Dark horse on his win at the Pennypinchers Karoo to Coast Mountain Bike Challenge
“It’s really special to me,” commented an ecstatic Matt Beers after winning the Pennypinchers Lions Karoo to Coast Mountain Bike Challenge on Sunday 20th September. “I’ve always known about the race living in Knysna – so winning it is pretty crazy,” he said.
Beers who recently signed with the RED-E Cannondale team crossed the line ahead of Adriaan Louw (Contego) and some 4300 other cyclists on the 16th edition of the iconic event. The event is owned by the Lions Clubs of Knysna and Uniondale. The major beneficiary of this event is the SightFirst Project for sight restoration operations in the Southern Cap and Karoo, for those who cannot afford them. The Lions Clubs also support the South African Guide Dog Association and many other positive projects.
Beers went into the race as something of an underdog, just the way he likes it. “I love being a dark horse,” he said, “there’s less hype around you and you can stay more relaxed.”
The racing was hot and fast right from the gun as Gert Heyns (Scott) and Beers hit the Wapad Climb. “We hit the first climb very fast just to see how the others would respond,” Beers explains. “There was a small group which stayed together for a while. We where all individual riders there where no teammates amongst the riders so was quite a lot of looking at each other seeing who would set the pace.”
The group eventually started working together near the end and the subsequent pace saw a few guys get dropped. “As we hit the bottom of Gouna I knew this is where its all going to start going crazy,” Beers said. Five riders were together at the time and it was Heyns who set the early pace into the climb. This shattered the group a bit but after some chasing everything came back together again.
“I started going for it because I knew the only way to get rid of some of the guys was to get to the top and of the climb before them and then they wouldn’t catch us on the descent Alan Gordon, Adriaan Louw and myself got away from the others at the top and started time-trailing it along the tar road to the finish.”
Beers and Louw managed to get a gap on Gordon and continued to build the pressure. “I just went as hard as I could, sitting on the front with Adriaan behind me because I knew he would out-sprint me at the end if we went around the corner together. I just pushed as hard as I could just to get a bike-length gap and the I knew I would be able to hold it till the finish and it ended up working.”
“I was over the moon!”
For more details, photographs and results please view www.karootocoast.com