Cape Town - Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes took a giant bunny hop towards
claiming the 2017 Berg & Bush Descent title with a commanding
ride on day two of the event.
In the ladies race, Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall consolidated their overnight lead with another stage win (2:28:07), once again
getting the better of Candice Lill and Vera Adrian in the closing
kilometres of the race (2:30:11).
The pair of Buys and Beukes were home first in a time of 2:08:11 on the
relatively short 60km day; Day 1's winners, Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck trailing them by six minutes to claim second on the day
With a slim overnight lead going into day two, Bell and Combrinck now have
their work cut out for them after they suffered a gashed tyre 40km into the
second day of racing. Their time loss allowed Buys and Beukes to open up an
overall lead of around five minutes with one day to go.
“That was fun, a really great stage of mountain biking,” said Beukes.
conditions were perfect and I think it was single track from start to finish.
Of course, it helps that we won, but overall it’s definitely one of the great
stages of cycling.”
For most of the day’s race, it was a two-horse tussle, with Bell and Combrinck
sticking with Buys and Beukes.
Disaster struck for Combrinck
slashed his tyre while attempting to overtake Buys and Beukes on the last big
climb of the day, Mike’s Pass. At first they inserted a tube, but eventually
had to wait for Declan Sidey to
hand over a spare wheel. The delay gave Buys and Beukes ample opportunity to
open up the gap.
“It was a fast start,” said Buys.
“Nico and Gawie were with us from the start,
but we really went out guns blazing and tried to force the pace. We just never
stopped attacking; it worked out for us in the end.”
In the ladies race McDougall and Sanders were dominant again, finishing the day
with huge, mud-splattered smiles.
“Fun, fun, fun,” was McDougall’s assessment
of the stage.
“The trails were brilliant and we found ourselves riding alone
for large sections, which was fantastic. Our aim was always to go out and
attack from the start, which we achieved. Candice and Vera were with us until
the last climb, where we were able to push on and away from them.”
Defending champ Lill was full of praise for the race leaders.
“Amy and Sam are
riding so well,” she said.
“Today they were just too strong for us. We couldn’t
match them for power up the last big climb and they pulled away. But we enjoyed
ourselves out there. It was pure mountain biking fun. The trails are excellent
and the cool weather made the riding really enjoyable.”
Day 2 of the Berg & Bush Descent was bushveld bliss for the
1 000 or so riders taking part. With conditions overcast and cool once again,
the field could tackle the likes of Ox Wagon Hill, Mike’s Pass, Puffadder Pass
and Nicky’s Nightmare in ideal riding conditions.
The 60km day featured approximately 900m of climbing, but the hills were all
short and sharp; enough to take the breath away before opening up into
exhilarating single track trails.
The surrounding Drakensberg mountains, red soil trails and numerous acacia
trees gave the day’s riding a truly African feel, and with the Tugela River
flowing freely, Day 2 is a riding experience that lasts long in the memory.
The two water points on the route are also staffed by enthusiastic Winterton
locals, all doing their best to feed the riders more than necessary.
Day 3 is another short day, but features the iconic climb up Spionkop, a
highlight for many and a horror for some as the equally tough Lantana Climb
needs to be conquered first. The final 10km of the event though is riding
bliss, with flowing single track allowing riders to race home with grins almost
as wide as the event’s famous Bell Run berms.
Berg & Bush Descent results Day 2
1. Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 2:08:11
2. Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 2:14:50
3. Wessel Both and Henry Liebenberg (Absolute Motion) 2:14:54
1. Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 2:28:07
2. Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 2:30:11
3. Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 2:33:17
Berg & Bush Descent GC
1. Phil Buys and Matthys Beukes (Pyga Euro Steel) 4:35:43
2. Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 4:40:54
3. Andrew Hill and Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling Kavuki Breeders TIB Insurance)
1. Sam Sanders and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia Ladies) 5:04:55
2. Candice Lill and Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 5:11:46
3. Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster (Velocity Sports Lab Pro) 5:22:07