2019 Sabie Classic - York Timbers Sporting Grounds.
As we arrived in Sabie on Thursday we unpacked, unwinded and the guys went for a ride around town. "Ulusaba" which means "fearful river", which Sabie's name is derived from, not only perfectly describes the Sabie river that was once full of Nile crocodiles. It also has a significant effect when the idea of battling up the long and unpredictable Mamba climb comes to mind; something all participants at the Classic could relate too.
For Matthys Beukes, this all came to relief as he calmly crossed the finish line on Saturday, claiming victory almost three minutes ahead of teammate Philip Buys. "Knowing the conditions in Sabie during this time of year, going into the event I was a bit nervous. The terrain in Sabie could become very unpredictable, especially after some rain.
Sabie is also the place where I had my most serious crash in my career. I broke my shoulder, hand and foot in a split second. Ever since that day I have been nervous going into the Sabie Classic. From a more positive perspective, it is also the race where I did my first ever National Cup as a Sub Junior.
The weeks leading up to the event was good, and I knew that my form was excellent. Seeing that the Mamba was in the first 30 kilometres, I knew that the race would suit me well. I planned to put in a hard effort going up the climb, possibly creating a gap that I could use as "risk management" going down the rugged descent, creating less room for error.
I knew the final 20km would be hard racing and that I could put in the last move there once everyone is a bit more fatigued so risking it on the downhill would've been pointless. That was the plan, but things don't always go according to the method and I had to adapt.
All in all, I'm happy with my ride, and it was great to see my teammates do so well, Cape Epic here we come!
Till then, stay safe." - Matthys Beukes
As the front of the race approached the tail end of the Mamba, Philip Buys leapt into action creating a gap of about twenty seconds on the chasing group. As the Mamba was staring Philip and Matthys straight in the eyes, Philip managed to defeat the Mamba first, blissfully being titled "King of the Mountain".
"I could see the gap to Philip was coming down and decided to bide my time and see how things unfold as we approach the fifty-kilometre mark. After a few more ups and downs, twists and turns we were together and riding at a comfortable pace nicely towards the first and only tech zone at about 60 kilometres. Entering the harder parts of the final twenty, I put in a couple of efforts on the climbs and later found myself on my own with 15km to go." - Matthys Beukes
Unfortunately, right before we started our Trek across the Koue Bokkeveld two weeks ago, Philip Buys came across some unusual medical issue which has ever since caused problems during his riding, especially where he needs to sharpen up and concentrate.
"I have an eye infection, so this combined with the slippery terrain made navigating the downhills quite the challenge for me. I didn't want to risk crashing, so I tried to ride safer towards the end of the race. On the bottom of the descent, Matthys had already caught up with me and dropped me on the flat roads approximately twenty kilometres from the finish line. I am delighted with the 2nd place. Especially finishing right behind my Absa Cape Epic teammate, cashing in some useful UCI points."
The weekend also felt like a fun “team building” exercise with all of us camping it out in the Euro Steel team truck. The whole setup feels well “oiled”, and everyone seems to work together seamlessly. This weekend was a good exercise leading up to the Epic, and I'm sure that this past weekend will keep us motivated in the final preparation." - Philip Buys
For Phillimon Sebona, the race didn't correctly play along after he lost his water bottle on the first significant downhill section. The Mamba drained his energy without a sufficient amount of nutrition, especially when battling against world-class marathon athletes. Luckily Phillimon made it over the climb without losing too much time.
"Things started turning sour quickly after that. In the last 30 km, I managed to break my rear wheel. I exchanged my wheel at the tech zone ten kilometres after it got damaged.
These unfortunate events led to me losing vital energy, and I started cramping in the final two k's. All and all the race was a good test, and I enjoyed it nevertheless. I want to thank everyone who has been supporting me." - Phillimon Sebona
Young gun Pieter Du Toit never seems to disappoint with his performance. "Overall, the Sabie Classic was a great race. Going down on Thursday, sleeping in the team truck and spending time with the guys was a great experience.
The race started quite hard after Matthys and Phillip put in quite an effort on the first climb. Philip gained a few seconds on us on the first significant descent and right after regrouping Philip attacked the group of four up the Mamba, where Matthys followed leaving me behind like a rock.
