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  1. Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys had a stellar season racing the Pyga Stage in 2017, winning most of the races they entered including the African jersey at the Absa Cape Epic. This year they've got a new colour frame, racing the black and white design available on the retail bikes. The Pyga Euro Steel team deck their Stage's out with SRAM components including a XX1 Eagle drivetrain, RockShox suspension, and Level Ultimate brakes. Matthys races on a 38 tooth chainring with a Quarq spider power meter on an XX1 crank. He also uses a custom 3D printed chain guide manufactured by Rapid 3D in Pietermaritzburg, who also assist Pyga with printing models during their bike frame development process. The bottom bracket is sourced from Enduro's TorqTite range. The team race on Deed Propel carbon rims. The rims spin on Deed hubs with Enduro ceramic bearings for smoother rotation. Matthys is rolling on 2.25" wide Maxxis Aspen tyres front and back, a fairly popular choice in the Cape Epic camps. Matthys's cockpit features Ritchey WCS handlebar, stem, and seat post. The handlebars are 720 mm wide with the stem measuring 110 mm with a 17-degree angle. He sits on a Selle Italia saddle and drives power through a set of Look X-Track pedals. Matthys appears to take the risk of tyre mechanicals seriously with a Liqui Moly tyre fix, plugs taped to the handlebar, a packed saddle bag, as well as a hand pump. Specification list: FramePyge Stage (Large size)ForkRockShox SIDShockRockShox MonarchRimsDeed PropelHubsDeed with Enduro ceramic bearingsTyresMaxxis Aspen 2.25HandlebarRitchey WCS carbon 720mmGripsSyncrosStemRitchey WCS 110 mmHeadsetCane CreekSeatpostRitchey WCS carbonSaddleSella Italia FliteBrakesSRAM Level UltimateBrake rotorSRAM CLX 160mmShiftersSRAM XX1 EagleRear derailleurSRAM XX1 EagleCassetteSRAM XX1 Eagle 10-50TCrank armsSRAM XX1ChainringSRAM 38TChainSRAM XX1 EagleBottom bracketEnduro TorqLitePedalsLook X-Track RaceBottle cagesSpecialized side entrySaddle bagLizard SkinsWeight11.96 kg (as pictured mid race with spares)
  2. Buys has won the red Absa African special jersey three times, while Beukes has lifted the Burry Stander Memorial trophy on four occasions, but their aim for 2018 is to become the first all-African team to be crowned champions at the Grand Finale. With a strong fifth place in 2017, Buys said they will go into the race better prepared than ever. “Our first ambition is to win the general classification,” said Buys, “but we will constantly assess and adjust our plan after each stage. If we find ourselves too far off a general podium position, then we will back off a bit for stage wins and secure the Absa African special jersey. The extra publicity of the red jersey is great for our sponsors but we want to compete against the best in the world – not just against the locals, so we keep on elevating our goals.” Having a back-up team has become a vital part of any challenge for the yellow jersey at the race. Buys and Beukes will be able to push hard at the front knowing they have mechanical support from their second Pyga Euro Steel team comprising Phillimon Sebona and Julian Jessop. Sebona has won the Exxaro special jersey twice and, at 26-years-old, has five Absa Cape Epics to his credit, while the 20-year-old Jessop will be making his debut. “My training has changed a bit more towards longer intervals and more torque efforts – low cadence intervals – on the bike, but our biggest changes would be more on the support side of things behind the scenes. Our sponsors have enabled us to expand our support crew and build on our team infrastructure. The bottom line is that we will be more relaxed and comfortable at Epic,” quipped Buys. With 11 Absa Cape Epics and five stage wins between them, Buys and Beukes have the experience of the many challenges the route can throw up. Buys, who rode in the 2012 London Olympics with the late Burry Stander, believes cross-country skills will be just as vital at the 2018 race as stamina. “If you look at the stage distances, the first half of the race seems to suit the marathon riders a bit more and then the last few stages seem to suit the cross-country riders more,” said Buys. “But I think that in general, cross-country riders, or riders with more skill are more efficient in their riding and save a bit more in the long run. That would be key during the end stages of any multi-day stage race.” “If you can go into the last few technical shorter stages in and around Wellington slightly fresher you can make up time. You can win the race if you are able to stick with the marathon guys in the early long stages and then punch them in the last stages when they are a bit more fried. In my opinion, the course will not necessarily determine the results, but rather your team plan and tactic.” “The shorter more technical stages seem very attractive, but we have proven before that going for the queen stage can also pay off for us, maybe go big when everyone least expects it.”
  3. The twelfth edition of the race, best known for producing extreme heat and challenging riding conditions, was by no means an easy one – though many of the riders would have welcomed the cooler than usual conditions. The race started under clear skies at Chandelier Game Farm, outside Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, but finished in unseasonal summer rains at Pine Creek Resort, in Groot Brak River. 3. The start of the 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, saw the race attract its largest ever field. Photo by Zoon Cronje. The cool conditions which prevailed in the early phases of the race, before the riders entered the Attakwaskloof Nature Reserve, allowed for fast paced racing in the elite men’s race. The PYGA Euro Steel duo were the main protagonists leading up to the King of the Mountain climb. “Matthys (Beukes) and I really pushed the pace, aiming for the course record” Philip Buys explained. “We knew if we made it hard, and increased the pace on every climb we would cause the lactic acid to build up in the other rider’s legs” Beukes elaborated. Gert Heyns, of DSV, raced to the King of the Mountain title at the summit of the Attakwas Pass. Photo by Zoon Cronje. Gert Heyns, DSV, helped Beukes and Buys with the paces making duties and eventually forced the split with Beukes as Buys was unable to match the pair as they raced for the King of the Mountain hot spot prize. Heyns was first over the summit of the Attakwas but punctured soon thereafter in a tricky section which was to affect the women’s race too. 4. The PYGA Euro Steel riders, and Matthys Beukes in particular, set the pace from the off during the 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen. Photo by Zoon Cronje. Beukes forged ahead on his own, gradually extending his lead to three minutes and forty seconds at the 85 kilometre mark and a full nine minutes by the finish. Heyns never recovered from his puncture and ended up finishing in tenth position as a series of riders, led by Buys and Bohme passed him before he was eventually handed a pump and was able to re-inflate his tyre. Buys remained in second position until the 85km mark when the Team Bulls rider, Bohme, caught him. The pair then worked together until Buys could no longer match Bohme, allowing the German to ride away to a hard fought second position. Buys completed the podium making it a first and third for PYGA Euro Steel. 5. 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, race winner Matthys Beukes in action. Photo by Zoon Cronje. The women’s race started with a tactical battle of cat and mouse between the leading contenders. A mechanical forced Carmen Buchacher out of the lead group. Reaching the first feed zone at the forty six kilometre mark Ariane Lüthi lead a group which included Robyn de Groot, Sabine Spitz, Jennie Stenerhag, Candice Lill and Yolande de Villiers. Spitz then drove the pace on the Queen of the Mountain climb and one-by-one the bunch was whittled down until only Lüthi followed Spitz’s wheel and Stenerhag, though not able to stay in touching distance kept the leaders in sight. 7. Ariane Lüthi looks over her shoulder as she wonders when the assault on her lead, which never transpired, would come. Photo by Zoon Cronje. Spitz claimed the Queen of the Mountain prize but then the same fate which blighted Heyns affected her race. “I did not realise straight away that I double flatted,” Spitz said. “I plugged the rear tyre and then noticed that the front was flat on the next descent and had to stop to bomb it too.” “I used my strengths and rode the descents in the Attakwas as fast as I could,” Lüthi revealed upon being asked where the decisive move was made. With a gap established she relied on all her years of Attakwas Extreme experience to race to victory. “It was so lonely. I just time trialled all the way from water point three (at the 65 kilometre mark) to the finish” she elaborated. The past two years have been the leanest in terms of victories in Lüthi’s career, which makes the 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, win all the sweeter. “I can’t believe it” a visibly emotional Lüthi confessed. “It is a massive confidence boost for the rest of the season.” Cape Brewing Co's Jennie Stenerhag crosses the finish line of the 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, in second position. Photo by Zoon Cronje. Stenerhag gained a confidence boost too. “I had a silly crash just rolling home after finishing my intervals last week. I hurt my arm and it bothered me all week, so I only decided to ride yesterday (Friday) morning” Stenerhag said post-race. “I did not feel that good and I struggled a bit for focus between water points three and four” she said. All things considered then Stenerhag displayed the signs of repeating her dominant form from 2017, especially when she teams up again with Esther Süss for the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, in February. Spitz recovered to finish third behind Stenerhag after she managed to reel in local favourite De Villers. Spitz and De Villiers worked together for nearly thirty kilometres before the pair entered the final descent side-by-side. De Villiers opened a slight gap with a risky ride on the treacherous, moss covered downhill, but she carried too much speed into the final corner and only just avoided a crash – but the loss of momentum handed Spitz the third position. The 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, was certainly one for the record books. Not only was this the largest ever field of starters, but the rain which soaked the course made it the wettest Attakwas in the event’s twelve year history; and with Lüthi winning her sixth race and Beukes becoming the first South African winner since he last won the race in 2012 it live fondly in the memories of the victors in particular for many years to come. The 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, men's podium. From left to right: Frans Claes (4th), Philip Buys (3rd), Matthys Beukes (1st), Tim Bohme (2nd) and Dylan Rebello (5th). Photo by Marike Cronje. The 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, women's podium. From left to right: Yolande de Villiers (4th), Jennie Stenerhag (2nd), Ariane Lüthi (1st), Sabine Spitz (3rd) and Candice Lill (5th). Photo by Marike Cronje. Results | 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen UCI Men: 1. Matthys Beukes (4:56:56 2. Tim Bohme (5:06:02 | +09:06) 3. Philip Buys (5:12:13 | +15:17) 4. Frans Claes (5:18:38 | +21:41) 5. Dylan Rebello (5:20:23 | +23:27)UCI Women: 1. Ariane Lüthi (5:45:11) 2. Jennie Stenerhag (5:57:11 | +12:00) 3. Sabine Spitz (6:01:31 | +16:20) 4. Yolande de Villiers (6:01:32 | +16:20) 5. Candice Lill (6:06:05 | 21:51) For the full results from the 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, please click here.
