As most of you know we were in Sabie this past weekend for the National Marathon, but also represented in Hilton KZN for the first Provincial XCO race.
With news of cyclone Dineo hitting the Mpumalanga province we were geared for heavy rain and expected a lot of mud. While the rain stopped on Friday the course was shortened for the race on Saturday and Sunday cutting out a lot of singletrack. Kombo represented the team at the Provincial XCO.
Words from the team below:
Matthys Beukes (10th day1, DNF day2)
The National Marathon Series in Sabie was one I was looking forward to knowing I’ve got good shape I can put to use on the big climbs. However my weekend was spoiled before it began as I got a nasty bee sting in the face during training on Friday. I didn't think much of it at first but on Saturday morning the swelling was so bad that it affected my breathing and sight. Not much I could do about it and decided to give it a go and see how I fare on the first big climb and take it from there. Even though I didn't feel great my power was good and I crested the King of the Mountain in 2nd place securing some good points. On the very wet and slippery descent I had to back down a lot in order to make sure I stay safe. From there it was just a matter of getting to the finish without issues and save the legs for day 2.
The plan on Day 2 was to help and try get Philip into 2nd overall but on the first climb it was very clear that my breathing had gotten a bit worse and there was no way I could stick to the front group and support Phil. I decided to call it a day, reducing the risks and getting an extra day rest before the first XC National this coming Saturday.
Once again some bad luck but I think both me and Phil are showing signs of super form coming into the last bit of preparation for Cape Epic, super excited!
Philip Buys: (3rd day1, 3rd day2 - 3rd overall)
After the race in Grabouw my training went all according to plan and training figures showed steady improvement.
Ashburten National MTB Series race #2 in Sabie was a problem free race for me and a good confidence booster and indication of where my shape is currently. We had the opportunity to measure ourselves against Epic race favourites Karl Platt and Urs Huber. Day one started off with a hour long climb, where it was great to see that Matthys and I could both stay at the front of the race. The rest of the day was all about keeping it wide and letting it slide. The trails were ridiculously slippery. On this first day I finished third behind Urs Huber.
With day two being shorter (50km) and time gaps close, we were in for a fast day. When you see all the pro riders suddenly doing proper warmup routines 30min before the start and Karl having a Red Bull on the start line, then you know its on! Early in the race we were a bunch of 4 strong riders (Karl, Urs, Gert and I) chasing the lone leader. With about 20km to go when Nico Bell joined us, my tactics changed a bit from trying to get away from Urs and take 2nd overall, to defending my 3rd spot. It was up to Nico to try and get away from us, as he was lying in 4th spot overall. Finally it came down to a 5 man sprint where I managed to get 3rd again and take the final overall podium position.
The next race for us this weekend will be even more intense as we shift to the XCO lap racing format for the first SA XCO Cup race in Rhebokskloof. I am sure this will ad some extra explosiveness to our riding.
Kombo Bere: (5th overall, 3rd u/23)
Greetings, competed at the first Kzn xco race over the weekend. My thoughts towards the race, in terms of fitness levels and progress are very much positive.
Had the opportunity to either compete at marathon level in Sabie or get into the xco race routine here in KZN. The cross country race proved to be the best option, with the first SA XCO cup race just a week away.
The under 23 and elite riders all started at once with seeded riders in the front. Track conditions made it very difficult to make up places as we raced in between the trees and narrow paths. At the end of the first lap finally got into a racing rhythm. Slowly but surely making my way up the ranks. Happy to say form is really looking great considering its so early in the season. Lap times got quicker every single time with a lot more consistency. At the end of 7 laps I finished 5th overall and 3rd in the under 23 category. Looking forward to the next xco event in kzn and some good seeding this time. Happy to say the xco was great preparation for this week's xco race in capetown.
Have a blessed week to all sponsors and the newly found family.