As I crested the climb, I rode with Phillimon lying fifth and sixth places respectively. Then the fun part started, the long slippery and rocky downhills that Sabie is known for over the years. After fighting the slippery downhill terrain, I was out of fuel and started to feel fatigued. The final few kilometres of the race was brutal, but I kept my head and made it to the finish line in fifth place. I am super happy with the position that I managed to finish it. Very well done to Matthys for taking the win and Philip with his second-place finish.
As a team, we are very excited to be going into the Cape Epic on a positive note. We have in the past three races come across unforeseen events, made mistakes and also claimed victory. We are fortunate with the outcome, learnt valuable lessons and we are looking forward to making our mark amongst the worlds top teams in the Mountain Biking scene in three weeks.
Till then, good luck to all the athletes in preparation for the eight-day event. #thisisgoingtobeepic
2019 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen.
As a new week starts, our 2019 Tankwa Trek comes to an end with everyone who partook safe and resting.
For our riders, the four stages were unique, and each had their personality. The rocky terrain provided extraordinary challenges racing up some of our countries toughest climbs and most technical descents, a perfect partner to the preparation for the eight-day Absa Cape Epic. As the 2019 season started, we teamed up with some new partners, and this ensured that everyone had to adjust to previous conditions and routines.
The Tankwa is always a highlight for our team as a whole, as it officially marks the start to our stage race season being the first multi-day stage race in South Africa. It also ensures that our two teams start forming a strong dynamic and get to face challenges before the rest of the season approaches. We had a post-race chat with our riders to get more depth from their perspective.
Photograph by Milan de Beer for Mediatic Studios
For Matthys Beukes, the 2019 Momentum Health Attakwas champion, the past couple of days did not go according to plan for the team as they had to endure setbacks over the final three stages of the Tankwa.
"Although these occurrences are out of our control, we can, fortunately, look at our performance on the bike, and I am incredibly positive about how we rode our bikes throughout the four stages.
We did not win the war, but we got the opportunity to fight it out against some of the worlds best mountain bike riders. Barring in all of the bad luck we had to face, I believe that we performed well as a team. Overall, there are much more positive's to take from the past week, and I genuinely look forward to the hard work that lies ahead in preparation for The Untamed African Mountain Bike Race."
Anticipation grew around Philip Buys as onlookers kept wondering about his form. Well, there was no better way to prove it than on the #MerinoMonster, definitely one of South Africa's most robust and most extended climbs. Philip and Matthys, riding with the numbers 2-1 and 2-2 led a fantastic attack and safely secured their spot as the Kings of the Mountain with Team Bulls claiming the second spot over the mountain. With this tremendous performance, they blew us all away on the 3rd stage and had slain the Monster, ensuring that Philip is on form and ready for the upcoming ABSA Cape Epic.
Photograph by Milan de Beer for Mediatic Studios
"Tankwa was rough and brutal, but a great reminder of how hard stage racing can be on the bike and body. We were dealt with many blows during the event but luckily got the chance to test new equipment. More personally, the event was a mental and physical test, but my shape was the most significant consideration for the start of the season.
My confidence has received a boost after the past few days of racing in the Koue Bokkeveld, after having a huge setback due to a knee injury leading up to the Attakwas. In general, my shape is looking good, but I would still love to be stronger and faster going into the Epic. Luckily we have a few weeks left to add some extra power before the Epic kicks off.
The whole team pulled their weight during the incredible event, and it was an excellent rehearsal for the 2019 racing season."
Apart from the four riders making up the professional team, we had five guys battling it out behind the scenes to make sure the riders and their bikes perform in optimal condition. The race venue also supplied an excellent atmosphere for all the teammates before and after each stage. We are thankful for Dryland Event Management for again putting together a successful race. They exceeded everyone's expectations with the management of the race and venue.
Photograph by Milan de Beer for Mediatic Studios
"Consistently racing for four days is always something to get excited about. Add this to a large international field, and you are sure to have an exciting and top class event with intense challenges.
I will never forget the first stage due to the scorching heat that we had to endure at 3 in the afternoon. The stage kicked off, and we received an average temperature of 40 degrees. I was quite excited to cross the finish in the top 20. I then went to bed at an early hour and had a good rest before the second stage.
