XCO Champs - Mankele, Ashburton National Marathon - Van Gaalen, Nissan Trailseeker - Wellington, Eston Classic - KZN
With three weeks of flatbox racing its been a very busy time for us.
As most of you know the family has grow with two addiotional members. Welcome Julian and Phillimon! We look forward to the road ahead and to see you grow with us. More news in this soon :-)
Below some words from each rider over the past 3 weeks of racing and a recap link of the Van Gaalens race:
Van Gaalens - https://www.facebook.com/africanmtbteam/videos/1393769234003541
SA XCO Champs, Mankele - 3rd
After the first lap I found myself around 10 seconds behind Philip and Alan in 3rd spot.
Behind me a group of 3 riders were working together to catch me. Soon I was joined by Jan Withaar who was really strong and we rode together until I gapped him on the final lap’s last climb.
Knowing the conditions and course didn’t really suit me I was happy to finish in 3rd place.
Ashburton National Marathon, Van Gaalen - 1st
With Julian and Phillimon joining the team we were excited to have all 5 riders on the start and boy did it look great!
We made the racing hard from the start and soon it was myself, Phil and Brendon Davids in the lead. With 15km to go up the final climb I put in a little acceleration close to the top and pinned the following downhill, taking some big risks.
I had a descent gap of around 40sec and kept a high but steady pace to the finish. In the last 3km I started running out of energy and could see Brendon catching up. Had the line been 100m further I would not have made it and won by 1 second.
Im super happy to have pulled it off but I had to dig so deep that it actually wasn’t that much fun, then… Looking back now,I loved it!
Nissan Trailseeker WP, Wellington - 1st
I made sure to put everyone in the red from the start. One by one they dropped off and by the halfway mark it was myself and Gert Heyns in the lead.
On a medium sized climb I noticed Gert was on the edge and started turning the screws. Just 10 minutes later and I had a 2 minute gap and set about a fast but steady pace.
It felt great riding out in the open on amazing trails in a beautiful backdrop and everything just clicking together. It was at that point that I reflected on how well everything has gone this year... Planing, training, equipment, support and racing. Everything just coming together perfectly with little exception, I really enjoyed the ride I had and felt like I was riding a wave of perfection into the finish. Just super grateful for everything.
In the end I won by 6 minutes and ended this racing block of 5 weeks with 3 wins and a 3rd place. More importantly for me though is the fact that I have so much fun and the more I ride the more I love it.
I've got 3 weeks with no racing now but that means I'll put in some solid training to prepare for the final but very busy part of the season.
Until then, thumbs up!
SA XCO Champs, Mankele - 2nd
National Cross country champs at Mankele was a fun weekend away.
With Alan focusing only on Cross Country racing, Matthys and I knew that he would be the man to beat on race day, so we had a plan to wear him out, but his intensity on the first two laps had us on the back foot.
Second and third was the order of the day for Matthys and I.
Ashburton National Marathon, Van Gaalen - 4th
A rough and technical route, just the way we love it. With 5 Team PYGA Euro Steel riders cruising around, I think we also made quite an impression and it is motivating to have the new recruits onboard.
After about 15km we saw that the challenge of the day would come from Brendon Davids. Brendon, Matthys and I go away from the rest and we had the upper hand being two against one. Matthys got a gap and I had a free ride on Brendon’s wheel. Unfortunately at around 29km I got a rear flat and had to stop for a wheel change at the tech zone.
I crossed the line in fourth place after over cooking it a bit in my attempt to chase back.
I will take a slightly longer break than usual now for the next two weeks before prep starts for the last few big stage races. I do not have any races planned for August, so it’s the ideal time to take a breather.
Ashburton National Marathon, Van Gaalen - DNF
The race was very exciting and the start was very fast.
At the first water point was sitting in about 20th place and top five in the under23 category. Julian who had been leading the under23 category by a few minutes unfortunately had a puncture, I managed to link up with him in the tighter and rockier single tracks. We tried to repair the damage, with little success. I handed him my rear wheel so he could chase the podium places which were a few minutes up the road.
I managed to fix his tyre having dropped only three places. Got back on my bike and began to chase but unfortunately the wheel blew of again, this time couldn't repair it. With 30kms to go that was the end of my race.
Lots of work lies ahead but very keen to shape up and rise to the standard. Very exciting time of my life very keen for the road ahead. Have a blessed week 🙏🏾
Ashburton National Marathon, Van Gaalen - 7th Senior, 12th overall
It was a great race this weekend at Van Gaalens. I really learned a lot especially what to eat in the lead-up and pre race day training makes a big difference in how you feel on race day.
From Phillip I learned what type of training I need to do the day before and what to eat in the morning before the race, I usually just ate Nik Naks and brown bread.
I still need to learn how to drive the pace in the bunch but looking forward to work with the team. This weekend a saw how important it is to have a good position in the bunch, the pace was very high and my position was wrong. I look forward to the hard work ahead and also to have a good training plan as I have never had a coach.
Ashburton National Marathon, Van Gaalens - 4th U23
Lining up alongside Phillip Buys and Matthys Beukes, wearing the same kit and being on the same bikes was very exciting! I was super excited for my first race with Team PYGA Euro Steel and was loooking forward to a good one!
I crested the first hard just behind the lead group. At this point I was leading in the U23 category.
I chose the wrong line around a corner and hit a rock with my rear wheel, which unfortunately resulted in a puncture. As soon as I got the wheel up and ready my teammate, Kombo came past and gave me his rear wheel. Thank you very much Kombo - it was very kind and selfless of you and I really appreciate your sacrifice of your own race for mine!
I tried to fight back but unfortunately the damage was too much and I came home with 4th in the U23 category.
It was very disappointing that my first race went like this, but as Matthys told me; "this is what makes the good days better."
Eston Classic KZN - 2nd overall
The Eston Classic is always one of the bigger events on the local KZN calendar.
I crested the top of the major climb a few seconds off the back of Stuart Marais and Andrew Hill. However, I made this time back rather quickly on the technical single track descent which followed.
Andrew got a front wheel puncture a few kilometres away from the finish. This left Stuart and I to play a bit of cat-and-mouse.
The last 100m of the race is on a field but just before that is two very important turns. I was feeling really good for the sprint and I was confident that I would be able to hold back Stuart who was behind me.
But then, a rider in the 40km was in the middle of the track, right in front of us. We both called for track and the rider turned and saw this. The rider tried to outsprint us and went around the corner to fast for his ability and crashed. By this time I was right on him and I had nowehere to go but onto the floor. I crashed with sight of the finish line. Stuart rode into us but managed to stay on his bike. By the time I got onto my feet, Stuart was already 20m ahead and there was nothing I could do.
I finished 2nd place and all I could have thought about was; ‘what could have been.’