Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes, fresh from their Cape Pioneer Trek win, hope to end the season on a high note by defending their Wines2Whales title when the race starts at the Lourensford Wine Estate tomorrow.
The PYGA EuroSteel pair, who recently defended their Berg and Bush “Descent” title, believe they are well prepared going into the three-day mountain-bike stage race which has been rebranded the Shiraz event.
“The Cape Pioneer Trek was a good week-long race and boosted the form a bit, so we feel confident we can defend our title,” said Beukes.
“After winning it [Cape Pioneer Trek] there was not much we could’ve done to improve the form. We rather rested and made sure the legs were sharpened up for this, and we’ve done that, so we’re excited for some decent racing.”
He said they were regular competitors and always looked forward to Wines2Whales, which consists of 69km, 66km and 72km stages.
“The route is always the same, but it’s exciting racing and we always enjoy that. The first day feels the longest and there’s only one big climb, but it’s too early to make a break there.
“In the past few years we’ve seen that day three can be the main decider, so we’ll try to race smart up until then and play our cards there,” said Beukes.
The 30-year-old felt it had been an “up and down season”, especially compared to last year, as they both suffered various setbacks.
“That’s just the way things go. We have the opportunity to end it [the season] on a high note and hopefully it works out for us.”
Buys felt this was an important race for him as he missed the middle part of the season.
“I feel motivated and excited to race. Usually I’d feel quite tired this time of the year so in a sense my time off the bike was also a good thing.
He added that their last few races had shown their form was good and they had a problem-free build-up to this event.
Their competitors include NAD Pro MTB’s Nico Bell and Matthew Beers, Giant’s Nicol Carstens and Jurgens Uys, Spot Africa’s Timothy Hammond and Arno du Toit and Spur-Specialized’s Alan Hatherly and Simon Andreasson.
“It’s quite a strong field this year, so we’ll keep an eye on everyone and we also have three or four places where we plan to make our moves, but otherwise the key will be to stay at the front and ride smooth.
“On this route it will be difficult to make up any time lost,” said the 30-year-old.