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Found 18 results

  1. 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.”
  2. “I knew that it would be a hard stage, but the route suited us well,” said Beukes. “We applied some pressure in the rocky sections. The group stuck together and then Konny’s bike got a flat tyre. From there it was a 60km drag race. Stage Three will be like a one day race for us. It’s basically our last big race of the year so we might as well go all out.” Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys of Team PYGA Euro Steel 1 in action during Stage Two of the FNB W2W MTB Race. Photo Credit: Tobias Ginsberg Teammate Philip Buys expects a tough Stage Three. “Today wasn’t an easy day or an easy win. We know that Stage Three won’t be any easier,” said Buys. Team PYGA Euro Steel 1 completed Stage Two in an impressive time of 02 hours 39 minutes 12 seconds. Team NAD Pro MTB’s Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell came in second, while Team Investec-Songo.info’s Konny Looser and Christoph Sauser finished third. Team Valencia Ladies’ Samantha Sanders and Amy McDougall completed Stage Two in a deserving time of 03 hours 01 minute 38 seconds. Samantha Sanders and Amy Mcdougall of Team Valencia Ladies in action during Stage Two of the FNB W2W MTB Race. Photo Credit: David Tarpey “I knew that we had a lot of single track coming up on Stage Two,” says Sanders. “I went to the front and set the tempo. We reached the single track first and just held our lead from there.” “Today was beautiful,” says McDougall. “I felt much better than yesterday and the single track suited our riding style. It was smiles all the way. We plan on riding as hard as we can on the last stage.” Team Meerendal CBC’s Jennie Stenerhag and Adelheid Morath came in second, with Team Velocity Sports Lab’s Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster placing third on the day. In the mixed team race husband and wife duo Jeannie and Martin Dreyer of Team Merchants claimed another stage victory with a finishing time of 03 hours 16 minutes 32 seconds. “We had a phenomenal day,” says Jeannie. “I like to think that my mountain biking skills are improving as I felt more relaxed and was able to enjoy the stage. The route was smooth and free flowing. Everything just seemed to connect well. We’re looking forward to Stage Three. It’s always special seeing the ocean.” Team Jowetts Racing’s Natalie Bergstrom and Warren Price came in second, while Team SAICA’s Ila and Darryn Stow finished third. Leading out Stage Three: Going into Stage Three Team Investec-Songo.info’s Konny Looser and Christoph Sauser have a 6 second lead over Team PYGA Euro Steel 1’s Matthys Beukes Philip Buys. Team NAD Pro MTB’s Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell are in third place. “Even though it’s only 6 seconds, going into Stage Three as the leaders makes a difference,” says Looser. “It’s a mental game. The other teams will have to attack. Both teams are pretty much on the same level. It won’t be easy to make up the difference.” In the Women’s Race Team Meerendal CBC’s Jennie Stenerhag and Adelheid Morath have just over 5 minutes on Team Dormakaba’s Candice Lill and Vera Adrian. Team Valencia Ladies’ Samantha Sanders and Amy Mcdougall are in third place. “Stage Three will be a tough stage,” says Stenerhag. “I try not to think about the prize money until after the race. I was thinking about it a bit during Stage Two though. Overall is what counts.” Team Merchants’ Jeannie and Martin Dreyer are leading the Mixed Team Race by over 8 minutes. Team Jowetts Racing’s Natalie Bergstrom and Warren Price are in second place, with Team SAICA’s Ila and Darryn Stow lying in third place. The only stage to start and finish at the Oak Valley Wine Estate, “Play Day” saw riders having to complete a 71km route that featured a 1350 ascent. Iconic sections to look out for on route included bridges with names such as Waterfall, Vissie’s Magic, JK’s Edge, Sounds of Silence, Rietvlei, Witklippies 1 & 2, Raka, Swing, Ark, Cobra, Mamba, Boomslang, Pofadder, Jakkels, River Run and the much loved PERI-KROMCO Playpark to mention just a few. RESULTS - Stage Two FNB W2W MTB Race.pdf
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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.”
  13. 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
  14. 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.”
