TWO-time winner Matthys Beukes will return to defend his 80km Extreme mountain bike title at The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Addo tomorrow.
Beukes – who will also vie for the overall Ultimate Quest title in the 106km Classic on Sunday – said he was looking forward to one of his favourite events on the calendar.
“It’s a great weekend away. The mountain bike route is interesting and the road race is always fun.”
The George-based rider said he was in good form despite struggling with mechanicals in his first major race of the season, the African Continental Mountain Bike Championships, in Cape Town last weekend.
“In the end, my sixth place was quite a good result, considering I chased back from 14th at the halfway stage.
“It wasn’t easy to keep going but I really hate giving up and not giving it 100%, so at least I know I gave it my best shot in the end.”
For the Addo race, Beukes will be up against the likes of newly crowned under-23 African crosscountry champion James Reid, multiple national title holder Kevin Evans and former SA road champ Darren Lill.
Beukes said Reid would certainly be the man to watch.
“He was third last year and the route makes for tactical racing, which he’s really good at.”
Unfortunately for Beukes, he will be without the services of Scott Factory Racing teammate Philip Buys, who claimed the elite continental title last Saturday. Buys finished in the runner-up spot behind Beukes in Addo last year. The pair went on to earn the coveted African jersey at the Cape Epic two months later.
“It would have made it a lot easier to have him here and we could have taken turns at hurting the others,” Beukes said.
But, because of the busy race calendar, Buys had decided to concentrate on training to enable him to peak later.
On tactics, Beukes said he preferred not to go into a race with a pre-existing plan to neutralise the competition. “I sort of see who has what, and what the route gives me, and work from there.
“There are so many things that can go south that I rather make sure I focus on my own game.”
The 26-year-old said the challenging nature of the course – particularly the Hayterdale section where he came second in the XCO nationals – certainly played to his strengths,
“I think the technical nature of the trails there suit a rider like me.
“They are tight, twisty single tracks with loose surfaces and that always brings out the best in me.”
Born and raised in Oudtshoorn, Beukes said the soaring temperatures forecast for tomorrow would not influence his racing.
“Coming from Oudtshoorn, I really don’t mind a nice sunny day. It will definitely suit me more.”
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