At the moment Philip Buys (Garmin-adidas) is without any doubt the second best pro-elite cross-country rider in South Africa. He is second only to Burry Stander.
On Saturday (4 June), during the national cross-country event at the Cascades in Pietermaritzburg, Buys basically demolished his rivals with his aggressive riding. The first-year u.23 rider, James Reid, was the only one who even tried to stay with Buys, but the youngster’s tenacity lasted for one lap only.
From the second lap onwards, Buys was out in front on his own, dictating the race and increasing his lead with every pedal stroke.
According to Buys he experienced one of those days when nothing could go wrong.
“I could get used to the feeling of not having to constantly look across my shoulder to see where my rivals are.”
It was Buys’ second victory in the national series. He also won in Port Elizabeth. This means that he now has a realistic chance of winning the series overall.
According to Buys, dr. Jeroen Swart deserves most of the credit for the turnabout in his cross-country career.
“Thanks to Jeroen, this is the first year that I have been doing proper scientific training. My results prove that I am on the right track and I can feel that I am much stronger than last year.
“What is exciting to me is that Jeroen has the ability to let me peak at the right times. According to his training program I was supposed to have a good race at the Cascades.
“Our next important focus will be for me to peak at the World Cross-Country Championship. I have discussed it with Jeroen and suggested that I need to do some cross-training, for example gym work, to get stronger. He has already made arrangements for someone to help me with a proper cross-training program.”
Reid finished second over the weekend and Renay Groustra was third.
Buys was selected to represent South Africa at the UCI World Marathon Championship, but the chances of him competing are slim.
On Monday Buys had to face a challenge of a totally different kind. He had to race against an endurance horse! The race was arranged because a television crew wanted to know what the fastest mode of transport through rough terrain was – mountain bike or horse.
The challenge took place near the Rhino and Lion Park just outside Krugersdorp.
Buys said he thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. Afterwards he was full of praise for his rival.
“You don’t realize how fast a horse can run until you have to race against him. I was beaten on the flat sections and also on the straightforward climbs. Luckily I managed to make up time on the downhills and through the technical sections.
“My main concern was not to do something stupid that could lead to the horse breaking a leg or some other bone, because this could mean that the horse would have to be put down and that would not have been fair.”
According to Buys he just managed to beat the horse in the final sprint to the line.