This weekend we were down in KZN for the very popular Berg & Bush 3 day stage race. Our first stage race together with Julian and Phillimon.
We can’t be happier with how the weekend played out! Winning this race was a perfect example of great teamwork.
Thank you Julian and Phillimon for sacrificing your possible overall podium, they were rewarded with a 3rd place on the last day only 30 secondes behind Phil and Matthys, this proved how strong they were!
Below words from the 4 riders.
Matthys Beukes - 1st overall, 2 stage wins and 1st Spionkop Hillclimb
Stage 1 went according to plan, riding smart and out of trouble for the first 80k where the racing really started. We were in front with 2 other teams and was getting ready for a final assault at opening up a gap when disaster struck...
Me and Phil collided on probably the smoothest part of the route (amateur hour) and went down hard. My front wheel exploded in the process and we for a moment thought it was game over but saw Julian and Philiamon chasing towards us and instantly offering us one of their wheels... Legends! Off we went to do damage control over the last 10km and only lost 1.5min on the winners so thanks to Julian and Philly we were still in it!
Stage 2 would be a full on assault on the GC leaders, Team NAD to try and make up the time. With a flattish 60km it wouldn't be easy as they could just sit on our wheels but we will always at least give it our best shot.
At the halfway mark luck turned our way as they flatted. We rode so well over the remaining 30km and finished 6.5min ahead of 2nd place.
Spioenkop Hill Climb:
Ive done my homework for this short (4min) once off dash for cash hill climb in the weeks leading up to it.
I knew it was going to hurt like hell as I predicted an average watts of 530 for the win, it was worth it and I learned a lot in those 4 minutes and was really happy to have won it.
Stage 3 would almost be like a recovery ride with no one willing to race hard and we just rode out of trouble and kept it safe. The racing kicked off when we hit Spionkop and with an incredible descent down to the finish 15km later we were happy to just enjoy the ride down. In the last 2km us and Team NAD diced it out for the stage win with us just beating them to the line.
For me it was such a special weekend and a massive thank you to everyone in the team and around the team for making it such a memorable experience! I say it every time I get back home to Michele but really, it is a huge privilege to be a part of such a group of people!
A few days at home again to get ready for the final round of the National Marathon Series in wich me and Phil are in a tight battle for top honors, exciting stuff!
Picture: Doug Bird
Phillimon Sebona - 7th overall, 3rd stage 3
About this weekend, it was one of the best weekends I had down in kzn racing in a team race.
It was a great experience and the best feeling to be part of the team, I learned a lot.
Things that I was afraid of doing like staying out of my comfort zone I managed to do and also to wait for the right time to race hard.
I was so grateful to race with Julian, he is such a strong partner. I never had a partner who can ride with me like that, I have learned that he could push me to ride right infront of the bunch and keep me there. In the front and i can see its easier especially when there are accelerations.
I was so happy to help the team to win the over all I feel thank full, I could see our role and am still impressed. With Julian riding on the front rim and I have learned that even during the big events we must not stay far from Phillip & Matthys so that we can assist them as quick as possible so that the team can always win the GC .
I can see that my training have changed my level of racing and I am way better than I used to be. On stage 2 I suffered a lot, I didn't eat the correct food in the morning and learned that i must not inter change the food during racing time.
One of my wishes was to come in the finish with our leaders, but i can see that coming! This weekend it was close. I would like to thank everyone who is helping us and making this dream coming true ..cant wait to start at Kaapsehoop
Picture: Em Gatland
Philip Buys - 1st overall, 2 stagewins and 3rd Spionkop Hillclimb
Berg & Bush was a great event with awesome riding and a real team effort.
On stage one Matthys and I had a mishap where both of us ended up on the floor after touching handlebars. We were lucky to get up with only a broken front wheel.
In my mind it was basicly race over for us, but as we looked down the road behind us, along came Phillimon and Julian to the rescue. What could have been a 10min time loss changed into a quick wheel change that kept us in the race for the win. Thanks to Julian and Philimon for sacrificing a possible GC spot.
