for releasing me to take up this rare opportunity,” said Beukes. “It’s people like this that have their riders’ interests at heart and I really appreciate it,” said Beukes.

“Philip and I have known each other since our early Under-23 racing days and we’ve been friends since then. Our paths have been a little different but I look forward to them converging again for this year’s Cape Epic. I’d like to thank Phil and SCOTT Sports for the opportunity,” added Beukes.

Beukes and Buys have set themselves some important goals in this, the 10th anniversary of the Cape Epic.

“The African Leader’s jersey is obviously a key focus for us, but we’re not letting that become our primary goal,” said Buys. “Nothing is impossible and we could well find ourselves challenging for the overall race podium or stage wins, if things go well. I’ve never had full team support in the Cape Epic before and I’m feeling very positive about our chances of a high overall finish with the professional backing from SCOTT.”

“It’s going to be new to me on many levels, but having watched the race unfold over the years, I’ve seen how important durability is. So we’ll carefully plan our equipment to ensure we find the balance between light weight and durability,” said Beukes.

“We’ll take a slightly conservative approach in terms of our strategy. Things can go wrong more often when you’re over-eager,” added Beukes, who finished second at the MTN Barberton Classic Ultra-marathon and won The Herald VW Classic marathon during the past few weeks.

The pair will be racing SCOTT Spark 900 RCbikes – SCOTT’s flagship dual-suspension 29-inch wheel carbon-fibre frame model.

“We’re fortunate to have a choice of models from one of the world’s premier bike brands, but dual-suspension 29ers have become the platform of choice for the most of the top contenders at the Cape Epic over the past couple of years, so the Spark900 RCwill be perfect. It’s been race proven in the tough South African conditions, which makes us really confident too. And confidence is a big part of achieving your goals,” said Buys.