Durban mountain biking pro Andrew Hill believes a strong field will make for a tough Liberty Winelands Encounter when the three-stage race takes place next week.
Riding for TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light, the experienced rider from Hillcrest, with new partner Marco Joubert, is aiming for spot on the podium in the Cape Winelands event, starting in Stellenbosch on April 21.
Hill said he was confident he and Joubert would work well together to challenge the main rivals.
“Marco is particularly skilful in technical areas and we will be aiming to capitalise on that to put pressure on the other guys.”
He knows, however, that there will be no easy route to the podium.
Defending champion Chris Wolhuter will be in search of another title, this time with Dylan Rebello, while Hill said Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger would also be strong contenders.
“Even though they have all just finished the Cape Epic, they are strong riders and Waylon and HB are competing very well at the moment.”
Hill, who won the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek in Addo last year, will be competing in the Winelands Encounter for the first time, but added he was familiar with the terrain.
“I have ridden a lot in the Western Cape and we know there will be a mixture of the known and the unknown, with steep climbs and sharp descents, plus plenty of single-track.”
Hill said he was happy with the first part of his season, which included winning The Herald Cycle Tour mountain bike race ahead of Joubert.
From Stellenbosch, the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, will take riders through Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington.