“The race is always tricky,” explains says ex-pro Nic White, who runs the RoadCover Cycling team. “You can’t predict how it will play out, but we hope to be ready for whatever happens. The thrill of the Cape Town Cycle Tour is that it’s very difficult to predict. The weather on the day can play a big role.”
One possible scenario on Sunday is a long breakaway. The RoadCover team has various soldiers who can handle this, including 2017 African Continental Champion Willie Smit, 2016 94.7 Challenge winner Brendon Davids and Kent Main, who showed some serious class at the Tour of Good Hope this past week.
If it stays together to the end for a bunch sprint, all eyes will be on last year’s CTCT winner, RoadCover’s Clint Hendricks. “Clint is confident and is in good form. The aspiration to repeat the win is definitely there,” White affirmed.
Bound to be shoulder-to-shoulder with Hendricks, should it come down to a bunch sprint, is SA’s most prolific sprint machine, Nolan Hoffman of team BCX, who is just as confident: “If myself and Reynard [Butler] survive Suikerbossie we will definitely be the fastest guys in the sprint,” he said.
Hoffman has had a good start to the year, winning his sixth The Herald Continental Cycle Tour 2017. He will certainly be looking for his third Cape Town Cycle Tour title after having claimed the win in 2014, and at the 2015 47km Solidarity Ride.
“Our team’s goal will be to neutralise all the attacks on the hills,” said Hoffman. “But dealing with the strong climbers in teams like Dimension Data Continental will be a big challenge on the hills, though.”
The Dimension Data Continental outfit is a young, well-drilled squad out to prove that they have what it takes to graduate to the big show. African Continental U23 time-trial triumph, Stefan de Bod could easily go alone.
Alfa BodyWorks is always in the mix and the iconic 109km route lends itself to tactical team racing, their aim will be to cover the moves and protect sprinter Shameeg Salie to the finish.
There are also a few dark horses in the field who could cause an upset on the day. Morne van Niekerk from Team LEADout Aspire Cycling will be out to take names. And don’t discount the crew of international mountain bikers in the country on, now-regular, summer training and pre Absa Cape Epic prep. Team Bulls’ big guns, Urs Huber and Karl Platt, know how to race on the road and Sam Gaze (Specialized) has shown what a weapon he can be – Gaze has made it clear on social media that he is targeting the win on Sunday.
Rio Olympian and defending champion An-Li Kachelhoffer (BestMed ASG) will be looking to her team to control the racing and cover any moves to give her the best shot at a repeat victory. BestMed ASG will be especially watchful of seven-time Cape Town Cycle Tour champion Anriëtte Schoeman and newly crowned SA Road Race champ, Heidi Dalton (Demacon).
The outside favourite here must be Candice Lill (Dorma Kaba), who swapped her mountain bike for a highly successful campaign at the Tour of Good Hope this past week. By her side will be formidable Namibian Vera Adrian, who has multiple National and Continental road race and TT titles under her belt, and has finished on the Cape Town Cycle Tour podium before.
The shorter distance might favour a few other riders too – don’t be surprised to see the likes mountain-biker Amy McDougall, tri-athlete Mari Rabi or trail runner Hayley Preen throw in a few moves.
It’s still anyone’s race.