PYGA EuroSteel’s Philip Buys and dormakaba’s Candice Lill put in steady performances to emerge as overall winners of the sixth round of the National MTB Series in Dullstroom on Saturday.
Beukes, who was forced to withdraw on the 74km opening leg, came back to win the 51km stage ahead of teammate Buys and NAD Pro’s Nico Bell yesterday.
Satisfied with his stage win, Beukes said it did not quite make up for the previous day.
“It’s one of those things, it’s part of the game and just bad luck,” he said.
“This year has been really good for me so I can’t complain, but obviously it’s not ideal. It would have been better to finish Saturday in a good position too.”
The PYGA duo set a fast pace from the start as Beukes, fresh from his unplanned rest, dropped the bunch 5km in.
He was joined at the 20km mark by Buys and stage one winner Gert Heyns, who rode across after dropping the other contenders. However, the Ascendis Health rider faltered about 2km later and was left behind.
“Phil and I worked well together for the last 30km and it was a successful day. Our plan worked perfectly; I was able to win and Phil moved into first.”
Bell and Heyns finished second and third overall, respectively one and two minutes off Buys’ time of 4:47:47.
Beukes said he was confident he and Buys would be able to put on a good show when the series concluded in Kaapsehoop, Mpumalanga, next month.
“We’ve got some stage races before that so, come Kaapsehoop, I think we’ll be really strong.”
In the women’s race, Sanders came back from what she described as a “dismal” day one to win in a sprint finish against Lill, the stage one winner.
“Candice had three minutes on me from Saturday so for me it was all about the stage win,” she said.
After trying, and failing, to get away from the dormakaba rider, Sanders said she realised it would come down to the line.
“A sprint finish was in the back of my mind so I didn’t want to go too hard and risk blowing and her catching me again. When I realised it was going to be a sprint, I started thinking about the process.”
She said she knew the race would be made on the final stretches of single-track and went all-out to get ahead of Lill.
“I knew I’d have to get into the single-track first and also that she’d want to be in before me, so I was prepared for it.
“The second I heard her start pushing behind me, I went flat-out to get there first.”
The close race meant Sanders was unable to make up any time in the overall standings.
She and Yolandi du Toit, who finished third on the stage, completed the podium behind Lill, who set an overall time of 5:32:10.
Sanders confirmed that, barring any unforeseen circumstances, she would line up for the final event and looked forward to an exciting finale.
“If all the girls are there – Robyn (De Groot), Amy (McDougall), Candice, Theresa (Ralph), Yolandi, myself – then we’ll be able to have a good ding-dong battle.”