Pyga Euro Steel have dominated the South African stage-racing scene in 2017, with Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes taking the top spot at both joBerg2c and sani2c. They also won the African Jersey at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic, finishing an impressive seventh overall. Phil is currently leading the Ashburton Investments National Mountain Bike Series, with Matthys close behind in second place.
Kombo Bere, the 2016 Zimbabwean national champion, has had promising results in XCO including second in the 2017 KZN Provincial XCO Championships.
Julian Jessop is one of South Africa's most dynamic young riders and the current u23 XCO South African National champion.
Team Manager Ruan Lochner had the following to say about the signing: "I met Julian at the World Championships in Andorra in 2015, he rode a fantastic race finishing 14th Junior. His fighting spirit in that race showed a lot of character and since then he has been on our radar. He also defended his u23 SA title on 22 July in Mankele by a big margin. Julian just turned 20, he is such a lively character and very enthusiastic, he also has a lot of skill coming from motorbike and XCO racing. In a team, things don't always go according to plan and having this type of character in the mix helps a lot to lift the spirits."
Patrick Morewood of Pyga Bikes added: "I have had the good fortune to have been a part of Julian’s mountain bike journey over the past 10 years or so, both as a casual observer and an occasional advice giver. Julian’s attitude and approach to riding really resonate with us at Pyga, he simply loves being out on his bike riding trails, the same trails we ride testing and developing our bikes. The Jessop family have been supporters of our brand from the outset of Pyga and it fills me with a huge amount of pride that through dedication and hard work Julian has earned his place on the Team. We could not be happier with this signing and look forward to fun times ahead."
Phillimon Sebona shone at the 2017 Absa Cape Epic, comfortably winning the Exxaro Development jersey alongside teammate William Mokgopo: coming in 42nd overall. His victory at the Magalies Monster proves that he is a force to be reckoned with outside of the development category and is set to be an asset to the Pyga Euro Steel team.
Ruan Lochner noted: "Phillimon has won three Exxaro Development jerseys and completed five Cape Epics. We worked closely with him at this year's Epic and together with Pyga could help with providing bikes to do the race. His dominant performance in this category showed that he is capable of much more. He recently did the Magalies Monster MTB race fighting back hard to take the win, and that is the type a character that resonates with us. Phillimon has a lot of stage racing experience, his calm never give up attitude is something not all mountain bike racers have. His story inspires a lot of people and a true testimony to believing in your dreams."
Oliver Burnett of Pyga Bikes had the following to say: “Development in sport is something that has always been very close to my heart and when we had the opportunity to help Phillimon at the Cape Epic, we jumped at the chance. Phillimon rewarded us with a win in his category and subsequent overall wins in local races. It is Phillimon’s obvious talent, incredible attitude towards his sport and life that has now earned him a spot on the team. He is a shining example of what is possible with very few, if any, advantages in life. We have no doubt that Phillimon will fulfil his potential in a professional setup and we can’t wait to start this journey with him.”
Pyga Euro Steel will be focussing on marathon racing for the remainder of the season, with two National MTB Series races remaining. The team also take part in three multi-day races: 3 Towers, Berg & Bush, and Wines2Whales. Julian and Phillimon will team up for the 2018 Cape Epic, racing alongside Philip and Matthys, with the aim of learning as much as possible from them about stage racing.
Julian is heading off to Australia this week for the XCO World Championships. With a solid block of training behind him and a good result this weekend, winning the Mandela Day Marathon, the team are hoping for a good result down under. He will link up with David Evans from SRAM Australia, whom the team hosted at the 2017 Cape Epic, helping to consolidate a support network abroad.