For Philip Buys (Scott Factory Racing) passion means that you ignore the pain you’re in and push yourself to the limit in the hope of gaining a few international ranking points to keep your Olympic dream alive. Buys is on his way to the Czech Republic today (19/05) where he will compete in a World Cup event at Nove Mesto na Morave on Sunday. He will compete in another World Cup race at Albstadt in Germany the following weekend, followed by a Swiss Cup race in Granichen during the first weekend of June.
He will finish his international expedition by riding a three-day stage race in Switzerland. Buys readily admits that he is far from being racing fit. The Tuks/HPC mountain biker says: ‘You can say that, as far as my racing is concerned, I am between the devil and the deep blue sea at the moment. Ideally I should take time off to give the torn ligaments in my shoulder time to heal properly, but I cannot afford to do so.’ For the first time since 2013 Buys is not South Africa’s top-ranked cross- country rider.
After his fifth place finish at the African Continental Championships in Rwanda, the Olympian has slipped 13 places on the UCI-rankings. He is currently ranked 42nd. After his victory in Rwanda, James Reid has moved into Buys’s 29th spot on the rankings and Matthys Beukes is ranked 33rd.
Buys says: ‘Therefore I have no choice but to race. I urgently need to get some ranking points. Even if I gain only five points on Sunday it will be better than nothing. There is no greater sporting honour than representing your country at the Olympic Games and I really want to represent South Africa in 2016 in Rio. The doctors at the High Performance Centre (HPC) told me that racing will not make the damage to my shoulder any worse, but they warned that it will be painful. I will simply have to grin and bear it. Hopefully, like often happens during a cycle tour, I will be able to ride myself into form over the next four weekends.’ Many experts consider Buys to be one of the best technical riders in mountain biking. It has been said that he will still be pedalling when many other riders have resorted to pushing their bikes.
Notwithstanding these high praises, Buys has not yet managed to make any real impact on the international racing scene. His best result in the Cross Country World Cup series was finishing 15th in 2012. He says: ‘Some people say that I have reached my peak as a mountain biker, but I know it is not true. I am definitely still improving and if I could refrain from doing something stupid and have a little bit of luck at the right moment, I know my international results will begin to improve.’
Photo credit: Reg Caldecott