Beers Adds Gravel National Champ To Palmares
When Team Toyota Specialized’s Matt Beers lined up at the start of the inaugural SA Gravel Championships in Franschhoek in September, even the most positive contenders in the star-studded field must have held marginal concern. The 160km/2 000m route to Hermanus started with the brutal Franschhoek Pass, and then got harder – perfect terrain for the long, mega-watt levers Beers calls legs.
And so it turned out that a select group of three crested the Pass to fight out the King of the Mountains category – former U23 national road champion Marc Pritzen (Honeycomb) took the sprint, but Beers had bigger fish to fry and after an 80km/h descent, it was hammer time. Beers’ solid warmup on his Wahoo Kickr before the start payed dividends, and ultimately only Pritzen could come close to matching his fully-activated muscle groups on the cold, overcast morning the weather gods had finally provided after a month of dire racing conditions.
Descending the Pass, the trio crossed the Theewaterskloof dam in the direction of Botrivier. Rolling through but not working too well together, the three leaders were caught by the chasers growing the lead group back to eight riders. The new partnership did not last very long, though, as Beers put the hammer down into a single track section followed by a climb and obliterated the group. Riding to his race plan, Beers managed to put the remaining riders under pressure in the technical areas of the race. He forced his competitors into making small mistakes, ultimately giving Beers the upper hand.
The conditions lent themselves to a fast finish, with the help of a solid tailwind, and ultimately the plan came together. Even a tiny navigational mistake could not stop Matt from crossing the line in the first place, winning the first-ever South African gravel championship title by more than 11 minutes from Pritzen with Dusty Day a further eight minutes further back.
“This is a big highlight of my season, for sure! I really wanted to win another jersey, especially after marathon champs not going well. That really gave me the hunger. I’ve had a lot of seconds and thirds and podiums this year, which is great, but getting the win is always special. That’s what we work hard for.”
“It is an absolute honour to win the first ever South African Gravel title, and I am grateful for the support from all of my sponsors who made this possible.”
Beers earned the first-ever Gravel Championship aboard his S-Works Crux, one of the industry’s lightest gravel bikes, boosted by a season’s-worth of multi-surface experience gained while racing in the biggest gravel races in the USA earlier in the year.