After dominating the event for six years, Team BCX (branded as Team Telkom until last year) have been nudged onto the second step for the past two years with Ryan Gibbons (Eurocar) and Brad Potgieter (RoadCover) claiming the wins in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
BCX team principal Malcolm Lange is keen to change things back to the way they were when Nolan Hoffman and his team dominated.
“We are sending six of our riders to race: Nolan, David (Maree), Reynard (Butler), Wes (Eslick), Steven (van Heerden) and Calvin Beneke. I think six will be enough,” said Lange.
“The riders are in good form at the moment. We got five medals at the track champs recently so there is nothing wrong with their speed.
“Over the years the race has proved difficult to split up and so it normally ends up coming down to a sprint. But if somebody is away after the riders turn back to Durban, then we will have to put the pressure on to close the gap down.
“Our guys are all very keen to have a good race and are looking to get the win and if they can do well it will be a good way to end the first quarter of the season.
“The plan will probably be to try and keep it all together and set it up for Nolan (Hoffman) to go for the sprint, but that all depends on the wind and the other riders. If we have a guy in the break with the right combination then we may let it go.”
Lange scoffed at suggestions Hoffman was not still competitive.
“Nolan is one of the most professional riders out there on the racing circuit. He loves to win and he loves to ride a bike, which is always something which I think makes for a successful rider.
“He still trains as hard as ever and certainly still has his speed. At the Cape Town Cycle Tour I think he was in great form and was looking to go for the win there.
“We chatted a bit before the Cycle Tour and Nolan has shed some weight, which was a bit of a problem for him in the past, and now he is very much a force to be reckoned with.”
And Lange had a special warning for the opposition riders hoping to take the win at the aQuelle Tour Durban: “He also loves racing in KZN and loves doing well and winning there.”
But the experienced team manager, who was the country’s most prolific road cycling race winner before he retired from racing in 2011, knows that things do not always go to plan – something that was evident last year at the aQuelle Tour Durban.
“Team RoadCover will probably be our biggest challenge, although I am not sure who will be at the race from their team. Brendon Davids is very strong and I would have liked to have him in any team of mine, and Brad Potgieter won last year – that actually was a bit of a surprise for us.
“We had David (Maree) in the same breakaway group and when they got away I anticipated David taking it. I was happy that there was a breakaway because I was sure David would take it.”
The 2017 aQuellé Tour Durban, presented by Bridge Fund Managers, takes place on Sunday 30 April. More information can be found at www.tourdurban.co.za.