Matthys Beukes, Team PYGA Euro Steel, has won the Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour 80km MTB event in 02:47:02, beating Gert Heyns (02:51:29) by more than three minutes and breaking the course record he set in 2015 of 02:52:12. Third was Matt Beers, just a split second behind Heyns (02:51:30).
About 3,500 riders competed in the MTB races today, the first major sporting event of the 2017 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival.
Speaking after the race, Beukes said the race went well for him although he had woken up this morning with allergies and nearly didn’t race.
“I thought I would see how it went after the first climb, but my legs felt quite fresh. I got some good training in the last few weeks so I could see the power was there from quite early on. It was just a matter of trying to tire the other guys out a bit. From about half way I took off and set about going a decent pace but not too hard. We were in a group going up the mountain – Gert Steyn who was King of the Mountain, Matt Beers, Waylon Wilcock and myself – and the four of us worked hard together up Kom se Pad, until the 40km mark when I put in a big attack. I saved everything for then. It was the same as two years ago – I also rode away from the guys there. I just know that climb very well. Then I took some time on the single track decent to recover quite well and from there on just set about setting a decent tempo.”
When Beukes won the event two years ago, first woman home then was Robyn de Groot, who rides for Team Ascendis Health. She was also first woman home today with a time of 03:00:10, beating Candice Lill (03:01:44) and last year’s winner Yolande de Villiers who came third.
George-based De Groot said that supporting a local event is very important to her and that she was happy that the event had gone ahead despite the fires.
“The race was pretty hard from the start. I didn’t catch the bus on the start up to Simola, so I was lying in fourth place and at one stage I was two minutes behind the leading lady Candice Lill, but I just stayed calm and collected and did the best I could. I just rode within myself and started reeling the other ladies in and eventually caught Candice. I thought it would be a sprint finish but she ran up the stairs under the highway and unfortunately I think her legs started cramping so she struggled to get back on the bike and I just had to use that opportunity to get away and take the gap.”
Marketing Director for the race, Andrew Finn said it was a great day of racing with everything running to plan in beautiful warm weather.
Doug Emanuel, President of Knysna Rotary which coordinates the event, said that he was delighted with the turnout today. “We were a bit anxious after the fires but very soon it was business as usual in Knysna, and we are very grateful to all the riders who turned out to support the Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour today and to those who will be doing the road races tomorrow.”
Carel Bosman, Head of Sponsorships for Momentum, naming sponsor of the cycle tour, said that he was delighted with the event. “Today was a fantastic day in Knysna. The cyclists turned out in their droves to support Knysna and there was a great vibe in town after the previous traumatic weeks following the fires. There really is a sense that Knysna is rising from the devastation. Momentum was very involved in the relief effort, and it is wonderful to see locals and visitors enjoying themselves again in the outdoors and the sunshine. I rode the race myself and I can tell you that the forest is still beautiful and Knysna has lost none of its appeal.”
All provisional MTB race results are available on the website, oyster.events.