NAD Pro’s Matt Beers underscored how versatile a cyclist he was by winning his third straight road tour in a year when he defended his Mpumalanga Tour title at Loskopdam today.
Twelve months ago Beers, a noted mountain-biker, said he had surprised himself by winning the tour. But he has since proved he is as adept at winning on the tarmac as in the dirt.
In August last year the 25-year-old also won the Lowveld Tour.
Beers said the key contributing factor behind his success on the road was the dynamics within his team.
“It’s a combination of things – both Nico [Bell] and Gawie [Combrinck] have raced on the road before mountain-biking,” Beers told In the Bunch today.
“They have great knowledge about how it works and they’ve obviously transferred that knowledge and experience to Wessel [Botha] and me.”
He added that the team’s commitment to training during the off-season had also played a vital role.
The Cape Town local took the lead after stage two, a lead he and the team retained throughout.
“After the TT [stage two] we sort of knew who posed the threats so we just had to make sure those riders didn’t make it into any breaks.”
Beers said it wasn’t worth the gamble to mark those “other teammates” of general classification riders who had gone up the road.
The race situation differed from last year where Beers snatched the title away from Eddie van Heerden in the final stage.
“Winning lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. It was a really different type of race tactically [from last year].
“It was mentally draining. You had to be a lot more aware. With Willie [Smit] being the very good road rider he is you had to be on your toes all day, every day.”
Katusha-Alpecin’s Smit won two stages, the first and the last. The WorldTour rider came second overall, with Botha finishing third.
Aside from Smit, Beers said the OfficeGuru riders had pushed him particularly hard throughout the tour.
“They played a big part in the race. They’ve got a big team and Dylan [Girdlestone] and Marc [Pritzen] had their riders on the front and animated the race quite well.
“Willie had to obviously ride more conservatively because he was by himself.”
Beers will now focus on mountain-biking when he takes part in the first SA Cup Series Cross-country event at Rhebokskloof on February 2.