Team Toyota Specialized Rocks On!

Toyota Specialized legends Matt Beers and Tristan Nortje continue to impress, this time both in the less rough-and-tumble gravel world.

Toyota Specialized |

Team Toyota Specialized is still crossing the globe, with both riders hitting the smaller rocks of gravel racing for success at home and abroad. Matt Beers produced the stand-out performance of an already stellar season, while Tristan Nortje found late-season success closer to home.

Yes, that’s THE Greg van Avermaert hinging on the back… Photo: Michal Cerveny

Representing South Africa, Matt Beers took to the start in Veneto, Italy, for the first edition of the UCI Gravel World Championships. Having spent the week before the race scouting the route and testing various equipment choices, Beers was well prepared for the 194km race. Opting for the Specialized S-Works Crux with Roval Rapide wheels and Pathfinder tires ensured that he was optimised for maximum performance.

With a large contingent of world tour pro-riders entering the race at a late stage, the event got off to a frantic and somewhat manic start.

Anticipating the chaos, Beers moved toward the front of the bunch early on and navigated the early crashes to keep himself in the race for rainbows. Finally, an earlier move was covered, and a small break got away after a short 20km of racing. Then, Mathieu van der Poel closed the gap, and chaos ensued again.

Attacks were launched franticly, and Beers worked hard to close the necessary breakaway riders and other title contenders.

“I knew it would be a chaotic start, and I pushed my way to the front of the race. I was able to get into one of the attacks, but Vd Poel was not very happy about that, and he and the Dutch team brought it back.”

Photo: Etienne Schoeman

“Eventually, Daniel Oss and Vermeersch got away from the bunch and were allowed to escape.” The Italian team took control in the front of the bunch, and no one could regain contact with the two lone leaders. Vermeersch managed to get rid of Oss and soloed to victory, creating history as he crossed the line.

“I thought I was well positioned during the final circuits but got stuck behind some riders and couldn’t pass. So it was a little disappointing since I felt I could stay with the group ahead of me, including Peter Sagan and a few other title contenders. But overall, it was an outstanding experience, and I took plenty of critical lessons from the event. I am happy to be the first South African rider to finish the race, and I think the sport will only keep growing in the future.”

“I look forward to returning home and going to some local races.”

Beers was the first non-world tour rider to finish the race and impressed many of the riders and teams during the race.

George local Tristan Nortje showed his growing long-distance racing pedigree when he claimed victory at the inaugural Prince George 100-mile race in October.

The route took riders over 165km from Prince Albert to George and included more than 2 500m of ascent. Starting with the infamous Swartberg pass, Nortje forced a small selection who worked together to summit the pass in a new Strava record and claimed the King of the Mountain prize while doing so. Nortje managed to distance himself from the competition summiting the pass, and rode tactically to allow HB Kruger to regain contact before the pair worked together into the headwind.

Executing a well-thought-out plan and managing his effort throughout, Nortje lifted the tempo at will, which proved too much for Kruger, and the U/23 XCO champion raced the latter part of the event by himself. Navigating the tricky descent into George proved challenging on a gravel bike, but the Specialized Diverge was the perfect choice for the race.

Nortje finished the race in 5 hours and 49 minutes, the only rider to break the 6-hour mark.

“I am delighted with the results. I enjoyed racing over the longer distance and having a good feeling after a hard training block is really satisfying. The focus now shifts to Wines 2 Wales where I will race with Matt. It has been a while since we have done a stage race, so that will be great.”

2022 Prince George Monumental 100 Miler 
Men’s Results:
1. Tristan Nortje: Toyota Specialized (5:49:45)
2. HB Kruger: Valley Electrical Titan Racing (6:02:02 | +12:17)
3. Keagan Bontekoning: Insect Science Pro (6:04:31 | +14:46)
4. Marco Joubert: Imbuko {type}DEV (6:12:18 | +22:33)
5. Matthew Keyser: Valley Electrical Titan Racing (6:13:12 | +23:27)

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