Kent Main said he was well prepared and confident of shaking up the dominant locals teams when he lines up to start the three-day Jock Tour in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, on Friday.
“I’m really looking forward to being competitive and delivering a good result for my team,” said Main, who placed seventh last year. “I know some of the local teams have been very dominant recently, so it will be good to hopefully see someone else on the top step.”
The Tour of Good Hope winner said his recent time in Europe, where he raced the Baby Giro and Giro Valle d’Aosta in Italy, had been a steep learning curve but he was now well equipped to tackle what he termed one of South Africa’s tougher road races.
The 21-year-old cyclist signed for Dimension Data shortly after winning the five-day tour in Cape Town in March and almost immediately packed his bags for Italy.
“I’m really keen to get back into racing and the Jock will be my first race in South Africa since the Tour of Good Hope,” said Main, who described his European season as a great learning curve.
“We did some really big races and it gave me a lot of experience so I think in general my level has really improved.”
Despite his confidence, he admitted his task would be far from easy as the DiData colours would place “a target” on his back when he set out on the road stages on Saturday and Sunday.
“Without having the numbers to help, it’s going to make it harder because the pressure will be on me to do everything. I can’t conserve energy like the other general classification riders would be able to do.”
The Linden resident said his plan was to get a strong start on the opening individual time-trial, a testing 27km race against the clock between the Lowveld towns of Mbombela and Kaapsehoop.
“I’m going to take it day by day, but, if I have a strong time-trial, then there’s no doubt I’ll have a good race going into the rest of the stages.”
Without the backing of a full team, Main said he knew he would have a tough task on his hands for the second and third stages.
The Northcliff High School matriculant said he expected the tour to attract some of the country’s biggest names and predicted “some good racing”.
With teams such as RoadCover and ProTouch confirmed to start, the former RoadCover star said it would make for an interesting dynamic to compete against his old team.