After three weeks of dedicated training ahead of his final block of racing for the season, Philip Buys is ready to defend his overall lead in the National MTB Series in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga, this weekend.
“We’ve had a consistent season and that’s obviously a good thing for the overall rankings,” said PYGA EuroSteel’s Buys.
Teammate Matthys Beukes is second in the series, followed by the NAD Pro pair of Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck.
Buys said he was ready to resume racing after focusing on his conditioning.
“The hard work is done. I’d say we’re ready for our next bunch of races, so it’s just about the racing now and keeping it together.”
Reflecting on the series, Buys said he was happy with his performances, but warned that it was important not to get ahead of oneself.
“We’ve had a consistent season and that’s obviously a good thing for the overall rankings.
“We have pretty good shape so it shouldn’t be too difficult, but we still have two races left so there are four stages where we still have to defend the lead we have.”
Defending champion Max Knox, currently fifth overall, will not line up for the penultimate event due to injury but Buys said this changed little in the grand scheme of things.
“We’ve got the lead now so we’ll race to beat whoever is there.”
After finishing in the top five at each of the events he had entered, Buys said the team’s plan was to continue their dominant style of racing in round six.
“Our racing style is to take control of the racing, to show dominance early on, so we’ll stick to that tactic because it’s shown to work.”
With teammates Philimon Sebona and Kombo Bere lining up at the start alongside the series leaders, Buys said they would have “strength in numbers” should they need backup and support.
Buys has an impressive curriculum vitae to show after many years in the saddle, but the 28-year-old said there was still room for improvement.
“We’re not the best in the world so we still have a lot to learn.
“We learn after every race and every season and I think our progression over the years has shown that we actually do learn, apply these lessons and get faster and faster.”
Robyn de Groot leads the women’s category ahead of Sarah Hill and Amy McDougall, but, with both De Groot and McDougall feeling under the weather, it could likely be a race between Candice Lill, Samantha Sanders and Theresa Ralph.