In contrasting conditions and with rain around, the PYGA Euro Steel team completed a sweep of both the team and individual crowns at the Euro Steel Drak Descent that ended at Umkimkulu River Lodge on Sunday.
Having ridden their way to the front of the race on day one on Saturday, the PYGA Euro Steel pair of Philip Buys and Alex Miller as well as their team-mate Michael Foster continued where they left off to finish together at the end to win the team and individual titles respectively.
With the rest of the season top of mind, Buys was happy with the outcome from the two days of racing through the Southern Drakensberg.
“It was a solid weekend of riding and with the extra bits of riding that we did it was a good weekend,” Buys said.
“I think that we got what we needed from the weekend, and it was great to represent the sponsors at the event and have a good two days of training as we gear up for what’s to come.
“We’ve got two cross country races next weekend and then it’s the Tankwa Trek which will be my first real gauge as to where I am in relation to the other guys.
“There should be a few international guys there as well with the Epic a few weeks after Tankwa.”
Sunday’s wet conditions offered up a completely different challenge for the riders and given their overnight advantage, Buys knew that they didn’t have extend themselves in the tricky conditions.
“It was very wet and slippery out there and you had to keep it safe.
“There is a good chance that you could make a silly mistake in those conditions and pick up an injury, so we just tried to go carefully through the stage, and we got through,” added the current South African XCO and Marathon champion.
Buys’ team-mate Alex Miller, who is the Namibian national XCO champion, experienced the Southern Drakensberg for the first time this weekend. It was a weekend on which he learnt a lot coming from the dry conditions in Namibia.
“It was a very good route and I really enjoyed Saturday, but Sunday was very different from anything that I am used to coming from Namibia,” Miller said.
“The trails were great, and the scenery was fantastic and it’s definitely a place that I want to go back to for a holiday to just chill out!”
Young Foster continued his good form and made it a second consecutive Euro Steel Drak Descent solo crown after he won in 2022.
Tipping Point/Brink Academy’s Omar Wilson was the second solo rider home on Saturday which consolidated his spot in second in the individual race while the experienced Andrew Hill powered home to third in the solo race.
DriveTrain Academy’s Tyronne White and Josh Johnson were the second team across the line again which then saw the Tipping Point/Brink Academy dup of David Low and Keegan Tullis finishing in third overall in the team showdown.
The mixed Collision Course team of Daniel van der Watt and Tyler Jacobs dominated the combined category to win the second stage and finish in just over three hours on Sunday.
In the women’s race it was Claudia Slattery who climbed from third to first with a strong display on Sunday while Mikaela Meyer finished in second overall and Donna Winter crossed the line to claim third in the women’s category.
Farren Flemington produced another quick day of racing to claim the line honours for the Drak Descent MTB Challenge which saw him win the overall title on Sunday while Angie Miller was the quickest women over the two days.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS – 2023 Euro Steel Drak Descent Stage One
1 Michael Foster 01:51:18 02:24:27
2 PYGA Euro Steel (Philip Buys/Alex Miller) 01:51:20 02:24:27
3 Omar Wilson 01:53:51 02:26:44
4 Andrew Hill 01:58:39 02:30:03
5 DriveTrain Team (Tyronne White/Josh Johnson) 01:58:11 02:37:30
6 Tipping Point/Brink Academy (David Low/Keegan Tullis) 02:00:57 02:40:31
7 Martin Hall 02:06:29 02:38:18
8 Tayne Rudling 02:04:34 02:41:59
9 PYGA Euro Steel 2 (Pressmore Musundi/Wian Van Den Bergh) 02:02:09 02:52:03
10 Dale Bates 02:14:05 02:53:10
1 Michael Foster 01:51:18 02:24:27
2 Omar Wilson 01:53:51 02:26:44
3 Andrew Hill 01:58:39 02:30:03
4 Martin Hall 02:06:29 02:38:18
5 Tayne Rudling 02:04:34 02:41:59
1 PYGA Euro Steel (Philip Buys/Alex Miller) 01:51:20 02:24:27
2 DriveTrain Team (Tyronne White/Josh Johnson) 01:58:11 02:37:30
3 Tipping Point/Brink Academy (David Low/Keegan Tullis) 02:00:57 02:40:31
4 PYGA Euro Steel 2 (Pressmore Musundi/Wian Van Den Bergh) 02:02:09 02:52:03
5 Could Be Surfing (Warren Jacobs/Troy Jacobs) 02:12:15 03:01:59
1 Claudia Slattery 02:35:16
2 Mikaela Meyer 02:59:47 04:14:23
3 Donna Winter 03:03:24 04:20:56
Drak Descent MTB Challenge
1 Farran Flemington 01:29:28 01:34:03
2 Andrew Carr 01:39:27 01:46:10
3 Stanley Atkins 01:43:34
4 Matthew Carolan 01:43:50 01:45:37
5 Angie Miller 01:42:44 01:55:06
6 Laura Wolhuter 01:48:50 01:52:40
7 Rocco Bonsma 01:49:24 02:06:50
8 Kara Basson 02:02:55 02:03:52
9 Sateesh Isseri 02:01:37 02:12:46
10 Rammy Govender 02:03:31 02:12:43