Beukes dug deep to overcome an impressive race-long challenge from Brendon Davids (Road Cover), eventually clocking a winning time of 2 hours 55 minutes 34 seconds, which was just one second ahead of the fast-finishing Davids.
Philip Buys (Pyga Eurosteel) was at the front of the race with Beukes and Davids until a mechanical delayed his progress. He eventually finished fourth, behind Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) who grabbed the final podium spot. Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro), the Series leader going into the event, finished fifth.
“I think this course is bit too flat for me and Brendon is really strong on the flats. He had me in the hurt box a lot. Me, Brendon and Phil got away early but unfortunately Phil punctured and I just had to stick to Brendon’s wheel. On the flats I was bleeding to keep up,” explained a weary Beukes.
“And on the last climb I thought it’s game over for me. I thought I’ll just put one last final effort in. I saw then that he was on the limit as well, which motivated me so I pinned it to the end. I got a bit tired towards the finish. I ran out of energy and Brendon almost caught me on the line,” added Beukes.
In terms of taking the Series lead, Beukes remained realistic in his approach.
“Obviously it’s good to take the lead in the Series. Confidence wise it’s a nice boost. I haven’t been looking at the overall Series, but rather just taking each event individually and try and do my best at each one.
“Van Gaalen gave us a true mountain biker’s race and Brendon showed that he’s not lost his touch on the technical stuff. You have to be smooth on this kind of terrain in order to be fast and it was a really enjoyable route,” added Beukes.
“It was a hard day out. Quite fast. The Pyga guys were attacking me left right and centre from the start. It really made for some hard racing. I lost Matthys’s wheel with about five kilometres to go. But I managed to collect myself again and started my charge towards the finish. Unfortunately, we had some run-ins with some backmarkers near the end. But ultimately the strongest guy won. Hats off to Matthys,” said Davids, who is focussing predominantly on road racing in 2017.
“I was really impressed with the route. It’s my first time racing at Van Gaalen and it’s definitely one of my favourite routes. Brendon and Matthys were really strong. From 20 kays in they got a gap on me and I could never really close. It was good to finish on the podium,” said Heyns.
Round 6 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 2-3 September at Dullstroom in Mpumalanga. The early spring two-day event is expected to attract a large field. For more information, or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com
Round 5, Van Gaalen
1 Matthys Beukes (Pyga/Eurosteel) 2:55:34
2 Brendon Davids (Road Cover) 2:55:35
3 Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health) 2:59:00
4 Philip Buys (Pyga/Eurosteel) 3:00:38
5 Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro) 3:02:00
6 Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) 3:04:47
7 Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD Pro) 3:05:31
8 Wessel Botha 3:12:35
9 Declan Sidey (Bells Cycling) 3:13:41
10 Ben Melt Swanepoel (Garmin Merida) 3:15:45
1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 1:40:03
2 Keagan Bontekoning 1:42:29
3 Chris du Plessis 1:43:22
For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org