Beukes and Buys, who have formed a formidable combination in recent years under the PYGA Euro-Steel banner, had their sights set on the overall spoils in the eight-stage race this season.
The duo have 11 Cape Epic races, five stage wins and multiple African jersey titles to their names.
PYGA Euro-Steel manager Ruan Lochner said today that Buys began feeling the symptoms on Sunday and that his condition worsened on Wednesday.
“I obviously feel gutted for Philip [Buys],” Lochner told In the Bunch. “This year has had the best build-up and structure yet. I honestly felt they would have been contenders for an overall podium.
“Unfortunately, this is part of the sport. It is great to have sponsors behind us every step of the way.”
Beukes will still take part though – with other PYGA Euro-Steel prospect Julian Jessop. Jessop was the highest South African finisher in the men’s under-23 race at the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup on Saturday.
“I am happy we can still go forward with Matthys and Julian,” Lochner said. “I feel like they will ride well together and they will be very fast on the shorter stages.”
Lochner believes the new pairing will be in with “a good shot”, specifically for the African jersey.
“Matthys has a lot of experience – he has won the African jersey four times.
“Julian is a lively character and he has been racing and travelling with us for six months. He is no stranger to our vibe and team dynamics.”
Jessop, Lochner said, would complement Beukes well throughout the race.
“Julian is young and very fast, especially on the downhills, which plays well into our team’s strength. Matthys and him gel really well.
“Our goal is to create an environment that is fun and relaxed for our athletes and sure, there is some pressure, but Julian has shown that he can handle it while racing on the world cross-country circuit.”
“There are no expectations from them apart from staying as close as possible in the first 20 to 30km and then taking it easy all the way home.
“Pieter is very fast on the shorter stages, so I am sure they will be in the mix in the prologue, time-trial and the last few stages.
“Pieter is still young and racing from start to finish may not be a good idea, but he will surely gain valuable experience from the event.”