Beukes, Buys embrace Sani2c favourites tag
Having set alight the recent Absa Cape Epic as Team PYGA Eurosteel, Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys have taken on the potential favourites tag at this year's KAP Sani2c with confidence, as they build up to the three-day race that will run from 11 to 13 May.
Last year, Beukes won the Sani2c with Gert Heyns despite an injury, which kept him off the bike and away from training for much of the build-up. This year, Beukes is partnering Philip Buys as the Pyga Eurosteel team and they are clear favourites after dominating the local competition in recent events.
Their most notable effort was a clear win in the African category at the Absa Cape Epic, where they finished seventh overall against the strongest field ever assembled for the famous stage race.
Then last weekend Beukes proved he has already fully recovered from the Epic when he cruised to a solid victory in round three of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Clarens.
And, to make sure nobody can deny the Pyga Eurosteel team’s tag as outright favourites, Buys was third behind HB Kruger (Team BCX).
“Phil and I are in a very good place at the moment with our riding,” said Beukes this week. “I think we are possibly the favourites for the Sani2c, but I don’t think that means there is any pressure on us, in fact I believe it means the pressure is on the other teams!
“But, as we all know, in mountain biking anything can happen. Anybody can have a mechanical or some other problem and then it is the end of their chances.
“Last year at Sani I was injured and was only able to train properly for about two months before the race. This year we are going into the race in the best shape of our lives.
“We are both in good form after the Epic and I think that is because both Phil and I trained super hard for the Epic and we were super strong for that.
“Obviously, when you target a race like that you peak at that event, but I don’t think you lose fitness that quickly and we have both come out of the Epic well – four days after the finish we were able to start interval training again.
“We went into the Epic after coming fifth in 2015 so we wanted to try and do better than that and were aiming to get on the podium. But the Epic is now on a different level, so walking away we have to be happy with how things went.”
Beukes and Buys have a heavy schedule before they line up for the three-day dash from Himeville to Scottburgh on May 11. They both raced at the CSA Series event in Pretoria this past weekend, and then head to Johannesburg for the nine-day Old Mutual JoBerg2c, which also covers the final three days of the Sani2C route.
“We are really looking forward to the Sani2c, it really is one of the must-do events on the calendar.
“Last year was the first time I have done it with the descent down into the Umkomaas Valley – and that descent is really something else - it is spectacular. It is almost emotional when you get down to the bottom.
“The route for the race is super fast so we have to change our tyre choices, and, because it is so smooth as well, we almost have to use semi-slick tyres.
“The super-fast race suits the road guys. We would prefer the route to be a bit more rough and a bit slower, which would suit us more, but the way it is prepared means the race is almost like a road race, but that also makes things quite exciting.”
This year is the 12th edition of the KAP Sani2c, the world’s largest mountain bike stage race, which takes place from Himeville to Scottburgh during the second week of May. There are three races that form the event. On May 9, the Trail riders set off from Himeville for MacKenzie Farm near Ixopo.
Then, on the next day, while they are heading for Jolivet Farm in Highflats, the adventure riders take on stage one. As the trail riders dash to Scottburgh on May 11, the serious Race riders set off on their three-day journey from Himeville.