Defending champion Willie Smit said minor changes to the Satellite Championship could make a big difference in the racing this Saturday.
Last year the event started at Saloon Route 66 but this year the new race venue will be at Maropeng and, as a result, there have been some changes to the 110km and 84km courses.
In previous editions, participants faced the notorious Hekpoort ascent 30km from the end and then had to conquer Poeierbult in the run-in to the finish.
They will now take on the smaller of the two first before reaching the base of Hekpoort with around 10km to go. Once over the top of the 4km climb, it is largely downhill to the finish.
Smit, who soloed to victory last year after breaking away on Hekpoort, said the changes would likely make for a very different race.
The national rider, who recently signed for Swiss WordTour team Katusha-Alpecin, said the route alterations would change the dynamic of the race.
He predicted the action would likely kick off right from the start, with the sprinters and slower climbers looking to get away in the early breakaways.
“I think they will try to get away long before Hekpoort because they’ll know once they get to that climb they have no chance of getting over first if they’re with the climbers,” he said.
“It’s going to be very interesting from the start and to predict anything for this race will be very difficult,” said the 24-year-old from Nelspruit.
With some of South Africa’s biggest names on the start list, including Tour of Good Hope winner Kent Main (Dimension Data) and runner-up Myles van Musschenbroek (ProTouch), Smit said they were prepared for some tough competition.
He will line up alongside teammates Bradley Potgieter, Mornay van Heerden, Ryan Harris and Clint Hendricks, who he said he would pledge his allegiance to the in-form Hendricks, who raced to a career-defining fifth place overall in the mountainous Tour of Eritrea this year.
He said Hendricks, who placed fifth overall at Tour of Eritrea earlier this year, was in good form and had been preparing hard for the weekend.
“I’ll see where I can help him and hopefully he can survive that climb.”