Team PYGA Euro Steel’s Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys have set the South African mountain bike scene alight recently. With just 6 days before the Cape Epic starts, we caught up with Matthys to find what the rest of 2018 has in store.
Congratulations on your Attakwas victory. What would you say proved to be the deciding factor on the day which enabled you to claim overall victory?
Thanks! There’s a lot more than just one factor going into a performance but in general my training has been really good the weeks before the race. Mentally I was in a good place before and on race day and my equipment was spot-on, so all in all it was a pretty textbook day for me.
How would you explain what the main differences are between racing a marathon race like the Atta or racing the Cape Epic?
Even though the one is a one-day event and the other an eight-day stage race it doesn’t really change anything for me. Recovery at the Cape Epic is super important but it’s the same at Attakwas because when I cross the finish line at Atta, my next race just started.
Image from the 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme presented by Biogen captured by Zoon Cronje for www.zcmc.co.za
How did your off-season training go, and where did you ride the most?
Very well, I just like to stay at home in George and ride my usual training routes that I don’t get to ride that much during the season. It’s a beautiful area with big climbs, technical trails and my family and friends are all close.
What would you say is the biggest weakness you had to work on for your 2018 season?
I don’t really train my weaknesses, I just train the expected racing conditions for my main goal races.
With regards to team Pyga Euro Steel, what are you and Phil focussing on for this year’s Cape Epic?
Train to win, race to enjoy. So when we are out there we give our absolute best but it’s easy to forget to enjoy it and that is really important to us … I always say, a happy rider is a fast rider.
What is the single biggest goal for you and Phil in 2018?
There are a few big goals we set for ourselves, Cape Epic is one of them. But you can’t put all you hopes on just one event, something goes wrong and your whole plan is then useless, so we focus on others as well.
Matthys leading the bunch during the 2017 Absa Cape Epic. Credit: Graham Daniel
For the rest of 2018, what are the main events you and the team will be focussing on?
After Epic there is SA Champs, World Champs and a couple of other events that we will be building up to.
Your team has expanded quite a bit recently. What do youngsters like Kombo, Phillimon and Julian bring to the team?
It’s always good to have them with us, everyone has his own personality and makes it fun for the others to be there. The team vibe is crucial, and they fit in really well. They are all good riders in their own right so it’s rewarding and motivating to see them improve. Julian and Phillimon have also saved a race for us last year at Berg & Bush when they gave us their wheel on the second day, otherwise it would have been over for us.
With regards to mountain biking in SA, what would you like to see happen in the sport to promote and grow it?
I do think it’s pretty healthy here in SA. Even compared to countries like the US and Australia I think we have a big scene going. That must just flow over into XC racing where the Olympic medals are, but the Spur School Series has helped a lot with that. And then the corporate world must get behind teams with young talented riders more. I do feel that events are getting the sponsors and making the big bucks and that’s great but it’s not so great for our talented youngsters who have the potential to win World and Olympic medals … they fall through the crack and it’s really sad.
The team is on Pyga’s for another season – these bikes seem to be working for you. What does it mean to be associated with such a lekka local cycling company?
The Pyga bikes are definitely working for us, we really like the feeling on the bikes and it shows in our results. We have also become good friends with Patrick and Ollie and all the others that are part of Pyga and it really feels like a family that we are part of, their support and belief really mean a lot to us.
Make sure to follow Matthys on Twitter https://twitter.com/MatthysBeukes
Follow the team on Twitter https://twitter.com/AfricanMTBteam
Visit their website http://www.africanmtbteam.com/