In the UCI-sanctioned Karkloof cross-country race that took place this past weekend (9-10 April), Philip Buys (Garmin-adidas) rode the ride of his life.
He finished second after Burry Stander (Specialized) with just more than 30 seconds separating the two riders.
A modest Buys was hesitant to make too much of his heroic performance.
“I don’t know if this is a true reflection of my riding abilities. Maybe Burry was still tired after his brilliant Cape Epic victory.”
When Buys was reminded that he had also ridden the Epic, he retorted that he did not race as hard as Stander and that the only reason why he was able to stick with Stander was because his legs were fresher.
However, mountain biking fans who saw the race were adamant that Buys rode brilliantly, adding that it was Buys who set the fastest lap time of the day.
After the race Stander was overheard giving praise to Buys, saying that he really had to dig deep to outride him.
When Buys discussed the race afterwards, it seemed that what made the difference this time was that he started his race slightly more conservatively.
“We had to race quite a long distance before we arrived at the first single-track section. Normally I would have raced flat out in an effort to get to the front as quickly as possible to make sure that I reached the single track first.
“On Saturday I started slower, racing at about third wheel until we got to the single track. That was when the serious racing started.
“I was amazed by how relaxed and comfortable I felt when I was racing in front with Burry, even though my heart rate was quite high at times.
“The only time I felt slightly uncomfortable was going into the fifth lap. I experienced signs of oncoming cramps. Luckily I knew what to do. I slowed down ever so slightly to give my legs time to recover before I resumed racing flat out.”
According to Buys he was surprised that none of the international riders competed.
“I would have thought that it was an ideal opportunity for them to get used to South Africa’s racing conditions.
“I guess a few of them might be competing this Saturday in the next event of the national cross-country series, especially because we will race on the World Cup course in Pietermaritzburg.”
Images by Zoon Cronje