Claiming victory at Hell of the South.
It's always good to start the year with a bang! This weekend we travelled down to Oudtshoorn to take on the toughest single stage race in South Africa, the Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme ending down at the Pine Creek Resort next to the Great Brak River, near Mosselbaai.
It was great to see the whole team together and we had a good time in George leading up to the race. Also good to welcome Milan our full time media guy to his first race with the team. Below we are providing race reports from each of our riders individually, so sit back and relax as they reflect how they #survivedtheattakwas.
1st Place for Matthys Beukes
It's always an exciting start to the new season with the challenge that Attakwas brings.
I prepared well and was determined to defend my title from last year but also try and go for the course record held by Swiss power house, Urs Huber.
My tactics would be much the same as last year, make sure the competition has tired legs by the halfway mark then set off in search of that record pace. I felt good from early on and knew that it was going to be a good day so I pushed the pace as planned. Unlike last year we battled a strong headwind over the first half of the race and I could see that we were close to 8min behind the pace and thought that riding a new record time wouldn’t be possible on the day…
At the halfway point I went off on my own and were able to ride a good tempo, opening a gap on the chasers and gaining time back on the course record with a nice tailwind now pushing along.
I was starting to believe that a new record might be possible with the wind now in my back and just needed to make sure I stay hydrated and not run out of energy. Unfortunately, with 30km to go I started feeling slight cramps in my hamstrings and had to back off quite a bit just to make sure I don’t cramp up.
Stats wise, I did 10% less power over the last 30km than last year which means I have mixed feelings about the day. Anyway, overall I must be happy as I did indeed defend the title and took home my 3rd Attakwas rock! In the end I missed the record by around 3 minutes to set the 2nd fastest time ever and considering my final that is not too bad. It just means that I have already started thinking about next years race, tactics and preparation.
Looking forward to the rest of 2019! ~ Matthys Beukes
5th place for Pieter Du Toit
I had a good week of training leading up to the Attakwas and I felt highly prepared. So let's talk about the race. It was a fast and dusty start, but I pushed through and rode with the front batch. After the first 20km we were about 8-10 riders pushing each other.
Then at the Attakwas climb it all fell apart when Matthys attacked, he and Gert Heyns went off and left Arno du Toit and me behind. That is how I continued the race. Nicol Carstens then passed both of us placing us at 4th and 5th place. As we reached the last 20km I started pulling amps and Arno rode on without me putting me in 5th place.
I kept my 5th place till the finish, I’m very proud of my results. A big thanks to Ruan, Milan and Udo for the support at the feeds zones. ~ Pieter Du Toit
Rounding off the TOP 10 was Phillimon Sebona.
I would like to greet everyone and also like to welcome everyone into my 2019 cycling season. My first race in 2019 was something I will always cherish.
What a way to start the year with a race like the Attakwas. It was the most interesting race to start the year with. Attakwas has always been the race that I have been wishing to race in my cycling career and this year I had a chance to give it my all. I was told that it's hard and I did not want to try to break my motivation coming into this season and to start the race too hard.
I was not sure what the race held in for me, I asked Matthys for advice regarding the route and pace as he has won it twice before. I then kept a steady pace for the race and after the big climbs there was a very long district road that was still a long way from the finish line. So I was keeping my head together and tried to keep pace and stay in my zones.
I think 2019 will be one of the best years regarding improvement for my performance and experience. Much more than ever before. My motivation this year is much higher than the previous years. I never imagined a TOP 10 finish at my very first Attakwas. It is something that I didn't see coming and I am very excited and motivated for the coming season.
I would like to say thank you for all the support and help from everyone. I have good people behind me. ~ Phillimon Sebona
11th Place Overall for Philip Buys.
My training during December went really well and numbers were looking good, but unfortunately everything came to a halt when I started experiencing an unusual pain on my left knee patella. The pain started on the last day of a big block of training and at first I did not think much of it because I thought that It just needed a day or two rest, and that was the plan anyway.
After a few easy days the pain was still there and persisted for two weeks. It seemed to be an overwork injury and needed more rest. It was so frustrating to deal with this sort of uncontrollable thing again. During this time I was in George area with the idea of training in the bigger mountains before Attakwas.