  15. Once again PYGA Euro Steel’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes earned the right to wear the red Absa African special jersey after the shortened Stage 2 of the Absa Cape Epic where they made the pace at the front of the race early in the 62km course. Click here to view the article
  16. A thirsty Buys said he and Beukes found their race pace relatively easy, but maintaining strength throughout the day became a challenge. Matthys Beukes of PYGA Euro Steel during stage 1 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Hermanus High School in Hermanus, South Africa on the 20th March 2017. Photo by Nick Muzik/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS “It was fine for the first half until we got to that major climb at Haarkappersroete, and that’s when we started taking some strain. Once we got to the other side the heat also started to be a major factor. “I lost one of my bottles and had to stop once to fill up the other, and from there it was just survival along the flat section. We have the Absa African jersey so that’s good for now. We are looking to keep it steady for the next few days,” said Buys. Ten seconds adrift of PYGA Euro Steel in the overall standings, BCX’s Woolcock says they owe their good fortune to pre-race preparation and staying out of trouble. Waylon Woolcock during stage 1 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage. Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS “I think we found good momentum because we didn’t face any problems and that’s what we wanted. In a race like this you don’t want to end it on Stage 1 with a serious technical or crash.”“With a lot of these routes you are able ride here any time of the year, so we came and did some of the climbs, like a lot of other riders did, but I think it gave us the edge in knowing where the climbs were. It helped manage the pressure points and technical descents,” said Woodcock. Woolcock enjoyed the course but, like Buys, maintains the first stage is one of the toughest of this year’s Epic. “There is no easy riding apart from the tar road in the beginning, but even that is uphill, so it’s just one of those relentless stages where you don't get any rhythm. There isn’t much district road so it’s all just jeep track and rough farm roads.” Riding with Kruger as his new partner, Woolcock felt he and his teammate learned valuable lessons about each other after the 101km Stage 1. “I’ve got a slightly different riding style. I rather force my way into the front and do a little more hard work in the beginning, because that’ll stop that concertina effect through corners and single track. After today I think HB will have seen that trying to boss your way in there helps for the fight in the beginning.” Woolcock added that they “… are happy, but there is still a long way to go and anything can happen. We will just tick off the days and take it day by day. It’s good to have Stage 1 under the belt because it’s usually the toughest in terms of finding your feet and your form.” In the race for the Exxaro Special Jersey, Velokhaya/Thesele lost their five-minute stage one lead at the third water point after one of the team had difficulties with dehydration and was unable to continue, giving the lead to Diepsloot MTB Academy. William Mokgopo and Phillimon Sebona of Diepsloot MTB Academy now lead that race after a Stage 1 time of (5:39.48). They finished the first stage with a 13-minute lead over second-placed Luyanda Thobigunya and Baphelele Mbobo (BMT Academy Fairtree).
  17. Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes form the “African MTB team” PYGA Euro Steel. Previously teammates riding as Scott LCB Factory Racing, 2017 sees them with new sponsors, and of course new bikes. The pair have a solid track record riding together, and have their eyes firmly on the Absa African jersey at this year’s Cape Epic, as well as on an overall podium spot. We caught up with them to check in on their race preparation, find out more about their plans for 2017, and of course their new bikes. Click here to view the article
  18. Philip Buys (left) and Matthys Beukes (right). You will be racing the Pyga Stage this year, which is pretty appropriate: the African MTB team, racing South African bikes. How have you enjoyed getting to know the Pyga Stage and what about the bike will help give you a competitive edge in the quest for those podium spots? It was refreshing to jump onto the new Pyga platform after being on the same bike for the past four years. I feel that the bike is perfectly designed with South African conditions in mind. Terrain in South Africa is like no other place I have raced in the world, so you need a solid bike that can handle it.One of the first big plus points of the bike, is that I can fit two big 750ml water bottles in the front triangle of the frame. The frame really feels super solid underneath me and with its “+Five” design the straighter chain-line gives me power transfer that is more direct. The stiffness of the Pyga Stage frame obviously adds to how the bike handles on the tight trails and with the Pyga's longer head tube, it allows me to ride a shorter stem, and I feel much more in control of the bike. The slacker head angle gives me a better feel of stability on high-speed downhills. The suspension design on this bike also gives good traction on bumpy climbs. All of these elements pulled together in the Pyga Stage, gives us a super efficient bike, and I feel that this is where our competitive edge lies for Epic, and any other race for that matter. Phil Yes, it's really exciting that things have come together the way they have. My first thought after getting on the Pyga Stage was how solid the bike is. I enjoy that solid feeling on the downhills as I can really push hard without worrying about the bike, and I can feel that the power transfer on the climbs is exceptional. My Strava also proves it and we all know: Strava doesn't lie! Matthys Matthys Beukes competing in the SA National XCO Cup at Rhebokskloof. Photo credit: Hayden Brown. You have raced together successfully in the past. What characteristics do you each have that help you work well together as a team? Matthys and I both have a passion for bicycles and thoroughly enjoy racing them. We are good friends and there is not much that will cause us to back off or give up in a race. Matthys really has a strong mind and