  4. The breathtaking forest trails at the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Kaapsehoop. Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Matthys Beukes put the Pyga Euro Steel showdown to rest when we walked away with the Kaapsehoop title. He made an early attack in the race, and managed to get a slight lead on Buys from the 35km mark. He admitted that his victory did not come easy, however: "I had to push extremely hard in those final 2km, and just managed to come out on top!" Buys, who finished in a close second place, showed nothing but pride for his teammate: “All I can say is well done to Matthys! He had a rough season last year, and he made sure to make up for everything he missed out on."The first stage of the event had all eyes on Team Pyga Euro Steel's Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes who have entered into an epic battle for the series title. A lot is at stake for the mountain biking heroes, who took their place at the Kaapsehoop start line today with less than a 200 point difference on the series standings. It was Beukes who came out on top for the first stage of the event, with Buys taking second. Beukes did not fail to live up to his climbing abilities, and was a tough competitor to beat. He tackled the day's 1600m elevation gain with ease, and widened the gap on his teammate on the final climb to the finish line. Elite male riders HB Kruger, Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes. Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Reflecting on the season, he added, "So happy with the way it has all ended. This series is important to us - it has the most diversity, prize money and represents our sponsors really well. It's also the ideal opportunity for youngsters to start smashing us elite riders, It's been awesome to see guys like Wessel Botha come out here and actually challenge us,” he added. Team BCX's HB Kruger showed incredible form in the second stage of the event, and managed to narrow the gap on the leading riders to finish less than a minute behind Buys. Rising star Wessel Botha proved to South Africa's mountain biking giants that he is a force to be reckoned with, and finished the stage with a well-deserved fourth place. It was another successful day for Dormakaba's mountain biking star Candice Lill, who walked away with the Kaapsehoop event title and a second place in the popular series. Yolandi du Toit took second and Vanessa Bell charged across the finish line to snatch the final spot on the podium. Elite lady riders Vanessa Bell, Yolandi Du Toit and Candice Lill. Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Lill admitted that she was presented with more of a challenge from her female competitors than the first stage: “Yolandi went really hard at the start today, so I stayed with her for quite a while. I managed to get away on a single track that lead to a climb, and had a panic attack when I got a puncture. I sorted it out, luckily, and it felt incredible to keep my lead,” said Lill. Du Toit described the final stage to be extremely tough. "Today was more challenging for me than yesterday. Despite having better conditions, we climbed 1600m in 54km!” she said. Kaapsehoop was a race of unparalleled beauty that boasted exquisite singletrack trails through the De Kaap Valley. Sections of the race took riders through the Blue Swallow Reserve, a countryside that is characterised by rolling hills and Blue Swallows that the area is renowned for. With a clearer visibility in the final stage of the event, Beukes made sure to boast about the beauty of the trail: “We could actually see just how beautiful Kaapsehoop is today, and the trails here are just incredible. Even with all the pressure, I found myself often looking out and taking it all in,” he said. For more results visit https://www.saseeding.org/ Results Full Marathon - men1 Matthys Beukes (Team Pyga Euro Steel) 2:16:16 2 Philip Buys (Team Pyga Euro Steel) 2:17:15 3 HB Kruger (Team BCX) 2:17:35 4 Wessel Botha (Lynnwood Cyclery) 2:19:54 5 Declan Sidey (Specialized Bicycles) 2:20:06 Full Marathon - women 1 Candice Lill (Dormakaba) 2:44:45 2 Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) 2:50:01 3 Vanessa Bell (Bell's Cycling) 2:58:00 4 Dalene van der Leek 3:09:14 5 Melanie Roux 3:09:15 Overall Full marathon - Men 1 Matthys Beukes (Team Pyga Euro Steel) 4:57:29 2 Philip Buys (Team Pyga Euro Steel) 5:00:42 3 HB Kruger (Team BCX) 5:09:15 4 Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) 5:14:11 5 Shaun-Nick Bester 5:15:06 Full Marathon - Women 1 Candice Lill (Dormakaba) 5:57:46 2 Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) 6:13:55 3 Vanessa Bell (Bell's Cycling) 6:52:23 4 Dalene van der Leek 7:00:37 5 Melanie Roux 7:14:02
  5. Photo credit: Em Gatland The race within a race is a 1.3km dash for cash held in the evening after day two’s racing at the Berg & Bush Descent. Beukes winning time was four minutes, 38 seconds, while Lill charged home in a time of five minutes and 55 seconds. Riders start their engines at the entrance to famous Spionkop battle site and rev all the way into the red zone as the head for the summit. First place in the men’s and ladies race each takes home R20 000. The Volvo Spionkop Summit was first held three years ago and has proven to be popular with riders and spectators alike. The race is open to anyone in the Berg & Bush field, but the challenge is usually accepted by the elite riders - and a few enthusiastic weekend warriors - with the bulk of the field lining the Spionkop climb to support the racing. Cash per kilometre, it is probably the richest mountain bike race in South Africa and certainly one of the very few times where mountain biking fans can see the efforts of elite riders up close. Cowbells, raucous cheers and a Drakensberg backdrop dripping in golden light from the sunset make the Spionkop Summit an event to remember. Men’s winner Beukes certainly won’t forget it in a hurry. “Hard. That’s the only word to describe it,” he puffed at the top. After slightly regaining his composure from the lung-busting effort, he continued, “Hard. Hard. Hard.” In a field featuring rising star Julian Jessop, Gawie Combrinck, Nico Bell and Phil Buys, Beukes came out on top, on top, thanks to a superior warm up. Ahead of the race he went up Spionkop twice at race pace. “I went up before the race; I went hard for two minutes, relaxed for two minutes, then went really hard again for the last 40 seconds.” His warm up and subsequent race strategy proved to be a winner. With 100m to go, Beukes was lying fifth in a bunch, but he accelerated when it mattered, crossing the line first while looking over his shoulder for a tiring Bell. In the background, his ecstatic Pyga teammates were shouting prize money spending advise, “Nappies! Baby formula! More nappies.” Photo credit: Em Gatland In the ladies race, Candice Lill was the dominant force. From the halfway mark of the sprint, she was in a bunch with teammate Vera Adrian and Berg & Bush Descent race leaders, Amy Beth McDougall and Sam Sanders. By the time they reached the last twist in the road to the summit, Lill was in a class of her own, crossing the line comfortably ahead of second-placed McDougall. “The plan was always to come and win this,” said Lill. “The racing wasn’t too bad until we all saw the spectators, then the guys just went nuts and started hammering it! I did three warm up rides, so I knew exactly when to lay off and when to kick. This is tough, but it’s great to race in front of cheering people.” Race organiser Gary Green was thrilled with the turnout. “This adds something extra to our event, and I have to say, I’m so impressed with the effort that these guys put in. They are racing during the day, then they still come up here and give it their all. It’s something special and unique for the spectators too; there’s not many opportunities to watch elite riders like this, and I think this race shows everyone how strong these guys are.” Volvo Spionkop Summit resultsMen 1 Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 00:04:38 2 Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) 00:04:40 3 Phil Buys (Pyga Euro Steel) 00:04:47 Ladies 1 Candice Lill (dormakaba) 00:05:55 2 Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 00:06:05 3 Sam Sanders (Valencia Ladies) 00:06:08 Planning your next race? Take a look at our events calendar here.
  6. The men’s title was claimed by Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel), with Amy Beth McDougall and Sam Sanders (Valencia Ladies) romping home in fine style to claim the ladies crown. Team Pyga Euro Steel lead NAD Pro MTB. Photo credit: Em Gatland. On day three, Buys and Beukes claimed their second stage win of the event in a time of 01:51:45. McDougall and Sanders won day three in the ladies race (02:03:54), claiming their third straight stage win in the process. Last year’s defending champions in the ladies, Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba), placed second overall after three days of racing (though Lill will leave the event R20 000 richer after winning Saturday’s Volvo Spionkop Summit). “We’re so happy with this win,” beamed McDougall. Sanders added, “We’re happy with the way we rode, and the way we approached the racing. Last week we had terrible luck at a race, but this weekend everything wen’t according to plan.” With a few races still to come before the end of the season, McDougall will eventually clock in at 10 stage races for the year. The riding seems to be paying off, though. “Sam and I are racing really well; we’re in good form and in a good place. At the moment we are riding at a similar level and that really makes for a good team vibe. We also both enjoy riding, which makes racing together great fun.” Valencia Ladies negotiating the turns. Photo credit: Em Gatland. For Buys and Beukes, the victory was another positive result in their debut season as Team Pyga Euro Steel. “It’s great to win today,” said Beukes. “It’s my first time here, so to walk away with the title is very rewarding.” The final day’s racing got off to a slower start than the previous two days, with the speed only ramping up at the famous Spionkop climb. It was here that Buys and Beukes accelerated, with Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) in close attendance. The four eventually crossed the line together. “Phil and I have worked hard this year,” said Beukes. “We’ve planned well, prepared well and obviously had our fair share of luck. The win is a good reward for the work we’ve put in. I won’t lie, though, it’s been a long year and I’m starting to get tired now.” Overall, the weekend’s riding went down a treat with the front, middle and back of the pack. “This was an amazing weekend of riding,” said Beukes. “Today was great; the final 10km stretch is incredible, but I think my favourite day was day two, single track all the way.” A satisfied Gary Green, the race organiser, was also happy with the overall race outcome. “It’s very rewarding to stand on the finish line and listen to all the positive comments,” he said. “A lot of work goes into the trails, and the local land owners are very accepting of us taking 1000 mountain bikers through their property three times in the week, so to know that everyone is enjoying themselves makes our job easier.” With the Berg & Bush Descent out the way, the race village empties out for a day, only to be filled again by riders from the Berg & Bush Great Trek. 2017 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent results day 3Men 1 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 01:51:45 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 01:51:46 3 Julian Jessop and Phil Sebona (Pyga Euro Steel 2) 01:52:21 Ladies 1 Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 02:03:54 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 02:07:21 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 02:09:42 2017 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent Final GC Men 1 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 06:27:28 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 06:32:40 3 Andrew Hill and Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kavuki Breeders TIB Insurance) 06:37:58 Ladies 1 Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 07:08:49 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 07:19:07 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 07:31:49
