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.
Matthys Beukes - 1st Overall
I was really looking forward to lining up for the final event of the year and knowing we were in good shape made it even more exciting as this would be our final chance to make use of all the hard work we’ve put in. I won the event in 2011 and 2012 but this would be my first time back and this would definitely be the most competitive field ever lined up at W2W.
Stage 1 didn’t go according to plan when Sauser and Looser ran away from us going up the old ox wagon trail, I just couldn’t keep that pace but lesson learnt… Next time I’ll come prepared for some hike a bike too.
Stage 2 was our chance to make up the 50sec gap to them with a route that would suit us better. We were in a commanding position with a 2min lead over the Swiss pair when we took a wrong turn and lost close to 1.5min with 20km to go. We finished the stage 44sec in front of them which gave us 6 seconds to close on the final day.
Stage 3 went exactly according to plan. We rode smart until the 40km mark where we started working them over on some sandy climbs and after a few efforts the elastic snapped and we quickly checked out winning the stage by 2 minutes and ending 2017 exactly the way the script would have been written, textbook!
2017 has been incredible and with your support and backing we could just focus on doing our best on the bike in training and in racing and I believe we have taken the next step. Now its just a matter of planing well and taking it to the next level, there’s no reason why we can’t stand on the top step in some of the worlds biggest races!
Thanks again so much for all your support!
Im really excited to see what we can achieve in 2018.
Philip Buys - 1st Overall
To end off the season with the win at Wines2Whales is really special and also great for the transition into off season and motivation going into the new year.
On stage one we seemed to have everything under control, until we had to get off our bikes and run up the ox-wagon trail. Christof and Konny managed to run a one minute gap into us that we could not close before the finish.
Stage two we knew we had to put them under pressure where ever we could on the trails. Konny got a puncture and we were in the virtual lead until we took a wrong turn on route which still left us in second place after the stage.
With only six seconds separating us there was still a huge battle to fight on the final day. With the fairly flat and fast route there would not be much opportunity for us to get away. We had two spots where we could punch them. Our first unsuccessful attack was on the high speed downhill into Botrivier where we tried to force a mistake onto them.
The next mark would be at around 40km when we hit the last major drag. We put in a major effort here and finally managed to crack them to solo to the finish with over a minute lead.
Thanks to Ruan, Matt, Julian, Matthys and Philly for contributing to a positive and motivating team environment over the weekend. Thanks to all our sponsor representatives for the encouragement, support and belief in us. This is what keeps us from giving up.
This was a good season and all thanks to each and every sponsor ensuring a stable team environment for us to flourish in and to our Heavenly Father for protection from injuries and illness.
Phillimon Sebona - 7th Overall
I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one first.
The first day was a good day but we had a bit of bad luck, getting a flat tyre just right at the top of the hill as we started to go downhill but I worked hard with Julian to try not to loose a bigger gap on time.
Day two was one of the good days with no mechanical issues. It was just very fast pace and a lot of single track in the trail, the was not a lot of freewheeling a lot the race at the back was requiring a lot of group pacing.
The last day was the fasted race, more fun but truly I have learnt in the pro level there is a lot of pushing and more aggressiveness. Our team put everyone under pressure, I still have a lot off training that I need to do, mostly single track training
I did see that my weakest point currently is mostly on the single track and I need to learn on working very well with Julian about our peace, it was not as controlled and good as it should have been this weekend. I have learnt a lot from him, at some point I was dropping from his wheel on the down hills but it is because of my pedalling style on the down hills.
For everyone who helped on putting this team together all I can say is thank you very much BUT the best is yet to come.
Julian Jessop - 7th Overall
The first twenty minutes of this race is all up hill and with such a strong field present, I knew it was going to be really hard. We went over the top in the chasing group and were feeling good. On the descent I was riding alongside another rider, who hit a rock and that rolled into my line and unfortunately caused my rear wheel to puncture. Due to the puncture being so close to the beginning, when we got back on our bikes we were behind lots of riders. This meant a long day of chasing ahead of us. We kept a constant pace and managed to pass teams one by one. And when we crossed the line I was slightly surprised with how we caught up to 10th place overall.
After a lot of traffic in the first few kilometres we finally regained contact with the lead group after the first climb. We sat in the lead group until the first major climb where the lead group split. We were again in the chasing group and we felt strong. Just before the water point we put some pressure on the front of the chasing group and the group whittled down from four teams to two teams. We stayed in this two team break until the water point where I had a crash with another rider whist taking a bottle. Unfortunately, I hurt my knee when I crashed and it took a while for me to get back on the bike and then for my knee to start putting down some watts again. In this crash we unfortunately lost three positions. But after a few minutes I could start riding hard again and on the next big climb we managed to get back to where we were. We rode in this chasing two-man group until the last switchback climb where we dropped off. We then tried to limit our damage to the finish. We got caught by another team in the last kilometres and unfortunately, we lost the sprint to them so we ended in 8th place on the stage.
We managed to stay with the elite lead group the longest on this day. I think we had both recovered well and today we were feeling good. At the start of the rough downhill pass we were just off the back of the lead group. Whilst chasing down on this pass, unfortunately, my chain fell off my chain ring. I stopped to put it back on and in this time we again lost three positions. We went back into chase mode and set a hard pace. At forty kilometres there was a nasty grass hill and we caught the riders who had passed us on this hill. We then went straight into a sandy single track climb and we managed to attack the group and get a gap on them. At the top of the climb it was all in for the last fifteen kilometres of the race. We set a hard tempo and surprised ourselves by actually closing down the gap to 5th place team, BCX. Unfortunately, we couldn’t catch them and we finished in 6th place only a few seconds behind 5th.
Overall, we finished in 7th place on GC and I had an awesome weekend with the team! I am looking forward to the 2018 season of racing but first I’m looking forward to a little break before the preparations begin.