- The last big race of the year is into its final tranche of riders.
- Of the three Wines2Whales events, Shiraz is the most competitive.
- The field includes a current Cape Epic champion.
Philip Buys made a big step toward reclaiming his crown as the king of South African stage racing.
The former Olympian and his riding partner, Gert Heyns, blitzed the elite men's field on the opening day of the FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz event.
PYGA Euro Steel put a minute and 20 seconds into the defending champions, DEV Nanotime and over 5 minutes into third place finishers, Imbuko Giant.
Buys hasn't podiumed at a Wines2Wales since 2017.
Glad to be back
"We are highly motivated for the FNB Wines2Whales" Buys emphasised after the stage win.
"The plan hadn't been to attack so early on, but after Matt [Beers] had strung the field out on the Rotary Way climb Gert [Heyns] put in an acceleration."
"Only Matt and Wessel [Botha] could follow. It was great to be able to have a clearer run through the singletracks too, as riding these trails in a big group can be very risky."
A lot can happen - right near the finish
Buys' warning rang true as Jan Withaar crossed the finish line in Oak Valley with a destroyed rear wheel.
After deviating from his teammate's line into a singletrack section, the Computer Mania rider hit a tree stump in the final 300m of the route.
For Buys and Heyns the challenge will be keeping a clear trail ahead of them.
Stage 2 has a lot of singletrack riding and leading from the front is much safer than following a wheel into some of the tighter and more technical trail sections.
Note from editor: The name of the event was previously spelled wrong in the headline and has since been updated to reflect the correct spelling. We apologise for any inconvenience cause.