Just a few days before Attakwas, my knee seemed to be better and I could squeeze in a few rides and ended up doing Attakwas as a training ride and to also get what ever UCI points that a could for World champs later in the year. ~ Philip Buys
For Team Pyga Euro Steel and its riders, the following weeks will be dedicated to preparation for the Tankwa Trek, taking place from the 7th - 10th of February in the Koue Bokkeveld region of Ceres.
You will also be able to catch academy rider, Pieter Du Toit at the upcoming first round of the South African Cross-Country Cup in Boschendal, Durbanville.
Keep your eyes peeled on our social media pages for regular updates
Below is our update of what went down at the 2019 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen from our Facebook Page..
On the weekend there were three races that we tackled. The Magalies Monster, The JUMA Urban race and HAKAHANA Enduro.
Saturday we headed to the Magaliesberg that is renowned for its rocky terrain. Both Phillimon Sebona and Pieter Du Toit had to overcome some challenges but finished strong in 3rd and 6th overall.
Sunday Phillimon and Pieter tamed the JUMA Urban race finishing 1st and 5th overall, Philip Buys had his first race in 3months, although not 100% yet its great to have him back on his bike.
With this race we headed to the hometown of PYGA (Howick) and we knew that the local support for our team would be great!
With some of the best trails in SA ahead Julian, Pieter and Kombo set off in the misty conditions. Julian and Pieter impressed me so much, at ages 19 and 20 their fighting spirits are very strong and I look forward to see them progress over the years to come!!! Kombo also started very strong and rode at the front but he had to pull out with back pain, later diagnosed as a kidney infection, heal up soon bud :)
Looking back at the Sani2c I am very excited to the depth of our team. With Philip not ready to race yet we again pulled in Pieter from our Academy to race with Phillimon and wow did they do good.
Unfortunately I fell sick the week of Sani2c and could not go but Philip raised his hand to take over my duties and I think it shows that we not just about racing but that everything is a team effort.
Below some words from the riders and their experience, thank you Graham Daniel for the awesome pictures.
Since falling ill just before Epic I have not been back to my normal healthy self.
What initially seemed like just normal flu symptoms, turned out to be something a bit more serious and complicated.
Being knocked down after my second attempt to get back to training, my coach, Dr Jeroen Swart suspected something more serious and advised that I have blood tests done and specifically test for Coxsackie. Unfortunately the test results came back positive with a Coxsackie B viral infection. This virus attacks the heart and organs and can cause various other complications if managed incorrectly. My biggest concern is Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) which can put me off the bike for up to 6 months or cause permanent damage.
To get over this virus, I need to give my body the required rest to fight the virus. The problem I had was that I kept on giving myself a timeline and wanted to rush getting back to training and this is not the way to deal with such a virus. Getting doctors appointments and waiting for test results take time, so there is no timeline to this process.
My priority now is to get to 100% health again and not to be ready for a specific race. When ever I am 100% healthy, I can look at what would be my next goal.
Things seem to be on the mend with my latest blood results showing that the antibody numbers are about 50% down and hopefully my next heart scan will give us a confident all clear to get back to riding my bike.
I would like to thank all my team mates and sponsors for their positive attitudes and motivation throughout the last few weeks. It is great and reassuring to know that we still have everyones support even through the tough times when things do not go according to plan, this is after all sport and its about working hard at everything that you can control and dealing positively with that which you can not control.
With the dust settled after the gruelling 8 days racing the Cape Epic we look back at the roller coaster of emotions and how it all played out. As you can imagine the unfortunate substitution of Philip was a very difficult decision for our team, we have building up and preparing for this race for a very long time, the decision was the correct one and I want to commend the four riders and the whole crew for embracing the changes and making it a very exciting and successful race to follow.
Thank you for your amazing support as sponsors and backing us all the way. Thank you Euro Steel for the insane truck and setup, it was definitely the best rig at the Epic and helped our athletes and crew a LOT!!! We look forward to the rest of the year travelling across SA in the best possible setup, our new home away from home.
Below the feedback from the riders and their experience at the biggest MTB race in the world :)
With our first Tankwa Trek behind us we can look back on a very successful weekend, thank you Dryland Events for hosting us and making our weekend one to remember. See you again in 2019 :-)
I would like to give a BIG shoutout to Ashley and Tienie from Subaru, in the past two weeks we travelled more than 13000km with 4 different Subarus, everyone safe and sound! Thank you for going the extra mile to accommodate us and making our travels easier, safer and more enjoyable!
