It was a nail biting finish at the fifth round of the National MTB Series as the men and women’s races came down to the wire in Van Gaalen, near Skeerpoort, today.
A game of cat and mouse ensued between Matthys Beukes and Brendon Davids after Beukes’ teammate, Philip Buys, dropped out with a puncture 40km in.
In the end PYGA Euro Steel’s Beukes was able to hold off Davids as he pipped the RoadCover rider to the post, winning the event by one second.
Despite feeling confident, Beukes said it had been a close call as he said he’d emptied his tank fighting to keep up during the 68km route, entering with final 3km utterly spent.
“He (Davids) was super strong on the flat and I just had to hold onto his wheel but on the final climb, with about 15km to go, I got a small gap on him,” said Beukes.
“I then bonked a bit on the final 3km but thankfully the gap was just enough. It was quite a tight finish.”
Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) finished in third, crossing the line four minutes behind Beukes and Davids.
Not to be outdone, the ladies put on an equally impressive performance as they set a fast pace from the get-go.
Winning lady Candice Lill reveled in the speedy start and quickly settled at the front of the group, along with series leader Robyn de Groot and Samantha Sanders.
“It was a bit of a yo-yo situation as I’d get ahead but they’d chase back,” said the dormakaba rider.
As the trio entered the last major stretch of single track, De Groot gradually dropped back, leaving Lill and Sanders to ride their own race to the finish.
Lill, who had familiarised herself with the final stretch, knew she’d have to make her move before the last short stretch of single track before the finish if she was to stand any chance of riding away with the win.
“Sam was in the front and I told myself to give it everything to pass her and get into the single track first. I came past her with speed and when she didn’t respond I thought she might be a little tired, or just didn’t know the finish was so close.”
She added that although it had been a “stressful” ending, it had been “exciting” to pull it off as she’d never won in a sprint finish before.
“It was exciting racing today because people kept breaking away and coming back. You didn’t know what was going to happen right until the end,” said Lill.
De Groot finished one minute later to secure the final position in the top three.