As expected, the final skirmish in the Grindrod Bank Berg & Bush Descent was won on the slopes of the historic site of the Battle of Spionekop with the PYGA Euro Steel pair of Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys making the race-deciding break up the steep slopes.
Beukes and Buys started the final 48km third stage on Sunday with a two-second deficit to Nico Bell and Matt Beers (NAD Pro) after losing out on the final sprint on Day 2. But on Sunday they planned not to leave the final result dependant on a finish sprint and were quickest up the Spioenkop climb which was enough to secure the overall victory.
On the mini-climbs leading up to the main section of the historic battle site, Beukes and Buys began to make things tough in preparation for the steep climb up to the top of the mountain.
“As soon as we hit the gravel road, even before we hit the gate that signals the start of the main climb, we made it difficult for the others,” said Beukes after celebrating the victory at the finish.
“Yesterday we saw Nico struggling on some of the climbs but they were just a bit too short for us to get away.
“So we knew today we needed to make it as hard as possible and began attacking early and then on the steep part of the climb we got a gap and just pinned it on the downhill – that was so much fun.”
On the 14km descent off Spioenkop down to the finish it was a super-fast downhill time-trial between the leading teams. As they weaved their way through the single-track descent the PYGA riders managed to open the gap from “about 20 seconds” at the top to just under a minute at the finish and so claim victory by 54 seconds.
In the women’s race, Amy McDougall and Samantha Sanders (dormakaba) were never challenged and wrapped up their hat-trick of victories and won their category overall by a substantial 50 minutes ahead of Hayley Smith and Christie-Leigh Hearder (Bell Equipment).
Despite the large winning margin, McDougall said it was not so simple.
“I would not say that was easy … we still rode as hard as we could,” said Mcdougall. “It was so much fun. The trails were spectacular… I mean the descent off Spioenkop is one of my favourite trails in the whole country and it leaves everybody with a smile on their face at the end of the race,” added the race winner with, appropriately, her trademark smile shining out from her muddied face.
In the mixed category Yolandi du Toit and Ben Melt Swanepoel (Garmin) also claimed their third stage win to beat Theresa Ralph and Tom Wetton (Galileo Risk Mixed) by 10 minutes, while Luke Chambers added his third win to claim the solo category from Deon van Vuuren and Grayson Keppler.
1 Matthys Beukes / Philip Buys (PYGA EuroSteel) 1:45:14
2 Nico Bell / Matthew Beers (Team NAD) 1:46:10
3 Wessel Botha / Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD 2) 1:47:19
4 Shuan-Nick Bester / Andrew Hill (TIB Silverback best4sport) 1:47:55
5 Phillimon Sebona / Julian Jessop (PYGA EuroSteel 2) 1:48:38
1 Luke Chambers 1:57:37
2 Grayson Keppler 2:00:38
3 Deon van Vuuren 2:01:28
1 Samantha Sanders / Amy Mcdougall (dormakaba) 2:01:32
2 Hayley Smith / Christie Hearder (Bell Equipment) 2:13:37
1 Yolandi Toit / Ben Melt Swanepoel (Team Garmin) 2:04:01
2 Theresa Ralph / Tom Wetton (Galileo Risk Mixed) 2:07:33
3 Dirk Nel / Ronel Van Wyk Nel (Lynx Real Estate) 2:15:35
1 Matthys Beukes / Philip Buys (PYGA EuroSteel) 7:18:26
2 Nico Bell / Matthew Beers (Team NAD) 7:19:20
3 Wessel Botha / Gawie Combrinck (Team NAD 2) 7:20:42
4 Andrew Hill / Shuan-Nick Bester (TIB Silverback best4sport) 7:21:19
5 Julian Jessop / Phillimon Sebona (PYGA EuroSteel 2) 7:35:51
1 Luke Chambers 8:27:56
2 Deon van Vuuren 8:30:57
3 Grayson Keppler 8:32:14
1 Samantha Sanders / Amy Mcdougall (dormakaba) 8:28:10
2 Christie Hearder / Hayley Smith (Bell Equipment) 9:19:36
1 Yolandi Toit / Ben Melt Swanepoel (Team Garmin) 8:30:33
2 Theresa Ralph / Tom Wetton (Galileo Risk Mixed) 8:40:28
3 Dirk Nel / Ronel Van Wyk Nel (Lynx Real Estate) 9:23:52