  7. In the ladies race, Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) consolidated their overnight lead with another stage win (2:28:07), once again getting the better of Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) in the closing kilometres of the race (2:30:11). The Pyga pair of Buys and Beukes were home first in a time of 2:08:11 on the relatively short 60km day; day one’s winners, Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) trailing them by six minutes to claim second on the day (2:14:50). Photo credit: Em Gatland With a slim overnight lead going into day two, Bell and Combrinck now have their work cut out for them after they suffered a gashed tyre 40km into the second day of racing. Their time loss allowed Buys and Beukes to open up an overall lead of around five minutes with one day to go. “That was fun, a really great stage of mountain biking,” said Beukes. “The conditions were perfect and I think it was single track from start to finish. Of course, it helps that we won, but overall it’s definitely one of the great stages of cycling.” For most of the day’s race, it was a two-horse tussle, with Bell and Combrinck sticking with Buys and Beukes. Disaster struck for NAD Pro MTB when Combrinck slashed his tyre while attempting to overtake the Pyga team on the last big climb of the day, Mike’s Pass. At first they inserted a tube, but eventually had to wait for Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kavuki Breeders TIB Insurance) to hand over a spare wheel. The delay gave Buys and Beukes ample opportunity to open up the gap. “It was a fast start,” said Buys. “Nico and Gawie were with us from the start, but we really went out guns blazing and tried to force the pace. We just never stopped attacking; it worked out for us in the end.” In the ladies race McDougall and Sanders were dominant again, finishing the day with huge, mud-splattered smiles. “Fun, fun, fun,” was McDougall’s assessment of the stage. “The trails were brilliant and we found ourselves riding alone for large sections, which was fantastic. Our aim was always to go out and attack from the start, which we achieved. Candice and Vera were with us until the last climb, where we were able to push on and away from them.” Photo credit: Em Gatland Defending champ Lill was full of praise for the race leaders. “Amy and Sam are riding so well,” she said. “Today they were just too strong for us. We couldn’t match them for power up the last big climb and they pulled away. But we enjoyed ourselves out there. It was pure mountain biking fun. The trails are excellent and the cool weather made the riding really enjoyable.” Day two of the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent was bushveld bliss for the 1000 or so riders taking part. With conditions overcast and cool once again, the field could tackle the likes of Ox Wagon Hill, Mike’s Pass, Puffadder Pass and Nicky’s Nightmare in ideal riding conditions. The 60km day featured approximately 900m of climbing, but the hills were all short and sharp; enough to take the breath away before opening up into exhilarating single track trails. Photo credit: Em Gatland The surrounding Drakensberg mountains, red soil trails and numerous acacia trees gave the day’s riding a truly African feel, and with the Tugela River flowing freely, day 2 is a riding experience that lasts long in the memory. The two water points on the route are also staffed by enthusiastic Winterton locals, all doing their best to feed the riders more than necessary. Day three is another short day, but features the iconic climb up Spionkop, a highlight for many and a horror for some as the equally tough Lantana Climb needs to be conquered first. The final 10km of the event though is riding bliss, with flowing single track allowing riders to race home with grins almost as wide as the event’s famous Bell Run berms. Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent results day 2Men 1 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 2:08:11 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 2:14:50 3 Wessel Both and Henry Liebenberg (Absolute Motion) 2:14:54 Ladies 1 Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 2:28:07 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 2:30:11 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 2:33:17 Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent GC Men 1 Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 4:35:43 2 Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 4:40:54 3 Andrew Hill and Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kavuki Breeders TIB Insurance) 4:43:58 Ladies 1 Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 5:04:55 2 Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 5:11:46 3 Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 5:22:07
  8. Team Pyga Euro Steel from left to right: Julian Jessop, Phil Buys, Phillimon Sebona, Matthys Beukes and Kombo Bere. Photo credit: Hayden Brown 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 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." Photo credit: Hayden Brown Phillimon Sebona 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.” Photo credit: Hayden Brown Looking ahead 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. It is great to build momentum with sponsors and most of them have been with us for a few years, embracing our changes and growing with us. PYGA and Euro Steel have committed long term and this gives us a lot of security in an industry that is sometimes challenging. SRAM, Liqui Moly, Kalas Sportswear, Nike Vision, Cadence Nutrition, Maxxis Tyres, and Trailwolf Cycles have been with us for two years or longer and it's comforting to know that they also see the value to invest more and grow with us. Penetron, John Burnett Insurance, Ritchey, and Subaru joined us for 2017 and we are excited to see where our relationship takes us in 2018. Team Manager Ruan Lochner mentioned the importance of supportive sponsors Euro Steel is committed to partnering with people, as we see our staff, community, and country as our greatest assets. We aim to provide opportunities wherever possible to enable people to be the best they possibly can be, to inspire our company and to inspire our nation. We’ve been fortunate to have found this perfect combination with the African MTB Team, who share these values and who aim to achieve the best of their ability. It is for this reason that we willing extended our partnership with the team and welcome the new members who will benefit from the structure and stability of the Team. We look forward to a long and successful relationship with them, seeing them achieve their full capability. Colin Wilson, CEO of Euro Steel (Pty) Ltd welcomes the new riders to the team
  9. Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) cruising through singletrack with no competition in sight, at the Nissan TrailSeeker Western Cape Series Bosman. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za 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. Candice Lill (dormakaba) using her XCO background to her advantage as she skillfully navigates the singletrack decent at the Nissan TrailSeeker Western Cape Series Bosman. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za 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. Elite women's podium -from left to right- Courtney Webb, Candice Lill (dormakaba), Carmen Buchacher (Velocity Sports Lab). Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Elite men's podium -from left to right- Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) Gert Hyns (Ascendis Health). Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za 2017 Nissan TrailSeeker Series, Western Cape Round 3, Bosman Family Vineyards, Wellington Leading results: 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 3:49:55Overall 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
  10. Beukes dug deep to overcome an impressive race-long challenge from Brendon Davids (Road Cover), eventually clocking a winning time of 2 hours 55 minutes 34 seconds, which was just one second ahead of the fast-finishing Davids. Brendon Davids (Road Cover) and Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) Crossing the water bridge the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) was at the front of the race with Beukes and Davids until a mechanical delayed his progress. He eventually finished fourth, behind Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) who grabbed the final podium spot. Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro), the Series leader going into the event, finished fifth. “I think this course is bit too flat for me and Brendon is really strong on the flats. He had me in the hurt box a lot. Me, Brendon and Phil got away early but unfortunately Phil punctured and I just had to stick to Brendon’s wheel. On the flats I was bleeding to keep up,” explained a weary Beukes. “And on the last climb I thought it’s game over for me. I thought I’ll just put one last final effort in. I saw then that he was on the limit as well, which motivated me so I pinned it to the end. I got a bit tired towards the finish. I ran out of energy and Brendon almost caught me on the line,” added Beukes. In terms of taking the Series lead, Beukes remained realistic in his approach. “Obviously it’s good to take the lead in the Series. Confidence wise it’s a nice boost. I haven’t been looking at the overall Series, but rather just taking each event individually and try and do my best at each one. Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) crosses finish line a second ahead of Brendon Davids (Road Cover) after a tight final sprint at the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “Van Gaalen gave us a true mountain biker’s race and Brendon showed that he’s not lost his touch on the technical stuff. You have to be smooth on this kind of terrain in order to be fast and it was a really enjoyable route,” added Beukes. “It was a hard day out. Quite fast. The Pyga guys were attacking me left right and centre from the start. It really made for some hard racing. I lost Matthys’s wheel with about five kilometres to go. But I managed to collect myself again and started my charge towards the finish. Unfortunately, we had some run-ins with some backmarkers near the end. But ultimately the strongest guy won. Hats off to Matthys,” said Davids, who is focussing predominantly on road racing in 2017. “I was really impressed with the route. It’s my first time racing at Van Gaalen and it’s definitely one of my favourite routes. Brendon and Matthys were really strong. From 20 kays in they got a gap on me and I could never really close. It was good to finish on the podium,” said Heyns. Elite men’s podium -from left to right- Gert Hyns (Ascendis Health) Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) Brendon Davids (Road Cover). Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 2-3 September at Dullstroom in Mpumalanga. The early spring two-day event is expected to attract a large field. For more information, or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 5, Van GaalenMarathon Men: 1 Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) 2:55:34 2 Brendon Davids (Road Cover) 2:55:35 3 Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) 2:59:00 4 Philip Buys (Pyga/Eurosteel) 3:00:38 5 Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) 3:02:00 6 Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) 3:04:47 7 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) 3:05:31 8 Wessel Botha 3:12:35 9 Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling) 3:13:41 10 Ben Melt Swanepoel (Garmin Merida) 3:15:45 Half-marathon Males 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 1:40:03 2 Keagan Bontekoning 1:42:29 3 Chris du Plessis 1:43:22 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  11. Beukes (Pyga Eurosteel) eventually triumphed in a race-long duel with Round 4 winner, Brendon Davids (Road Cover) to claim the win in a time of 02:55:34. Davids was just 0.1 seconds behind with Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) rounding out the podium places. Elite Men. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “Brendon is so strong on the flats and there’s quite a lot of flat sections here. I was bleeding to keep on his wheel. On the last climb I thought it was game over for me, so I just put in one last attack and it worked out. I got a gap and just tried to hold my small lead to the end, which I only just managed to do,” said a weary Beukes, who now takes the Series lead going into Round 6. In the women’s race a tight tussle saw Neethling (dormakaba) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia) duke it out in a sprint, with Neethling just edging ahead to take the win in a time of 03:29:14. Sanders was given the same time with South African champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) taking third place in 03:30:31. De Groot still holds onto the Series lead. Elite Women. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za “I checked out the finish before the start and knew the first person into the last corner should win. So my positioning at the end was perfect for that sprint. It was a hot pace from the beginning in the women’s race today and I’m very happy to have won. It’s a really challenging route, which I love,” smiled Neethling. Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series takes place at Dullstroom, Mpumalanga on 2 and 3 September 2017. To enter, or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Leading Results Marathon Men1 Matthys Beukes 02:55:34 2 Brendon Davids 02:55:35 3 Gert Heyns 02:59:00 4 Philip Buys 03:00:38 5 Nico Bell 03:02:00 Women 1 Candice Neethling 03:29:14 2 Samantha Sanders 03:29:15 3 Robyn De Groot 03:30:31 4 Theresa Ralph 03:42:41 5 Sarah Hill 03:45:34 Half Marathon Men 1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 01:40:03 2 Keagan Bontekoning 01:42:29 3 Chris Du Plessis Du Plessis 01:43:22 Women 1 Danielle Strydom 02:00:04 2 Thana Groenewald 02:03:27 3 Frances Janse van Rensburg 02:08:50
