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.
Steadily getting ready to Trek through the Tankwa.
As the first stage race in the South African Mountain Bike season approaches our team, we had a chat with Philip Buys about his mental and physical preparation going into the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen. The event is also adding a stage to last years event.
"I look forward to taking part in Tankwa Trek as one of the first races of my season.
Last year was my first time taking part in this event, so I now know a bit more of what to expect, and that always helps when planning your race strategy."
Photograph by Zoon Cronje for the ZC Marketing Consulting Team at the 2018 edition of the Tankwa Trek.
For our team, the strategy has always been critical. Especially as unplanned circumstances had shown up in last years season. To conquer the extreme terrain while battling local and international riders is going to be quite the test before the Absa Cape Epic. Both our teams are entered and ready to put their all into the 4-day event in the mountains of the Koue Bokkeveld.
"I had one-speed bump in my preparation for this event just before Attakwas. I sustained a knee injury during training and was forced to stay off the bike for two weeks. I did, however, use this setback to spend some more time on my gym work.
My knee issue seems to have been resolved now, and I had a solid few weeks on the bike again, so I am excited to test my form against some of the best riders in the world." ~ Philip Buys
We are excited to put ourselves to the test after the announcement of the strong field of riders that have entered for the event. We are ready to claim victory on home soil.
Philip Buys will be pairing up with the 2019 Momentum Health Attakwas Champion Matthys Beukes. We have also entered a second team which will consist of Phillimon Sebona and young gun Pieter du Toit.
Good luck to everyone in their final preparation towards the event.
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 :)