Philip Buys delivered a dominant performance at the Trailseeker Lionman mountain bike event at Mabalingwe Nature Reserve, north of Pretoria, yesterday.
The PYGA rider said the rough, technical 68km route had been perfectly suited to his style of riding.
“For Matthys (Beukes) and I the sandy sections were where we could save our energy and when it got rough that’s where we had a slight advantage because that’s what our bikes are made for and we have the skill to get through,” said Buys.
Buys, who participated in the event a few years back, said the race started at a relaxed pace before he, Declan Sidey, Nico Bell and Wessel Botha broke away from the rest of the group just before the major climb of the day, roughly 40km in.
“Nico was about five seconds behind me as we reached the top and on the downhill I went as fast as I could and was able to get a slight gap.
“For the last 15km or 20km, I was alone at the front and I managed to keep that gap over Nico.”
The Pretoria resident finished in 2:41:26, just one minute ahead of Bell, who beat Buys by one second at the opening event of the Gauteng series in March. Sidey finished six minutes behind Bell to fill the final step of the podium.
Drawing on his past experience of the route, Buys said he knew the major climb of the day, the mast climb, was where he’d have to make his move.
“They’ve changed the route since I last rode it but I knew the whole thing would be really, really rough.
“With our PYGA bikes we’ve got a lot of confidence if the going gets tough and I knew if I wanted to do something then I’d have to do it on the big climb.
“Everything before and after that climb was an unknown to me but it all worked out pretty well in the end,” he said.
It was a busy week leading up to the third installment of the series as Buys said he was in the midst of preparing for the National MTB Championships.
“In the last two weeks I’ve been focused on shorter and more intense rides.
“My figures look good, it will just be about applying everything on the day and not making any mistakes.
“It’s always a good confidence booster if you can win before something like the national champs.”
Christie-Leigh Hearder completed the top three, finishing a further ten minutes back.
The penultimate event of the Gauteng series takes place in September.