On stage two we were on the attack right from the start to crack team NAD or force a mistake on them. Unfortunately for them they had a puncture halfway through the stage and we managed to take the GC lead with over 5 min.
Saturday afternoon we had the Spionkop Summit battle for a 20k prize. Matthys was super strong and just dominated this special stage to stock up on more nappies.
The last day was all about keeping it smooth and safe to ensure we take the overall win. Philly and Julian rode really impressive to stick with us incase we pick up any problems and also managed to finish the last stage in 3rd place.
To race in this area of Berg & Bush was really special, because it is close to the farm where I grew up and it was great to have my wife and family from the surrounding area there to support us. It felt like a home ground race.
Picture: Em Gatland
Julian Jessop - 7th overall, 5th Spionkop hillclimb, 3rd stage 3
I was super excited to race this past weekend; it was to be my first stage race with Team PYGA Euro Steel, my first stage race with Phillimon Sebona, and my first time at the Berg and Bush Race! I met up with the rest of the team late Thursday evening and enjoyed a great team dinner with lots of laughs – immediately I picked up on how relaxed Matthys and Phillip were ahead of the race.
Day 1 - 99km.
The first 30km was neutralised due to the weather conditions, mud and heavy mist. On the last climb at 75km the major breaks were made. There was a front group of 3 and we were lying 4th and had sight of the leaders. Unfortunately, at 10km to go Phil and Matthys had a crash resulting in a damaged front wheel. I gave my front wheel to Matthys and we put a tube in the damaged wheel. The tube popped soon so I ended up riding on only the rim through the single track to the finish. ( I was super impressed (and relieved) with how strong the Deed rim was to hold out with me riding rocky single track on it. We lost a lot of time but managed to limit Phil and Matthys’ time loss so an overall successful day one.
Day 2 – 60km
Within the first kilometre, Phil and Matthys were applying the pressure on the race. I felt really strong and went over the top in the chasing group. Unfortunately, the early pace was hurting Phillimon so I dropped back to help pace him back to the chasing group. I was super impressed with how Phillimon never eased off and was always up to riding hard on the descents and flats to catch up. And with his determination we caught the chasing group just before the third major climb of the day. With 5km to go the chasing group had sight of Team NAD, who were lying in 2nd place on the stage, and attacks started to happen. With Phillimon tucked behind me we went on the charge to limit our losses and managed to cross the line in fifth with not much time loss to 2nd place on the stage. Another very successful day!
Spionkop Hill Climb
The race from the base of the Spionkop to the summit definitely lived up to the reputation of 5 minutes of suffering. Up the first kick Matthys unleashed a series of relentless attacks. I crested the first kick a few meters behind Matthys, Nico and Wessel. I closed the gap along the flat and then was trying to psyche myself as much as possible for the next kick which would be just over a minute long in time. Around the corner and Matthys went off again, causing the rest of us to follow. I kept up with the initial attack but then my legs started to slow down and on the final corner I blew up. I crossed the line in 5th position with nothing but the taste of blood in my throat.
Day 3 – 50km
When I woke up, my first thought was how my legs were still feeling the after effects from the previous evening’s hill climb. Phil and Matthys were once again the protagonists and setting the pace up the first single track climb. They kept a hard pace and at the first water point they were off the front with NAD by about 15m. Phillimon who was an absolute beast on this day, was having none of that and surged around the rest of the riders to join with the leaders and I followed his wheel. The final hurt of the race was going up Spionkop. Going up the first kick, I was taking some shots as I was still feeling yesterday’s efforts up here. Cresting the first kick I was about 10s behind the lead group of Phil and Matthys, NAD and Phillimon. It stayed like this to the top of the climb. Phillimon eased off just before the summit and I re-joined him. As I am a faster descender I led the charge on the downhill to try catch back up to the leaders. I think we did manage to close it slightly. We crossed the line in 3rd place on the stage! Both Phillimon and I were super stoked on how today went and on how the stage race as a whole went!
Huge thanks to Ruan, Matt, Andre and Shaun for all their help during the event to enable us to perform at our best! This weekend was so rad to be a part of the Team!
Picture: Doug Bird