  12. Buys is all power as he leads his PYGA Euro Steel partner Matthys Beukes up a technical climb on the final stage of the 2017 KAP sani2c from Jolivet to Scottburgh on Saturday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media The PYGA Euro Steel duo tumbled back to third midway through the 82km final stage from Jolivet Farm to Scottburgh, after crashing and then battling with chain problems in the treacherous conditions caused by the heavy cold front that gripped the region, and victory seemed almost impossible. The Beukes and Buys, and Sanders and McDougall pairings were the men's and women's winners respectively after the opening stage of the event on Thursday. After Friday's long Queen stage was neutralized, the fast final stage from Jolivet to Scottburgh – where it is normally tough to make up significant amounts of time – was the only chance for teams to overcome the deficits after Stage 1. However, the mud – the aftermath of the heavy rain which forced the neutralization of Stage 2 – created massive drive-train issues for all riders and meant the race became a dramatic case of stop, repair and chase back for all the leading contenders. NAD Pro's Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell, who started the day in second overall, were quickly out of contention when their muddied chains choked their hopes early in the stage. They eventually took fourth on the stage and fourth overall, just ahead of TIB Insurance's Andrew Hill and Julian Jessop. Fourth after the only racing day before Saturday, Matthew Beers and Tim Hammond (Ryder RED E Spot Africa) seemed to have dodged most of the early drama and even looked to have the final stage under control as they built a solid lead midway through their journey to Scottburgh. At one point they were timed at over two minutes ahead of Team BCX, and three ahead of the PYGA duo – advantages which effectively gave them the race lead. Team dormakaba's Vera Adrian (left) and Candice Lill are muddied but happy after winning the final stage of the 2017 KAP sani2c from Jolivet to Scottburgh on Saturday and taking the overall win. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger from Team BCX, just 53 seconds behind PYGA at the start of Stage 3, were thus in second position on the road, but when Kruger hit a rock at a river crossing and punctured, they were thrown out of contention for the win. The two former road riders managed to repair and finish third on the stage and third overall. But up front Buys, who also crashed heavily and later said he "was in pain", and Beukes fought back bravely and had all but caught the early leaders when Hammond suffered from chain suck. As Hammond stopped to clear his drive train, Buys and Beukes gratefully swept past and incredibly were able to take the stage win, and with it an overall victory by just over two minutes. "I don't know how we got back to win," said an incredulous Buys after crossing the line. Hammond and Beers remounted and sped to the finish to claim second on the stage and second overall. "It is great to defend the title that I won last year and we have been in great form this year, so the confidence was there for us and despite our challenges today we knew that we just needed to stay calm and we could win," said a muddied Beukes after the finish. "To have another sani2c title is great and I am glad that Phil and I could pull off the victory." Buys was a bit more descriptive of their dramas out on the route: "We had some serious problems today but that was going to happen if you looked at the nature of the stage. ";My chain slipped a couple of times and then I had a fall in a donga which set us back a bit. "It was far from the perfect day of mountain biking but its really satisfying that we can win in these conditions," he added. In the women's race, Lill and Adrian fought a rabbit-and-hare dice from soon after the start as they steadily built a lead over Sanders and McDougall. Midway through the stage they had enough of a lead on the stage to be leading on the road, however, just when it looked as if they had victory sorted, the Valencia pairing began to eat into their lead again – only for more mechanical problems to finally scupper their hopes. Riders carve their way through a cane field during the final stage of the 2017 KAP sani2c from Jolivet to Scottburgh Beach on Saturday. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media Eventually the dormakaba pair reached the finish four minutes ahead which was enough for a deceptively large three-minute win. "Candice and I have become such a good combination because we are both technically really good and we compliment each other," said Adrian. "We were strong today and rode really well together in some really tough conditions. It was great to win this year but it was a really tough day for the Valencia Ladies and you never want to see others have problems like that. "We were looking forward to the second stage but it was definitely the right decision to cancel to drop in the Umko and we knew we had to work really hard today." Defeat was tough to accept for Mcdougall, who is normally one of the most consistent and toughest riders in the women's races. "I had so many problems today, I am usually really good and enjoy the mud but today just wasn't my day," the dejected runner up said after the finish. "It cost us a lot of time today but that is mountain biking and I still really enjoyed riding with Sam (Sanders) and the whole race." 2016 Olympian James Reid made a quick foray away from his studies at UCT to compete for the first time in 2017 and with South African Triathlete Mari Rabie was a convincing winner in the mixed category, finishing 11 minutes ahead of Sanet and Dana Coetzee. Provisional Results (with stage time and overall time) 1.PYGA Euro Steel (Philip Buys/Matthys Beukes) 2:50:08, 5:38:04 2.Ryder RED E Spot Africa (Matthew Beers/Tim Hammond) 2:50:17, 5:40:12 3.Team BCX (Waylon Woolcock/HB Kruger) 2:54:37, 5:43:26 4.NAD Pro MTB (Gawie Combrinck/Nico Bell) 2:56:39, 5:45:19 5.Team TIB (Andrew Hill/Julian Jessop) 0 2:56:45, 5:48:28 6.William Simpson (Derrin Smith/Michael Posthumus) 0 3:05:07, 6:04:32 7.Ballito Bicycling Company (Pieter Seyffert/Andrew Johnson) 0 3:07:35, 6:04:39 8.Home Ice Cream (Matthew Stamatis/Thomas Jessop) 0 3:06:22, 6:05:20 9.Urban Fitness Outdoor (Jonathan Cloete/Nicholas Porteous) 0 3:20:51, 6:20:39 10 Time Freight eTeam (James Burne/Aiden Nugent) 3:13:57, 6:22:26Women 1.dormakaba (Candice Lill/Vera Adrian) 3:09:45, 6:18:31 2.Valencia Ladies (Samantha Sanders/Amy Mcdougall) 3:13:42, 6:21:20 3.Team Ascendis Health (Robyn de Groot/Mariska Strauss) 3:19:08, 6:37:18 Mixed Team 1.Private Client Holdings (James Reid/Mari Rabie) 3:23:47, 6:37:53 2.Omnico Team (Sanet Coetzee/Dana Coetzee) 3:27:26, 6:48:19 For more information on KAPsani2c: Info@KAPsani2c.co.za or www.sani2c.co.za
  13. The PYGA Euro Steel pair of Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes were too strong for the rest of the field after the opening stage of the Race at the 2017 KAP sani2c from Glencairn in Himeville to Mackenzie Club just outside Ixopo. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media The PYGA Euro Steel duo, who were the form pairing going into the 2017 showpiece event, showed their mettle and strength to shrug off the chasing combinations and open up a handy 44-second lead going into the notoriously tough second stage on Friday. "Our plan was to put the hammer down after the final water point up that little kicker," Philip Buys mentioned after their stage win. "We then got a slight gap going into the trails and then we just put our heads down all the way to the finish. "Racing always hurts but we are happy to take the win today." Buys and Beukes' pedigree and current form will be worrying for the chasing teams but with some tough racing ahead of them the duo feel that the other teams are under the pump chasing them to the coast. "We don't really feel pressure," Beukes said. "The other guys have got the work to do to try and close the gap to us and we made sure that we didn't push too hard today, so we have a lot in the tank. "We know that tomorrow is going to be tough and we took it easy for the first 60km today and then threw one punch on Bowman's climb and then consolidated from there on." The men's race was not devoid of drama as the NAD Pro MTB team of Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck came unstuck when the latter took a tumble which cost them valuable time and the opportunity to claim a stage victory. NAD Pro MTB's Gawie Combrinck took a nasty tumble towards the end of the day which meant him and partner Nico Bell finished in second place overall after the opening stage of the Race at the 2017 KAP sani2c from Glencairn in Himeville to Mackenzie Club just outside Ixopo. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media "The PYGA guys picked up the pace after the second water point and we were able to keep up with them. "The fall for Gawie obviously didn't come at the right time for us and we were hurting a bit towards the end. "Hopefully the damage to Gawie is nothing too serious ahead of another massive day tomorrow! "The rain and the weather is going to be a factor tomorrow but there is just as much luck involved and we are hoping that the luck can go our way from tomorrow," Bell added. The Team BCX pair of Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger came home in third overall, just a few seconds behind the NAP Pro pair. They are in turn are about a minute ahead of the Ryder RED E Spot Africa duo of Matthew Beers and Tim Hammond while the Durban-based Team TIB combination of Andrew Hill and Julian Jessop ended fifth. The women’s race was full of excitement as pre-race favourites, Team Ascendis Health's Robyn de Groot and Mariska Strauss, struggled with punctures which put the brakes on their push for a stage win. The laid-back Valencia Ladies pair of Samantha Sanders and Amy-Beth Mcdougall were motivated to put the rest of the women's field to the sword once they managed to get ahead of the chasing pairs. In what was the ride of the day, Valencia Lady's duo of Sam Sanders (left) and Amy Mcdougall (right) surprised everyone to take the stage win in the ladies race at the opening stage of the Race at the 2017 KAP sani2c from Glencairn in Himeville to Mackenzie Club just outside Ixopo. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media "It is nice to be underestimated," Sanders said at Mackenzie Club. "We didn't have any pressure on us coming into the race so we could just go out there and enjoy ourselves. "The track today really suited Amy and I in the sense that we are both technically very fast on the trails. "I don't know what happened to Robyn and Mariske, but I am glad that we were able to get away from them and win the stage." On what was a day to forget for Team Ascendis Health's Mariska Strauss (front) and Robyn de Groot, the pre-race favourites had to settle for third place in the ladies race after the opening stage of the Race at the 2017 KAP sani2c from Glencairn in Himeville to Mackenzie Club just outside Ixopo. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media The second stage of the sani2c on Friday has the potential to be an epic encounter, however the weather is going to be a defining factor as the riders aim for Jolivet. "We are just going to take each day as it comes and we don't really feel too much pressure," Mcdougall commented. "It is nice to have a bit of a buffer, but we are just going to take it as it comes because the other girls will be chasing hard." The defending champions, the dormakaba team of Candice Lill (neé Neethling) and Vera Adrian, are just over a minute behind the Valencia pair and in a good position to pounce on the testing second stage. Dormakaba hold a nine minute advantage over the third placed Team Ascendis Health pair meaning that they can focus their energy on catching the leading ladies rather than fighting off the team in third place. 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympian James Reid and Mari Rabie (Private Client Holdings) hold the cards in the mixed category with a minute advantage over Bluff Meat Supplies' Trevor Rowe and Robyn Price, with Omnico Team's Sanet and Dana Coetzee third. The Private Client Holdings duo of Mari Rabie and James Reid took the spoils in the mixed category at the opening stage of the Race at the 2017 KAP sani2c from Glencairn in Himeville to Mackenzie Club just outside Ixopo. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media The second stage takes riders from the overnight stop at Mackenzie Club to Jolivet. The stage takes riders down into the Umkomaas valley and then out via the new Iconic Climb. The 96km stage is known as the toughest of the race and with some inclement weather predicted it will be a tough task for all. For more information on KAPsani2c: Info@KAPsani2c.co.za or www.sani2c.co.za SUMMARY OF RESULTS - KAP sani2c 2017 (Stage One: Glencairn to Mackenzie Club)Overall 1.PYGA Euro Steel (Philip Buys/Matthys Beukes) 02:47.56 2.NAD Pro MTB (Gawie Combrinck/Nico Bell) 02:48.40 3.Team BCX (Waylon Woolcock/HB Kruger) 02:48.49 4.Ryder RED E Spot Africa (Matthew Beers/Tim Hammond) 02:49.55 5.Team TIB (Andrew Hill/Julian Jessop) 02:51.43 6.Ballito Bicycling Company (Pieter Seyffert/Andrew Johnson) 02:57.04 7.Home Ice Cream (Matthew Stamatis/Thomas Jessop) 02:58.58 8.William Simpson (Derrin Smith/Michael Posthumus) 02:59.25 9.Urban Fitness Outdoor (Jonathan Cloete/Nicholas Porteous) 02:59.48 10.think 360 (Leeroy Emslie/Jason Davies) 03:00.26 11.KAPRestonic 13 (Craig Uria/Andrew Duvenhage) 03:00.31 12.Bells Cycling (Declan Sidey/JP Jung) 03:02.38 13.Business Print (Andrew Cairns/Fanie Venter) 03:05.28 14.Revolution Cycles (Brenan Anderson/David Cooke) 03:07.00 15.Lge Midas/Slender Wonder (Igna de Villiers/Paul Theron) 03:07.10 Women 1.Valencia Ladies (Samantha Sanders/Amy Mcdougall) 03:07.38 2.dormakaba (Candice Lill/Vera Adrian) 03:08.46 3.Team Ascendis Health (Robyn de Groot/Mariska Strauss) 03:18.10 4.Galileo Risk Velocity (Carmen Buchacher/Theresa Ralph) 03:20.20 5.KAP Safipol 1 (Anli Smith/Tamaryn Kietzmann) 03:55.32 Mixed Team 1.Private Client Holdings (James Reid/Mari Rabie) 03:14.06 2.Bluff Meat Supplies (Trevor Rowe/Robyn Price) 03:15.13 3.Omnico Team (Sanet Coetzee/Dana Coetzee) 03:20.53 4.Cycle Nation-Bring it On (Tijl van de Winkel/Joanna van de Winkel) 03:26.39 5.Bell Equipment (Darryn Purtell/Hayley Smith) 03:31.10
