During the past weekend (7-8 May) Philip Buys and Marc Bassingthwaighte (Garmin-adidas) dominated the national cross-country event in Port Elizabeth by finishing first and second respectively.
As was expected, Buys did not waste time before taking control of the pro-elite race. The moment he reached the single-track section, Buys took the lead and rode a near perfect race, increasing his lead with almost every pedal stroke.
“It was just ‘a perfect day at the office’ for me. I could do nothing wrong. It felt as if I could go on forever.”
This was Buys’s second pro-elite victory in a national cross-country race. Last year he won in George.
The best word to describe Buys’s performances in national cross-country races over the past two years will be ‘consistent’.
Apart from his victory in George last year, he also finished second, then third, and second again.
At this year’s African Championship Bassingthwaighte finished second while Buys was third. Bassingthwaighte also finished third overall at the South African Championship. Unfortunately the chain of Buys’s mountain bike broke at that event, but he still managed to finish fifth.
Buys was also second in the UCI-sanctioned Karkloof event.
From a mountain biking point of view, it is interesting to note that Buys is turning into a tactical cyclist, especially when it comes to cross-country races.
In the past his attitude could sometimes be described by the old saying of ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ and this often led to unnecessary mistakes.
On Saturday Buys timed his attack to perfection, not going out guns blazing right from the start. Once he realized that he had his rivals against the proverbial ropes, he did not hesitate to go for the final knockout.
As was predicted, Bassingthwaighte was slow off the mark.
“I just did not have the best of legs. I could not get going during the first two laps and really had to battle. This caused me to drop back to about the ninth place.”
But quitting is never an option for Bassingthwaighte.
“It is very important for me to finish what I had started. It is all about pride. I will only quit a race if something goes seriously wrong.
“Luckily I managed to find a comfortable rhythm going into the third lap and from then on I began to catch up with the race leaders one by one.
“I managed to pass James Reid (BCM) during the last lap. It was just Philip who was too fast for me. Actually, I hardly saw him at all during the race.”
Afterwards both Buys and Bassingthwaighte were full of praise for the way in which Reid had raced.
‘Gutsy’ was the word they used to describe the youngster‘s race.
Buys and Bassingthwaighte will be competing in the Mabalingwe Lion-Man race on Saturday (14 May) while Mannie Heymans and Francois Theron will participate in the MTN Tulbach ultra-marathon.
Next week Buys and Bassingthwaighte will be off to Britain to race in the next cross-country World Cup event.