After a successful start on the second day, Matthys unfortunately got a puncture and I exchanged wheels with Matthys ensuring that he could continue fighting on. After myself and Phillimon repaired the damaged wheel, we got on our bikes and fought back only a few minutes later finding that our A team punctured for a second time. We luckily had a tube and could insert it into the wheel before setting off to the finish." ~ Pieter Du Toit
Entering the 3rd stage, our riders were well rested and had a lot of motivation after significant setbacks on the 2nd stage. They started their day at Kaleo Guest Farm that for the duration of our stay played race village and home to our team and Euro Steel Truck. The #MerinoMonster is well known for being one of the toughest climbs to do as a mountain biker. Philip and Matthys broke away from the pack and claimed the King of the Mountain title, right before being caught by the Bulls pair of Urs Huber and Simon Stiebjahn.
Photograph by Milan de Beer for Mediatic Studios
Our team then joined the Bulls team on the way home, but unfortunately, both teams took a wrong turn. After a long talk to race officials and the commissar, the ruling was made that the results would remain as per finish. This resulted in a 6th place for the pair.
"I would like to say thank you to everyone who has given our team the amazing opportunity to partake in the Tankwa. I am also fortunate that I was able to keep up with the faster riders, as last year I was unable to do so. This opportunity has grown my confidence and has also shown me that my form and skill has improved dramatically in a year.
A massive thank you to my amazing partner Pieter who rode with me. Thank you to the team for always understanding the situations we have to endure as professional riders, to my coach who walked every step of the way with me and to Ruan who still find a way for everything to come together perfectly." ~ Phillimon Sebona
We are excited about this coming year, and our targets are set. During the preparation for the upcoming events, we'll be ensuring that we are ready for every race day ahead of us in the season ahead.
SA Cup Round 1 - Bloemendal Wine Estate
As the years racing is getting underway, we are excited to be racing in multiple disciplines within the mountain biking scene.
After the Momentum Health Attakwas, in which we took the overall victory with Matthys Beukes finishing in just over 4 minutes in front of Gert Heyns, our team was off to a great start. Surprisingly, our young Academy Rider, Pieter Du Toit blew us away with his amazing performance. He rounded off the podium with a 5th position, claiming victory over his U/23 category competitors by over 11 minutes.
Photograph by Milan de Beer for Mediatic Studios, taken 200m before waterpoint 3.
After the Attakwas, Pieter spent about two weeks in the Western Cape riding with professional rider and teammate Matthys Beukes in the George region.
" I spent two weeks in George training with Matthys, which was overall a good block before the week leading up to the SA Cup in Bloemendal. The weeks spent with Matthys helped me with the lead up to the race.
The week leading up to the race, I tapered my training to ensure that my body received the rest it needed. On the Friday before the event, I came down to Durbanville to do course practice, and I loved the track and how it was laid out. Upon track practice, I approached the course as always ensuring that I leave no room for error."
As a well-known mountain bike rider, Pieter knows that line choice and pre-race tactics are crucial to a successful race and leaves smaller room for error.
"The morning of course practice, I rode my usual four laps and there-after I rested sufficiently before race day. On Saturday morning I headed over to support the younger riders before heading back to the guest house where I stayed for the race period. At the Guesthouse I got myself, my Pyga Stage and other essentials ready for the gun. I then warmed up for about 40 minutes, which for me is a bit longer than usual."
Photograph by Craig Kolesky during the SA Cup in Bloemendal.
"I had an excellent start for the first day of racing. Upon starting the race, I felt quite confident in the intense international field. On the one section, I took a drop and unfortunately, my one cleat came out of the pedal. I landed straight on my saddle leading to it breaking on impact. Luckily I brought along an extra saddle and could replace it in the tech zone thanks to many supporters.
After losing many places, I still felt great and fought back finishing 17th overall and 2nd U/23 — a great result due to the unforeseen events happening in the race. I look forward to racing the upcoming XC races and very fortunate to gain some valuable points, climbing the ranks in South Africas racing scene. "
As the Tankwa Trek approaches, Pieter will team up with Phillimon Sebona. They have been a usual pair since last seasons Absa Cape Epic, and we cannot wait to see them in action behind Matthys and Philip on Thursday.