With a very deep and competitive international field at Tankwa this was a great test for the legs and all the equipment leading up to Epic!
If you havent seen the recap videos yet below are the links and words from the athletes.Thank You Big Shot Media for the amazing scenes and the help to produce these!
1. Stage 1 - https://web.facebook.com/africanmtbteam/videos/1566332380080558/
2. Stage 2 - https://web.facebook.com/africanmtbteam/videos/1567257429988053/
3. Stage 3 - https://web.facebook.com/africanmtbteam/videos/1568122473234882/
With the current drought in Cape Town we expected nothing less than a very dry, dusty and warm race.
The first XCO race of the season is early and most of our athletes are still in their buildup toward the year, their training is tailored to marathon racing so the short fast XCO always proves to be a good kickstart to their longer intensity training block. Thanks Warren, Chris and Jeremy from SRAM & Cape Cycles for putting up a world class event and supporting our sport!
There was a big international field and the worlds best lined up for the race, it was good day out with a lot of valuable lessons. Our whole team now head for the Tankwa Trek hosted by Dryland Events in Ceres 9-11 February. Be sure to follow our action with Phil & Matthys leading the charge, Julian & Phillimon partnering and Pieter & Kombo representing our academy.
Below words from the athletes:
With the first race weekend behind us we could not ask for a better start to 2018!
Well done Matthys, Phillimon and Julian on your first wins of the season and to Philip for a great ride to third place.
Our academy is also in full swing with Kombo Bere & Pieter Du Toit both finishing third in their categories, we very excited to see what the future holds for them!
Also a big welcome to new sponsors execMOBILE, Thule SA and LOOK Pedals. We look forward to year ahead and thank you for joining the family :)
Below a summary of each riders race and all our 2018 Sponsors.
Matthys Beukes - Attakwas Extreme 1st overall
With a solid few weeks training behind me I knew the hard yards were done and that I would be in for a good result if all goes to plan on race day.
We had the plan of going for the course record so we set off with a fast pace. This quickly split up the field and soon it was myself, Philip, Gert Heyns and Tim Bohme out in front.
We entered the Attakwas valley and on the King of the Mountain climb Gert set a fast pace and I followed.
We crested the climb together but he unfortunately got a puncture soon after and that left me on my own with a good 60km to go.
At this stage I was around 6min ahead of record pace and I drew on past experience when I did this final 60km solo in 2012 to win the race and just settled into a steady rhythm. But sadly once I saw how wet the open roads were I knew that a new course record wouldn't really be possible so I could afford to back off a bit and make sure I reach the finish without any issues.
It was a nice 2hr tempo session, thinking of al the hard work over the off season that now pays off and making it all worth while.
It was also very special knowing our baby daughter Annabel is at her first race and awaiting her dads arrival!
Im really happy with my form at this point but according to my coach Im not even close to where I will be later so Im very excited to see what that will bring later in the year. Thanks to Ruan and Andre for the support before and on race day, our equipment was flawless!
2018 got off to a great start and Im so exited for the rest of the season with all of you guys.
Until next time.
We are at the end of our racing season and what a year its been!
Last year this time we were not even sure if we would race in 2017 not to mention have a team with massive support!!! But by the grace of God and the support of you all I can honestly say that its been a perfect season, thank you! As we go into our off season I know that we are entering a new era of the African MTB Team and we look forward to the doors that will open in 2018. BRING IT ON!!!
The last hurdle to cross was Wines2Whales.
Recently acquired by Cape Epic (PTY) Ltd, FNB Wines2Whales is a three-day mountain bike stage race held in the Western Cape, South Africa. Founded in 2009, the annual event hosts four thousand riders competing in two-person teams over 70-80km per day. The race format consists of three consecutive, separate, but identical events over ten days (named ‘Adventure’, ‘Ride’ and ‘Race’) – allowing riders to choose the appropriate option that suits their level of competitiveness. With entries selling out each year, FNB Wines2Whales is regarded as South Africa’s premier three-day mountain bike stage race.