I can feed on that. I think sometimes we race better together as a team than when we race as individuals. Phil We get along really well and I think that is probably the most important thing. We are not too serious and at the end of the day just enjoy riding our bikes so that helps with dealing with the pressure. Philip is really quick on the technical stuff so most of the time I’ll just follow his wheel. I’ll do some of the hard pulls on the flats and set most of the pace on the climbs. I think one thing that we are known for is our never give up attitude: we’ll always give it 100% even if things go pear shaped. We’ll never give up and take it easy, it's fun to go fast! Matthys How has your preparation been going building up towards the Cape Epic? Would you say you are on track? Can you give us an idea of your average training week? So far for me it has been my best buildup for Epic ever. Usually Epic forms part of my buildup for the rest of the season, but this time it is a main focus point for the first part of our 2017 season. The goal in my training specifically for Epic was to get my body to be more fuel efficient and to lose a bit of weight. This meant a bunch of IMTG rides and a few double sessions with them. I did not do many weeks over 20 hours, maybe one or two. The adaption with IMTG rides made up for the longer rides that I did not do. Phil After my crash at the end of last year, I was a bit worried when the Doc said I’d only be able to walk at the beginning of January. But everything went so well, I was only passive for 5 weeks then spent a month on the indoor trainer and after that trained super hard to catch up. After getting on the road, I have done a couple 30 hour weeks but mostly around 25 hours with my rest weeks around 15hrs. It's probably the hardest I’ve ever trained but after my injuries, it was so much fun getting out and riding that it didn’t feel hard. Matthys What remains in terms of your preparation for Cape Epic? Will you be doing any races together as build up? We won't be doing any races before Epic from now. We'd like to leave our hunger and motivation for racing the Epic. It's just one more hard week of intervals and then the focus is on staying healthy and injury free during the taper phase. Phil I've just got one more hard week before I’ll start to taper off for Epic. The hard work is done: now it's just about fine tuning and most importantly, staying healthy, and enjoying the build up. Matthys Philip Buys. Photo credit: Hayden Brown On paper, you have a good chance of winning the African jersey. Where do you think your advantage lies in the race? We set pretty high goals for ourselves, and I'm sure at least the African Jersey will follow with the goals we have set out to achieve. With the Epic, paper does not mean much We will take the race day by day. The one advantage we have is that our partnership racing together has been tested over a few years, and we have the experience. Phil I would say the fact that we don’t think about the African jersey and set our goals higher, towards the overall podium, elevates everything we do. Train harder, eat smarter, and just be more committed to being the best athletes we can be. This gets us in better shape on race day than we would be if we were preparing to just beat the local teams. Matthys A lot of the top level teams ride with a support team to supply spares in the event of mechanical. Will you be riding with a support team or simply hoping for the best? Winning Epic is a long term goal for us. We will not have a dedicated support team but we will have a rider in the UCI field with an identical team bike for when things go wrong. We would like the members of a second team to be part of our structure for the whole season and currently our setup cannot support this. Phil Backup team or not: we're always hoping for the best! Matthys Beyond Epic, what will be your focus for 2017? Philip particularly: you raced XCO very successfully last year. Will this be a focus for you again, or with the Olympics out of the way will you be more focused on marathon racing? Do you have any other races you will be targeting particularly? We enjoy cross country racing a lot and feel that it keeps our skills and intensity sharp, so we will still be doing the XC races. After Epic we start racing plenty. Our focus will be on races with good publicity and we would like to rake in the National Champ titles for the team. Phil Yes, it is important to not get stuck on just one race and goal. After Epic the racing has just started, and I will focus on both XC and Marathon National Champs, and hopefully get to Marathon Worlds to see if I can crack a top 10. Matthys The African MTB Team name continues with the new sponsors but how much remains the same in the background? “African MTB Team” is an idea and dream that we started building since 2013. I raced one season as an individual rider and realized that the key to performance lies with the people around you and the support structures they offer. From there on Matthys, Ruan (manager) and I started riding together as a team and over the years partnered with sponsors that share the same vision. Although our title sponsors have changed, most of our other sponsors have been relationships going from strength to strength over the past few years.We have signed a 3-year partnership with PYGA and Euro Steel and look forward to building a relationship with them to achieve the goals we set out. We would like to create a self-sustainable local platform for any youngster with the dream to be part of a pro mountain bike setup. This is not limited to just being a rider, but also the other facets of a professional team: mechanics, managers, media crew, masseuses, cooks and more. And on the riding side, we would like to win Epic Phil New title sponsors with Pyga and Euro Steel, but we were also very blessed to have a solid support structure from guys that have been with us for a while now. Got to give them a shout out, chasing our dreams wouldn’t be possible without them: Liqui Moly, Cadence Nutrition, Kalas Sportswear, SRAM, Nike Vision, Maxxis, Ritchey, Stages Power Meters, and Trail Wolf Cycles. Other new sponsors are John Burnett Insurance Brokers, Penetron South Africa and Sidi shoes. Matthys Philip Buys, Matthys Beukes, and Kombo Bere. Photo credit: Hayden Brown.
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