  14. South African MTB stars Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes sailed over the line to win day 8 of the Old Mutual joBerg2c, and claimed the event outright for the recently formed PYGA Euro Steel team. In their first joBerg2c - the race across South Africa that shows you the best the country has to offer in terms of scenery and heart - Buys and Beukes were dominant from day 4 of the nine-day ride, winning the final five days. Their winning machinery was proudly PYGA, and proudly South African. The team’s day 8 time was 3:32:11, with an overall race time of 29:51:02. Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) finished day 8 in third and finished the event second overall with a total time of 30:11:40. In the Lanham-Love Mixed Category Darren and Candice Lill (dormakaba) enjoyed an utterly dominant joBerg2c, and ruled their category from start to finish. They finished day 8 with a time of 3:59:05 and an overall time of 32:16:43. Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (Lanham-Love Valencia) finished seconds after dormakaba on day 8, with a stage time of 4:00:36 and an overall time of 32:40:06. The nine-day joBerg2c has slightly tweaked its format for 2017, with the last day of riding - the ninth day - now a neutral stage called the Old Mutual Wealth (Champagne) Stage. That means the winning results are provisional until all riders have completed the final day’s 80km ride from Jolivet to Scottburgh. The provisional winners shouldn’t have too many worries going into the final day, though, as they have around eight hours to complete the short, mostly downhill stage. "It's been another fantastic nine days at the Old Mutual joBerg2c," said Karen Thomas, Old Mutual Head of Brand. "Every year the race villages get better, providing riders with everything and anything they could desire. The riders have said the route has been incredible too, so it's no surprise that this event continues to go from strength to strength. As a sponsor, we are thrilled to be involved in an endurance event that not only tests participants, but also shows them the beauty of the South African countryside. Well done to the winners, and well done to every rider that completes this one-of-a-kind mountain biking experience. We look forward to seeing you again in 2018!" Proudly South African victory Relieved and clearly elated, Matthys Beukes was happy to finish on top again today and without any major mechanicals over the last eight days. Photo credit: Em Gatland. “Today we made it count. We’ve waited the whole week for this day and if there is one day you can really race it’s this stage. There was some nice big climbing but first we just enjoyed the descent into the Umkomaas Valley and then we just hit that climb and pulled the gap from there and rode steadily,” said Beukes. He added that the unique aspect of crossing so much of the country during the joBerg2c was a definite event highlight. “My favourite aspect has definitely been the journey. First of all we came here to enjoy the ride and just experience something different and not just focus on super intense racing. I think we definitely got that out of joBerg2c; there is also some good prize money for first place and that’s really nice too.” Philip Buys explained that the win was a bonus on top of an incredible experience. “I think the whole track down here is just great. What’s nice about joBerg2c is that you see parts of the country that you don’t usually see. Being on a bike we took some time to see everything that there is to see on the route. I think it’s a cool race to see and experience our country and its hospitality. It was a fun experience for us.” The perfect mix Husband and wife team Candice and Darren Lill finished joBerg2c looking relaxed and happy. Competing as a couple, and winning as one too, has made joBerg2c a particularly special experience for them.“I count myself as very fortunate and blessed to be able to do something like this with Candice, I don’t think there are many people that can do anything competitively with their spouse and make it work well together under pressure,” said Darren Lill. “It is really special to be able to enjoy such a wonderful experience together - win or lose, but obviously it’s nice to win. Either way we were out here having a great time together giving our best each day.” Candice Lill was pleased with the pair’s dominant ride at the event. “Finishing joBerg2c undefeated does feel quite good. I mean, what fun we had… and such different stages. Even today, the changes made to the route were quite tough. I wasn’t expecting the new climbs to be so steep. Luckily we had a nice lead going into this stage and managed to keep it and we still had fun at the same time,” said Candice. Candice Lill added that there are many great aspects to joBerg2c, with some standing out to make the nine days truly memorable. “For me, my favourite part is the journey - the whole experience going through all the different towns and seeing how much it all changes, like going through the Free State and seeing all the towns and onto KwaZulu-Natal. It’s a magical all round experience.” The race organisers were thrilled with the 2017 event. Glen Haw noted that the joBerg2c is as tough as it is unique. "This event really showcases how special the country is, and takes people to some really unique places," said Haw. "But joBerg2c is not easy," he added. People think that because of the relaxed nature of the event, there is the misconception that it’s a tour - if you look at it and compare it on paper, I think this event is as hard as something as the Cape Epic. It's a challenge, but very rewarding." Craig Wapnick, meanwhile, added the joBerg2c attracts the right type of mountain biker, specifically, those that know how to enjoy themselves on and off the bike. "We are always trying to make it better," said Wapnick. "It’s a work in progress every year. But without great riders, you can’t have a great event. I think we are at a stage where we are attracting the right kind of rider; the people who like a challenge, who are fit enough to enjoy the 900km off-road mountain biking challenge, but who also want to sit around in the evenings and enjoy good beer and gees." The third of the energetic and enthusiastic joBerg2c organising team, Gary Green, said, "What we try to offer riders is a few great events all rolled into nine incredible days. Judging by the smiles I've seen after eight days of tough riding, it looks like we've achieved that and more in 2017." Entries for the 2018 Old Mutual joBerg2c will open in May. You can find the Old Mutual Joberg2c results here.
  15. The chasing pair of Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB) crossed the line battered and bruised in 3:01:47. In the Lanham-Love Mixed Category, it was a familiar story with dormakaba teammates Darren and Candice Lill finishing first, shortly followed by Lanham-Love Valencia riders Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall. Their times were 3:15:21 and 3:16:04 respectively. Stage winners and race leaders Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys (PYGA Euro Steel) arrive at Mackenzie Club on the penultimate race day. Credit: JoBerg2c. At the start of the day, riders asked for their eggs Sani side up in the picturesque Glencairn Farm setting on Sani Pass Road, with many sorry to leave the exquisite race village setting. But leave they did, and they were glad for it because day 7 of the joBerg2c is a mountain biker’s delight. Among those thankful for the shorter and more technical stage was Candice Lill, who enjoyed yet another strong day at the office despite tapping off the pace in preparation for tomorrow’s day 8. “It was a fun day with a lot of single track which we rode at quite a pace. Everybody thought it was going to be easy being shorter and flatter, which isn’t necessarily the case. So you still have to prepare yourself to go quite hard!” said Lill. For some added thrill, riders cross roughly 70 metres of floating PG Bison Bridge across Mossbank Dam. Credit: Em Gatland. Lanham-Love Valencia’s Grant Usher enjoyed yet another spectacular day on the bike, saying he and partner Amy Beth McDougall pushed hard but also had fun. “We had so much fun on the single track. Amy rode well and we fought really hard, but Candice and Darren have been doing a good job at putting pressure on us, especially at some of the climbs, just cracking us slowly,” said Usher. McDougall said she is feeling the strain in her legs, but is excited for the final official day of racing tomorrow. “Today we just tried to keep up with Darren and Candice. They’re really strong, especially Candice, she is just going so well. It’s really impressive to see how they’re riding, but every day we just gotta keep fighting.” NAD Pro MTB fall short of stage win In the men’s race, NAD Pro MTB rider Gawie Combrinck crashed shortly after the 63km mark. He finished with injuries to his upper-right thigh and forearm.“Just before the second water point on the big open road, I was behind Phil and my front wheel just got caught in a rut and I came off my bike. It was nice of the PYGA guys because they waited for me to get back on the bike,” said Combrinck. A battered and bruised Gawie Combrinck arrives with his chin up in Mackenzie Club on day 7. Credit: JoBerg2c. As for tomorrow being the final day to cut into PYGA Euro Steel’s massive lead, Combrinck said the task won’t be easy. He said, “Ag tomorrow we will just see how it goes and wing it.” PYGA Euro Steel’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes are clearly relaxed going into the final official racing day with a 13-minute lead. “I thought Gawie was hurt quite badly but he looks like he is all fine now. We waited for them and checked to see if they were okay but they said we should keep on going. It was a good day with some nice racing for a bit. Between the four of us we threw some punches in the racing today, which was fun. I think it was at about the second last climb that I got a small gap and just rode on nicely to the end,” said Beukes. One of joBerg2c's finest runs himself into Mackenzie Club race village after his bike suffered a mechanical failure. Credit: Em Gatland. Philip Buys, renowned for his strong technical skills on the bike, said, “We made the most of the technical sections. There was lot of sweeping smooth corners among the single track. It was great fun, like riding on a roller coaster. We just stuck with NAD Pro MTB, and when they went a little harder we just stuck with them and they couldn’t really shake us. It’s nice to have that buffer going into the final racing day tomorrow.” With Saturday’s day 9 a neutral cruise to the coast, day 8 is the last day to jockey for position at the joBerg2c. Riders will tackle a 98km route that includes a joy-riding descent into the Umkomaas Valley – but then they’ll also have to climb out of it before reaching the penultimate race village at Jolivet in Highflats. A long, tough day awaits. British Army Team Four rider battles against the plight of a tough hill on joBerg2c. Credit: Em Gatland. You can find the Old Mutual Joberg2c results here.
  16. Early into the 120km day from Em’seni in Winterton to Clifton Preparatory School in Nottingham Road, NAD Pro MTB experienced a flat, and then again later in the day shortly after water point three. PYGA Euro Steel's Philip Buys feeling the burn shortly before water point three.PYGA Euro Steel finished the day with a time of 4:15:50 while NAD Pro MTB came in third, 14 minutes after the winners with a time of 4:29:50. Road Cover riders Brendon Davids and Willie Smit finished second at 4:21:29. No mixing and matching Dormakaba’s Darren and Candice Lill continues to lead the Lanham-Love Mixed Category, stopping the clock on day 5 at 4:48:22, with Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall (Lanham-Love Valencia) finishing second on the day in a time of 4:51:31.Dormakaba’s leading lady, Candice Lill said it was a positive day, before adding, “Wow, it was actually quite cold today, and this was the only stage that I had chosen not to wear arm warmers. Although, there was enough climbing to keep us warm. “We paced ourselves well and didn’t spend too much energy in the beginning - we knew all the big climbs were going to be at end and I can climb well, so I just rode my pace and kept it together.” Darren, her teammate and husband saw nothing wrong with the day apart from some tired legs. “I’m a bit tired but I feel pretty good actually. I’m just happy to keep the momentum going even though we took that start a bit easier today. We rode with the other two mixed teams and I’d say we stuck with Amy and Grant for the first 80km or so until the serious climbing started, and then we set our own tempo on the climbs and managed our effort from there to the line. I think our gap now must be fairly decent,” he said. Old Mutual JoBerg2c Day 5 Highlights Despite Grant Usher’s strong ride for the Lanham-Love Valencia team, he confessed that the last few kilometres took it out of the duo and that the finish line was very welcome. “It was nice and cool out there. But sheesh, the bagpiper coming up the last climb and bit of single track - it really makes you forget about all the toiling early on! “It was a good day though and we rode in a nice group chilling a little bit and then Candice and Darren put the gas on with Nic White. They got a gap on us and despite our efforts of holding them, we just thought it wasn’t worth trying to chase back so we just consolidated again and enjoyed the day. “On the other hand we were super strong, we rode away from the other men’s teams - it’s insane I think we’re probably still top ten,” added Usher. Luck deserts NAD Pro MTB Over the first few days of the joBerg2c, PYGA Euro Steel have said they would wait patiently for an opportunity like lions on hunt. And hunting was good today in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.Though friendly with other top teams, Buys’ hunger for a win is more evident than ever. “We wanted to take it easy today, but then things changed. We had seen Nico and Gawie stop and we thought they were having a toilet break or something so we just rode easy and sort of waited for them, but they didn’t come back. Then, we upped the pace and started going faster and rode a bit with the Road Cover guys until they dropped off. We got quite a lead on them,” said Buys. Nico Bell follows Gawie Combrinck for NAD Pro MTB shortly before water point 3. One puncture done, one puncture to go. He praised the great effort of his teammate saying, “Matthys did well today, but I struggled a bit. Mentally I’ve just been a little tired and in my head I was prepared for an easy day but then it turned out to be tiring. I didn’t have a good recovery day yesterday and I bonked a bit on the last 10 kilometres and I suffered a little bit. From here on we are just going to try and look after the bikes. We don’t want to get any mechanicals” NAD Pro MTB’s poor luck today gave Road Cover a chance to cover some road, giving them the jump on Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell for the day. Brendon Davids said although they improved their time, it was a difficult day. “Willie (Smit) had some issues. We got away with the PYGA guys and put the pressure on after Nico and Gawie got a flat. And then shortly after Willie’s cleat came loose so we had to stop at water point one to fix it, but it kept coming loose most of the way to the finish.” However, it wan’t enough to slow Road Cover down too much, as they move into second overall behind PYGA Euro Steel, with NAD Pro MTB dropping from first to third. Road cover rider Willie Smit shortly before water point three for a quick fix of his cleat. Road Cover rider Brendon Davids sprung a leak at water point three. If they want to catch up on day 6, they’ll have to work hard on the 98km stage from Nottingham Road to Glencairn Farm in Underberg. It’s a day that includes lots of climbing once again, including a particularly nasty bump named Gumtree Climb, because halfway up you’ll want to sell your bike on the classifieds website. Find the full results from Old Mutual JoBerg2c Day 5 here.
