PYGA Euro Steel’s Matthys Beukes broke the South African drought while Ariane Lüthi added a historic sixth Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, to her palmarès on a wet Saturday, the 20th of January 2018. The elite men’s podium was filled by Tim Bohme and Philip Buys.
The twelfth edition of the race, best known for producing extreme heat and challenging riding conditions, was by no means an easy one – though many of the riders would have welcomed the cooler than usual conditions. The race started under clear skies at Chandelier Game Farm, outside Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, but finished in unseasonal summer rains at Pine Creek Resort, in Groot Brak River.
The cool conditions which prevailed in the early phases of the race, before the riders entered the Attakwaskloof Nature Reserve, allowed for fast paced racing in the elite men’s race. The PYGA Euro Steel duo were the main protagonists leading up to the King of the Mountain climb. “Matthys (Beukes) and I really pushed the pace, aiming for the course record” Philip Buys explained. “We knew if we made it hard, and increased the pace on every climb we would cause the lactic acid to build up in the other rider’s legs” Beukes elaborated.
Gert Heyns, DSV, helped Beukes and Buys with the paces making duties and eventually forced the split with Beukes as Buys was unable to match the pair as they raced for the King of the Mountain hot spot prize. Heyns was first over the summit of the Attakwas but punctured soon thereafter in a tricky section which was to affect the women’s race too.
Beukes forged ahead on his own, gradually extending his lead to three minutes and forty seconds at the 85 kilometre mark and a full nine minutes by the finish. Heyns never recovered from his puncture and ended up finishing in tenth position as a series of riders, led by Buys and Bohme passed him before he was eventually handed a pump and was able to re-inflate his tyre.
Buys remained in second position until the 85km mark when the Team Bulls rider, Bohme, caught him. The pair then worked together until Buys could no longer match Bohme, allowing the German to ride away to a hard fought second position. Buys completed the podium making it a first and third for PYGA Euro Steel.
The 2018 Momentum Health Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, was certainly one for the record books. Not only was this the largest ever field of starters, but the rain which soaked the course made it the wettest Attakwas in the event’s twelve year history; and with Lüthi winning her sixth race and Beukes becoming the first South African winner since he last won the race in 2012 it live fondly in the memories of the victors in particular for many years to come.