Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys fought back from an unlucky start to win the Berg and Bush mountain bike race, which finished at Em’seni in KwaZulu-Natal today.
The pair suffered a mechanical on the opening 99km stage, a blow that saw them finish third and set them back more than a minute behind leaders Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck.
Undeterred, the 3 Towers winners set out on the second stage determined to make up the deficit.
“We have proven once we’re on the back foot we can be very dangerous,” said Beukes, who made his first appearance at the three-day event.
“We went out very hard on day two after Nico and Gawie. We really had to race hard to try make up the time.”
Lady luck was on their side as the leaders suffered their own problems on the 60km stage, allowing the PYGA EuroSteel pair to take the win and make up time.
The stage was one that suited the in-form duo and Beukes said they had flown through the bushveld and single track en-route to creating a five-minute gap between them in the general classification.
They started the final stage content with riding smart, rather than fast, and rode much of the 50km stage with the NAD Pro team and their backup riders Phillimon Sebona and Julian Jessop.
“Everyone was a bit tired today, so it was quite mellow until we hit the Spioenkop climb, which was probably at the 35km mark.
“It kicked off there and we got away with Nico and Gawie, with Phillimon and Julian just behind us. We sat behind them on the last big downhill and we just rode it for the sprint,” said the 29-year-old George resident.
In the end Beukes and Buys crossed the line first in 1:51:45, one second ahead of Bell and Combrink, who finished second overall. Andrew Hill and Declan Sidey placed third overall after finishing seventh today.
The women’s race was an exciting display of dominance from Samantha Sanders and Amy McDougall.
It was “mission accomplished” for the Valencia Ladies pair, who won each of the stages and rode away with the overall honours in 7:08:49.
They turned the tables on Candice Lill and Vera Adrian after the pair defeated them at the 3 Towers race last weekend.
“We had really bad luck with punctures last weekend, but we knew our form was good so we were hoping to take the win this weekend,” said Sanders.
The opening stage gave Sanders and McDougall a five-minute lead, which they steadily increased during the following days.
“We had a decent lead from day one and we knew we were a strong team but we raced every day flat out, as hard as we could,” said the 28-year-old.
“You try not to think about winning until you’ve won, so when we crossed the finish line it was a huge sigh of relief and we were really stoked to win it.”
They finished in 7:08:49, more than 10 minutes ahead of Lill and Adrian, who finished second overall after finishing as runner-ups on each stage. Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster were never far behind as they finished third overall.