  17. Last year Beukes won the sani2c with Gert Heyns despite an injury which kept him off the bike and away from training for much of the build-up. This year Beukes is partnering Philip Buys as the Pyga Euro Steel team and they are clear favourites after dominating the local competition in recent events. The Team PYGA PYGA Euro Steel duo of Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys are in brilliant form and will go into the 2017 KAP sani2c with the favourites tag hanging over their heads, a tag that they are not too phased by, when the race gets underway from 11-13 May. Graham Daniel/ Gameplan Media Their most notable effort was a clear win in the African category at the Absa Cape Epic where they finished seventh overall against the strongest field ever assembled for the famous stage race. Then last weekend Beukes proved he has already fully recovered from the Epic when he cruised to a solid victory in Round 3 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Clarens. And, to make sure nobody can deny the Pyga Euro Steel team’s tag as outright favourites, Buys was third behind HB Kruger (Team BCX). “Phil and I are in a very good place at the moment with our riding,” said Beukes this week. “I think we are possibly the favourites for the sani2c, but I don’t think that means there is any pressure on us, in fact I believe it means the pressure is on the other teams! “But, as we all know, in mountain biking anything can happen. Anybody can have a mechanical or some other problem and then it is the end of their chances. “Last year at sani I was injured and was only able to train properly for about two months before the race. This year we are going into the race in the best shape of our lives. “We are both in good form after the Epic and I think that is because both Phil and I trained super hard for the Epic and we were super strong for that. “Obviously when you target a race like that you peak at that event, but I don’t think you lose fitness that quickly and we have both come out of the Epic well – four days after the finish we were able to start interval training again. “We went into the Epic after coming fifth in 2015 so we wanted to try and do better than that and were aiming to get on the podium. But the Epic is now on a different level, so walking away we have to be happy with how things went.” Beukes and Buys have a heavy schedule before they line up for the three-day dash from Himeville to Scottburgh on May 11. They both raced at the CSA Series event in Pretoria this past weekend, and then head to Johannesburg for the nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c, which also cover the final three days of the Sani2C route. “We are really looking forward to the sani2c, it really is one of the must-do events on the calendar. “Last year was the first time I have done it with the descent down into the Umkomaas Valley – and that descent is really something else - it is spectacular. It is almost emotional when you get down to the bottom. “The route for the race is super fast so we have to change our tyre choices and because it is so smooth as well we almost have to use semi-slick tyres. “The super-fast race suits the road guys. We would prefer the route to be a bit more rough and a bit slower which would suit us more, but the way it is prepared means the race is almost like a road race, but that also makes things quite exciting.” This year is the twelfth edition of the KAP sani2c, the world’s largest mountain bike stage race, which takes place from Himeville to Scottburgh during the second week of May. There are three races which form the event. On May 9, the Trail riders set off from Himeville for MacKenzie Farm near Ixopo. Then on the next day, while they are heading for Jolivet Farm in Highflats, the Adventure riders take on stage one. As the Trail riders dash to Scottburgh on May 11, the serious Race riders set off on their three-day journey from Himeville. For more information on KAPsani2c: Info@KAPsani2c.co.za or www.sani2c.co.za.
  18. Matthys Beukes emerged victorious at Round 3 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Clarens in the Eastern Free State at the weekend, winning the men’s marathon stage race title in emphatic fashion. Click here to view the article
  19. HB Kruger (Team BCX) makes his way up a section of slick rock during stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Second overall was HB Kruger of Team BCX with Beukes’s Pyga Eurosteel teammate, Philip Buys taking third place after another exciting weekend of racing the new two-day format. For Beukes, the overall victory was incredibly sweet and confirmed his return to peak form after having spent three months recovering from a serious crash that damaged his hand, his shoulder and his foot. It was also his first ever overall win at an Ashburton Investments National MTB Series event. Philip Buys and teammate Matthys Beukes bump fists in victory as they celebrate their team win of the second stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za On Saturday, Beukes and Kruger went on the attack before halfway through the 69km stage and managed to hold their lead to the finish. In the final kilometre Beukes managed to pull clear of Kruger and claimed the stage win in a time of 02 hours 29 minutes and 16 seconds. Kruger rolled home second seven seconds later with Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) taking third place another minute back. The next seven finishers were all home within the next minute, confirming the tight racing on a day when the winning average speed was a very rapid 27.7kph! Day 2’s 54km route was shorter, but included more singletrack and a tough climb and rough descent near the finish. Beukes and Buys set a fast pace from the start and split the A group up considerably before halfway. On the big climb late in the stage, only series leader, Max Knox, was able to stay with the Pyga Eurosteel duo. On the rough, loose descent to the finish Knox was stung by a bee, which caused him to take a tumble, leaving him to limp to the end with a bent rear derailleur. Beukes and Buys charged ahead to secure first and second on the stage, with Buys crossing just a head of Beukes in a time of 2:02:02. HB Kruger (Team BCX) comfortably crosses the finish line in second place of the first stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Bell caught and passed Knox in the final 100 metres to secure third place on the stage a minute and a half after Buys and Beukes had rolled home. Kruger managed to grab fifth place 1:44 behind Buys. He’d done enough to be able to hold onto his second place overall behind the elated Beukes. “The plan for today (Day 2) was for me to look after Matthys to defend his lead. If we could try and get the minute and half that I was down yesterday, we’d try, but the priority was getting Matthys to the finish safely and fast,” said Buys afterwards. “It’s great to finally win. I have been second and third before at National MTB Series events, but this is my first win. It’s a good weekend for me,” said Beukes. “On the last big climb we pushed the pace hard. Max (Knox) stayed with us but on the descent Philip went to the front and just pushed the limits. I followed his wheel and we managed to get away and rolled into the finish. It’s our first win in the new team colours, which is great for our sponsors and supporters too,” smiled Beukes. “It was an aggressive race from the gun. Matthys went quite early on the attack and was on his own for a bit. I rode across to him on quite a gnarly section. The guys behind must have lagged for a bit as we got a gap quite quickly. Matthys was really strong and he opened up a gap on me on the last bit of singletrack. He was a well deserved winner,” said Kruger after Stage 1. Max Knox (New Holland/This Way Out) navigates the featured singletrack of the Titanic Trail on Stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za With both stage times combined, Beukes’s winning time was 4:31:19, 1:50 ahead of runner-up Kruger with Buys’s strong second stage putting him in third place in a time of 4:33:27. Bell ended up in fourth place with Knox fifth. Knox retains the overall series lead after three rounds. Round 4 of the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series is another two-day race format on 10 and 11 June at Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg. To enter or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) leads Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) and Arno du Toit (LCB Racing) over a slick rock section during stage 1 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Clarens. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 Round 3, Clarens Marathon Men Stage 1: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:29:16 2 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 2:29:23 3 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:30:30 4 Konny Looser (SUI) BIXS 2:30:50 5 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) Team BCX 2:30:50 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 2:30:54 7 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 2:31:05 8 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:31:25 9 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 2:31:31 10 Willie Smit (RSA) Road Cover 2:31:40Men Stage 2: 1 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:02:02 2 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 2:02:03 3 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 2:03:35 4 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 2:03:40 5 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 2:03:46 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 2:03:55 7 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 2:04:47 8 Gert Heyns (RSA) Ascendis Health 2:05:57 9 Timothy Hammond (RSA) 2:06:07 10 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 2:06:10 Men combined final positions: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:31:19 2 HB Kruger (RSA) Team BCX 4:33:09 3 Philip Buys (RSA) Pyga Eurosteel 4:33:27 4 Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD Pro 4:34:05 5 Max Knox (RSA) New Holland/This Way Out 4:34:45 6 Travis Walker (RSA) Ellsworth 4:34:49 7 Brendon Davids (RSA) Road Cover 4:36:18 8 Timothy Hammond (RSA) 4:37:47 9 Konny Looser (SUI) BIXS 4:38:00 10 Arno du Toit (RSA) LCB Racing 4:38:27 Half-marathon Males combined – final positions 1 Pieter du Toit 2:29:25 2 Brendan van Eeden 2:37:28 3 Marc Oliver Pritzen 2:38:15 For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org
  20. Philip Buys of PYGA Euro Steel leads the bunch during the final stage (stage 7) of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin to Val de Vie in Paarl. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS By doing so they also claimed the Absa African special jersey - for the first team in which both riders are from the continent - thanks to a strong overall performance, finishing seventh in the general classification. Beukes was pleased at the race finish. Even without a stage win, this year’s Absa Cape Epic was educational for PYGA Euro Steel. He said the team is hungry for success in 2018 at the Absa Cape Epic, hinting that a challenge for an overall win could be on. “We obviously didn't get what we set out to get, but we definitely matured a lot and rode smartly. I think this week was incredibly tough. It’s the most I have ever learned at a Absa Cape Epic so there are a lot of good things to take home.” The 2017 edition presented numerous mechanical challenges for the Absa African special jersey winners. Their ride was plagued by punctures, but Beukes said this didn’t cost them an elusive stage win. “This year we had a couple of issues, but we handled them quickly and calmly. The level of the Absa Cape Epic is becoming more intense every year. A couple of year’s ago we set out to win a stage and won it comfortably. This year, there was no chance of that, you really had to put your head down.” Of the experience, Beukes was all smiles. “We had a good time. We always enjoy riding, whether it's well or not so well, we just try and have a good time.” Buys was also in good spirits after finishing the Absa Cape Epic seventh overall. “It was a great Absa Cape Epic! It’s a pity we missed out on a stage win, but we really put everything out there today and we are really happy with the red jersey. We learned a lot this Epic, so I'm sure we will come back smarter.” As for the immediate future, he said, “Firstly we want some time off - maybe a week or two. The Absa Cape Epic is actually the first event of our local season and we have a bunch of races up until August and then another short break.” The front bunch during the final stage (stage 7) of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Although they were never quite close enough to contend for the Absa African special jersey, Nico Bell of NAD Pro MTB was pleased to cross the line in good time. “It’s good racing - the competition was great this year, it seems like it is always picking up. We are glad to get to the finish today without any issues during the race. “It’s a tough race. You're either strong or you're not. A lot of guys get ill, crash or break something. A lot counts on this race.” Bell and Combrinck have much to look forward to for the rest of 2017. “Throughout the year we will be doing many South African races. We race throughout the year, but this was a key race,” said Bell. Not happy but not unhappy either, Combrinck has higher hopes for next year’s Absa Cape Epic. “It turned out okay. We didn’t come here to finish where ended up. But the riding and racing was fun. This final stage was still sandy and dusty but thankfully quite cool.” 2017 Stage 7 Absa AfricanStage Results 1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 2:59.15,8 2. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 3:03.08,3 +3.52,5 3. Breedenet 549-1 Charl-Pierre Esterhuyse (South Africa) 549-2 CP van Wyk (South Africa) 3:03.37,7 +4.21,9 Overall Results 1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 27:36.12,8 2. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 28:05.11,6 +28.58,8 3. The Gear Change 141-1 Justin Tuck (South Africa) 141-2 David George (South Africa) 29:16.33,7 +1:40.20,9 4. SPOT Africa-Agrichem 39-1 Timothy Hammond (South Africa) 39-2 Dominic Calitz (South Africa) 29:43.20,5 +2:07.07,7 5. BCX 10-1 Hendrik Kruger (South Africa) 10-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 29:49.03,9 +2:12.51,1 6. Imbuko Freewheel Cycology 23-1 Christopher Wolhuter (South Africa) 23-2 Dylan Rebello (South Africa) 30:00.10,2 +2:23.57,4 7. NFB - Spine & Sport 27-1 Craig Uria (South Africa) 27-2 Andrew Duvenage (South Africa) 30:58.37,6 +3:22.24,8 8. William Simpson 33-1 Michael Posthumus (South Africa) 33-2 Derrin Smith (South Africa) 31:21.20,3 +3:45.07,5 9. LGE Midas/Slender-Wonder 330-1 Igna de Villiers (South Africa) 330-2 Paul Theron (South Africa) 32:07.34,8 +4:31.22,0 10. Provincial Logistics 335-1 Franso Steyn (South Africa) 335-2 Jandri Ferreira (South Africa) 32:20.02,8 +4:43.50,0
  21. Enjoying the conditions were Diepsloot MTB Academy riders William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona, who keep the Exxaro special jersey for yet another day (they finished the day in a time of 5:22.28,4). William Mokgopo after stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin, South Africa on the 25th March 2017 Phillimon Sebona after stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS In the Absa African special jersey race PYGA Euro Steel (Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes) completed a routine ride to come first in their category (4:41.24,0). NAD Pro MTB riders Gawie Combrink and Nico Bell followed with a time of 4:50.44,7.An unusually tired Mokgopo, who has been ebullient throughout the week, was happy to achieve the result, especially after falling back a handful of places in the overall standings. “At the last water point, we were about fourth in the chase for the Exxaro special jersey which was difficult because at that point it was very hot. We had to make a big comeback but good consistent riding helped us take back the top spot on the day.” Mokgopo hasn’t let exhaustion get the better of him. He and Sebona understood the penultimate stage of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic was always going to be tiring, especially with the challenge of Groenlandberg. “This stage has been one of the toughest, but we did our homework last night, checked our tyre pressures and ensured all parts of the bike were in good working order,” said Mokgopo. Sebona added, “It was difficult today. But we have been conserving energy all week so our only real big challenge was Groenlandberg. That is not to say we weren’t prepared. We know that pass very well. So we already knew that if we could just get to the top, the rest of the race would be easier.” As commanding Exxaro special jersey leaders, Diepsloot MTB Academy will relish the prize of R50 000. Mokgopo said, “If we win tomorrow, I will use the prize money to pay for my education and if there is left over after that, I will decide then!” This isn’t all the Exxaro winners can enjoy. It was announced in January that the Bakala Academy in Leuven, Belgium will host the winners for eight days, where they will undergo testing and training of the highest quality. Philip Buys of PYGA Euro Steel during stage 6 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS In the Absa African special jersey race, PYGA Euro Steel rider Philip Buys was pleased to keep the red jersey, despite a puncture. “I think the cooler conditions definitely made it a little bit easier. It was still a tough day out there. Any stage that includes Groenlandberg is a tough one. It’s not just the climb that is tough – coming down is also a challenge. But it was good riding. “I was a just off the leading bunch just before Groenlandberg but on one of the downhills I got a pinch flat. I managed to plug it and then changed the wheel at the techzone just for safety,” said Buys. NAD Pro MTB’s Gawie Combrink also enjoyed the stage. “We just tried to stay with the front bunch but we had a few issues after Groenlandberg. “It wasn’t anything major, it was just that Nico flatted and then I flatted right after. When we got everything repaired, we just rode steady on to the finish,” said Combrink. 2017 Stage 6 Absa AfricanStage Results 1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 4:41.24,0 2. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 4:50.44,7 +9.20,7 3. The Gear Change 141-1 Justin Tuck (South Africa) 141-2 David George (South Africa) 4:52.50,4 +11.26,4 Overall Results 1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 24:36.57,0 2. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 25:02.03,3 +25.06,3 3. The Gear Change 141-1 Justin Tuck (South Africa) 141-2 David George (South Africa) 26:01.42,6 +1:24.45,6 4. BCX 10-1 Hendrik Kruger (South Africa) 10-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 26:09.52,7 +1:32.55,7 5. SPOT Africa-Agrichem 39-1 Timothy Hammond (South Africa) 39-2 Dominic Calitz (South Africa) 26:25.59,0 +1:49.02,0 6. Imbuko Freewheel Cycology 23-1 Christopher Wolhuter (South Africa) 23-2 Dylan Rebello (South Africa) 26:46.04,7 +2:09.07,7 7. NFB - Spine & Sport 27-1 Craig Uria (South Africa) 27-2 Andrew Duvenage (South Africa) 27:33.46,9 +2:56.49,9 8. William Simpson 33-1 Michael Posthumus (South Africa) 33-2 Derrin Smith (South Africa) 27:55.09,0 +3:18.12,0 9. LGE Midas/Slender-Wonder 330-1 Igna de Villiers (South Africa) 330-2 Paul Theron (South Africa) 28:36.30,8 +3:59.33,8 10. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 28:49.04,3 +4:12.07,3 2017 Stage 6 Exxaro Stage Results 1. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 5:22.28,4 2. BMT Academy Fairtree 1 362-1 Luyanda Thobigunya (South Africa) 362-2 Baphelele Mbobo (South Africa) 5:23.50,9 +1.22,5 3. Songo-Investec 1 373-1 Thando Klaas (South Africa) 373-2 Lorenzo Leroux (South Africa) 5:32.32,4 +10.04,0 Overall Results 1. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 28:49.04,3 2. BMT Academy Fairtree 1 362-1 Luyanda Thobigunya (South Africa) 362-2 Baphelele Mbobo (South Africa) 30:26.25,1 +1:37.20,8 3. Songo-Investec 1 373-1 Thando Klaas (South Africa) 373-2 Lorenzo Leroux (South Africa) 30:50.37,4 +2:01.33,1 4. DMA Absa 361-1 Sean Baloyi (South Africa) 361-2 Luke Mashiane (South Africa) 31:07.39,8 +2:18.35,5 5. Exxaro MTB Academy2 365-1 Anele Mtalana (South Africa) 365-2 Rilamulele Gadabeni (South Africa) 31:27.07,1 +2:38.02,8 6. RMB Change a Life 1 372-1 Bongumusa Zikhali (South Africa) 372-2 Mazwi Smimango (South Africa) 31:38.58,7 +2:49.54,4 7. RMB Change a Life 371-1 Ndumiso Dontso (South Africa) 371-2 Sipho Kupiso (South Africa) 32:24.19,9 +3:35.15,6 8. Land Rover 7 370-1 Syanda Masango (South Africa) 370-2 Luvuyo Siyasi (South Africa) 33:02.58,5 +4:13.54,2 9. Absa DMA ROSS 305-1 Clement Mabula (South Africa) 305-2 Mphodisa Bruce Sebopa (South Africa) 34:10.19,4 +5:21.15,1 10. BMT Academy 377-1 Abongile Bhusakwe (South Africa) 377-2 Siyabulela Tutu (South Africa) 34:32.14,5 +5:43.10,2
  22. Cooler temperatures greeted riders early on at Stage 6 of the Absa Cape Epic, but temperatures warmed up again as the day progressed. Thankfully, a consistent, fresh breeze gave relief to riders and spectators alike on a sunny Saturday. Click here to view the article
  23. Nico Bell of NAD Pro MTB leads the bunch during stage 4 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Diepsloot MTB Academy (William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona) flew triumphantly over the finish to extend their lead for the Exxaro special jersey to over an hour. The leading all-African women's team of Vera Adrian and Candice Lill (dormakaba) experienced yet another strong stage to add to their dream Absa Cape Epic debut. Riding as support team for Investec-Songo-Specialized, NAD Pro MTB raced hard on the day to finish ninth with a time of 4:16.39,3. Combrink was happy after the strong result. “Today was more of a marathon stage, so if you were smart you could hide away in the bunch. We were just in the front at the right times and Nico really set a tough pace. In the end, guys really got going but being in the front made it a little easier for us. “Our goal was just to stay in the front and support Christoph Sauser and Jaroslav Kulhavy if they had problems. We want to be right there to help if they they have any mechanical issues,” said Combrinck. The NAD Pro MTB pair were well prepared to keep up with the pace of the front runners. “Conditions were good. It had been raining nonstop last month in Nelspruit so we are used to cooler temperatures. Today was a little less punchy so it suited us better,” added Combrinck. Phil Buys of team PYGA Euro Steel during stage 4 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Elandskloof in Greyton to Oak Valley Wine Estate in Elgin. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS PYGA Euro Steel have managed keep the Absa African special jersey, though. Having a healthy overall lead in the category, the South Africans could afford small mishaps. Although they finished 15th for Stage 4, they still lead the chase for the special jersey. They are nearly 17 minutes in front of NAD Pro MTB in overall time. Buys says he is happy to have the Absa African special jersey heading into Stage 5, but admits Stage 4 didn’t go according to plan. “Before we started that long climb I was a bit off the pace. There was a particular area where we went over what I think was a piece of fence, and it looked like half of the bunch got caught out by it too. So from there we had to chase them all over again just as we started with the climb so it was tough going,” said Buys. Buys continued that in spite of PYGA Euro Steel’s mediocre day, there is no need to change strategy and a stage win is still possible. Meanwhile, Diepsloot MTB Academy are growing in confidence. With a lead that is worth over an hour in time, the Exxaro special jersey leaders are among the few content teams on the Absa Cape Epic. Their time today was 5:09.13,9. Sebona said, “Yesterday was a very strong day; today we continued with that strength. It wasn't easy though because we spent some long hours out there on the saddle, but everything is going according to plan.” His partner Mokgopo, added, “Today, the most important thing was keeping consistency and pacing ourselves from the start and we did that. We weren't trying to kill the legs today because I think the test is going to be stage six where we are going to try as hard as we can because we only have one day to go, so we can risk whatever we have. If we manage to build up an hour’s gap then I think we can afford to play around. The dormakaba riders Vera Adrian and Candice Lill finished fifth yet again. The pair have looked fit every day of this year’s Cape Epic, collecting a time of 5:14.42,6 on Stage 4. Candice Lill explained the conditions on Stage 4, “ In the beginning it was a lot of open roads and quite windy so being in the group it was a bit difficult because you had to fight for position all the time to stay out the wind and there were even a couple of crashes. “Then there was a point when it got really hard and we did not make that break, so we were in the second group, but I think we still rode strong and maybe made a bit of time on the leaders near the end.”
  24. Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes of PYGA Euro Steel during stage 3 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS They finished Stage 3 well ahead of BCX (Hendrik Kruger and Waylon Woolcock) and NAD Pro MTB (Nico Bell and Gawie Combrink). In the chase for the Exxaro special jersey, the 78km stage wasn’t enough to displace the ever-steady Diepsloot MTB Academy riders, William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona. Many pundits speculated that Buys and Beukes would chase the stage for their first win of this year’s race, but they ended the day in seventh position overall (3:10.42,7). Beukes said there were lots of positives to take from the day. “We tried to set the pace in the front like yesterday, but my legs didn't feel quite so fresh. We can still be proud because we were the only South African team in the lead group.” Although shorter distances suit the boys in red, Beukes explained that Stage 3 wasn’t a missed opportunity for a stage win. “There is still definitely more to come from us as we don’t rely solely on the short stuff. Three years ago we won a stage that was 110km long. Everyone is getting tired now, so perhaps if we are strong we can take advantage.” He added that, even though the pace wasn’t quite there yet, PYGA Euro Steel will continue their fight at the front. “We’re not the types to sit up and recover, we like going hard.” Waylon Woolcock of BCX during stage 3 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS BCX finished 14th overall on the stage. Kruger and Woolcock seem settled in second in the hunt for the Absa African special jersey. Gawie Combrink of NAD Pro MTB feels his team is too far adrift to challenge for the jersey. “The start was very dusty and with the sun behind, it made things quite tricky. But the stage itself was actually great and quite a lot of fun.” In the Exarro special jersey race, Diepsloot MTB Academy dominated the third stage with an impressive time of 3:43.10,3. Sebona admits he and Mokgopo are feeling confident to look beyond the Exxaro Jersey. “We have changed our focus. We have stopped going solely for the Exxaro special jersey because we feel we are strong enough to really go for a good general classification time and this is where we are putting our energy now. “But this won’t be an easy task, so we will be relying on our collective experience. With these difficult conditions, you need to be sure when you should go slow and when you have to push.” A very relaxed Mokgopo said the heat was bearable today and the riding was smooth and seamless. He believes the best is yet to come. “In the past two days we haven’t gone too deep into our red zone. We are just following our own gameplan and letting it unfold naturally. At the end we rode consistently and actually rode away from teams, so we are looking forward to tomorrow.” Candice Lill and Vera Adrian during stage 3 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Meanwhile, the leading all-African womens team of South Africa’s Candice Lill and Namibia’s Vera Adrian (dormakaba) are experiencing an excellent debut Absa Cape Epic. The two finished with a strong fourth position on Stage 3, coming in only six minutes behind the Hansgrohe Women’s category stage winners Sabine Spitz and Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) with an impressive time of 3:47.24,4. Adrian and Lill currently lie fifth in their category and 61st overall. 2017 Stage 3 Absa AfricanStage Results 1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 3:10.42,7 2. BCX 10-1 Hendrik Kruger (South Africa) 10-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 3:15.21,0 +4.38,3 3. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 3:18.47,1 +8.04,4 Overall Results 1. PYGA Euro Steel 9-1 Philip Buys (South Africa) 9-2 Matthys Beukes (South Africa) 11:32.43,0 2. BCX 10-1 Hendrik Kruger (South Africa) 10-2 Waylon Woolcock (South Africa) 11:48.21,7 +15.38,7 3. NAD Pro MTB 14-1 Nico Bell (South Africa) 14-2 Gawie Combrinck (South Africa) 11:55.40,7 +22.57,7 4. SPOT Africa-Agrichem 39-1 Timothy Hammond (South Africa) 39-2 Dominic Calitz (South Africa) 12:18.45,6 +46.02,6 5. Imbuko Freewheel Cycology 23-1 Christopher Wolhuter (South Africa) 23-2 Dylan Rebello (South Africa) 12:50.42,5 +1:17.59,5 6. NFB - Spine & Sport 27-1 Craig Uria (South Africa) 27-2 Andrew Duvenage (South Africa) 12:55.49,9 +1:23.06,9 7. Breedenet 549-1 Charl-Pierre Esterhuyse (South Africa) 549-2 CP van Wyk (South Africa) 13:05.19,8 +1:32.36,8 8. William Simpson 33-1 Michael Posthumus (South Africa) 33-2 Derrin Smith (South Africa) 13:06.53,4 +1:34.10,4 9. LGE Midas/Slender-Wonder 330-1 Igna de Villiers (South Africa) 330-2 Paul Theron (South Africa) 13:36.04,3 +2:03.21,3 10. Joberg2C-Valencia 565-1 Grant Usher (South Africa) 565-2 Amy Beth McDougall (South Africa) 13:37.32,6 +2:04.49,6 2017 Stage 3 Exxaro Stage Results 1. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 3:43.10,3 2. Exxaro MTB Academy2 365-1 Anele Mtalana (South Africa) 365-2 Rilamulele Gadabeni (South Africa) 3:55.13,6 +12.03,3 3. BMT Academy Fairtree 1 362-1 Luyanda Thobigunya (South Africa) 362-2 Baphelele Mbobo (South Africa) 3:57.29,6 +14.19,3 Overall Results 1. Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 376-1 William Mokgopo (South Africa) 376-2 Phillimon Sebona (South Africa) 13:46.53,3 2. BMT Academy Fairtree 1 362-1 Luyanda Thobigunya (South Africa) 362-2 Baphelele Mbobo (South Africa) 14:32.24,3 +45.31,0 3. Songo-Investec 1 373-1 Thando Klaas (South Africa) 373-2 Lorenzo Leroux (South Africa) 14:47.15,8 +1:00.22,5 4. DMA Absa 361-1 Sean Baloyi (South Africa) 361-2 Luke Mashiane (South Africa) 15:05.03,7 +1:18.10,4 5. RMB Change a Life 1 372-1 Bongumusa Zikhali (South Africa) 372-2 Mazwi Smimango (South Africa) 15:05.20,6 +1:18.27,3 6. Exxaro MTB Academy2 365-1 Anele Mtalana (South Africa) 365-2 Rilamulele Gadabeni (South Africa) 15:15.03,2 +1:28.09,9 7. RMB Change a Life 371-1 Ndumiso Dontso (South Africa) 371-2 Sipho Kupiso (South Africa) 15:45.42,5 +1:58.49,2 8. Land Rover 7 370-1 Syanda Masango (South Africa) 370-2 Luvuyo Siyasi (South Africa) 16:08.43,2 +2:21.49,9 9. Absa DMA ROSS 305-1 Clement Mabula (South Africa) 305-2 Mphodisa Bruce Sebopa (South Africa) 16:16.54,9 +2:30.01,6 10. BMT Academy 377-1 Abongile Bhusakwe (South Africa) 377-2 Siyabulela Tutu (South Africa) 17:12.06,0 +3:25.12,7
  25. Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes. During Stage 2 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race from Hermanus High School in Hermanus to Elandskloof in Greyton, South Africa. Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Buys and Beukes crossed the ad hoc finish line at the Caledon Botanical Gardens with a stage time of 2:37.02, 10 minutes in front of their nearest Absa African special jersey challengers, BCX (Waylon Woolcock and Hendrik Kruger). Beukes was happy to finish with a strong lead over BCX and said, “I think it was a good decision to shorten the race. This of course made the racing pretty intense from the start, which we liked. The stage was exciting and the route was quite spectacular.” Lessons are learned fast on the Absa Cape Epic, and a slight tweak to their strategy meant they were able to pull out a lead and put some pressure on the front runners early on in the day. “Yesterday I struggled at the back of the pack and that hurt me quite a bit, so this morning we stayed out in the front to set the pace. This is great because it means we can ride in the top five,” said Beukes. “Three quarters of the way through the stage we backed off a little bit – there are still five days left so there’s no point in ripping off the legs now.” Buys was happy to use the shortened course to PYGA Euro Steel’s advantage, and adapted accordingly. “We definitely tried to use it to our benefit. The stage was shorter and faster which suited us a little better than some of the other African teams, and that’s where we capitalised. “We communicated and gauged ourselves. We discussed if we wanted to go for the stage win but we didn’t chase it in the end. We hung around in front for some time and decided not to push for it.” Buys does not think it was an opportunity lost. “I don’t think our lead was unnecessary because I think we got quite a lead for the Absa African special jersey, and it would also be great to go for a stage win somewhere. There is fuel in the tank, and this is where we get going now.” Woolcock and Kruger had a tougher day than they hoped for, with each rider having issues that forced them to concede time . “In the first 10 kilometres I had some technical problems, so I was forced to stop and found it was a jammed chain and jockey wheel. That cost us time and a lot of riders passed us, so when we got going again we had to find our way through some bad traffic. “I think another long day would have been a little tough on many of the riders. It would have been tough for us as Waylon was battling some issues of his own, so in hindsight I think we are lucky the day was shortened. Woolcock didn’t face mechanical issues, but rather health problems. “Yesterday and last night I started to have some stomach issues. I’m glad that it’s an early finish today – it just gives me a chance to recover. It was also fortunate that we didn’t lose too much time, thanks to the shorter distance,” said Woolcock. In the race for the Exarro special jersey, Diepsloot MTB Academy (William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona) remained dominant in Stage 2, extending their overall gap to 28 minutes and 20 seconds. Phillimon Sebona and William Mokgopo of team Diepsloot MTB Academy 1 at the start. Photo by Greg Beadle/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS Mokgopo says it’s a great feeling to hold onto the Exxaro special jersey yet again. “We came here to try and get a lead right from the first day and then maintain it from there. Today we did just that and tried to open the gap. Phillimon was a champion today,” said Mokgopo. Although they hold an impressive lead in the Exarro special jersey race, Sebona plans to stay realistic. “The Absa Cape Epic is such a long race and you have to try conserve as much as you can. If we look at our performance history, we have sometimes popped after the first day. That is why it is good to have such a great partner in William. We help as much as we can, and we really do believe in each other.”
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