Defending champion David Maree is prepared for the challenge of handling three stages in one day when the Takealot Jock Classic cycling road race takes place at Nelspruit in Mpumalanga on Saturday.
Riding for the Enza team, the 29-year-old cyclist from Fourways in Johannesburg is the defending champion and said last year’s result meant this was a special race for him.
Starting at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, the 150km route will take riders through White River and Sabie before finishing back at the stadium.
Maree said the format of the event suited him as he was able to find his rhythm “pretty quickly”.
“That means a race of this nature fits my style,” he said. “The fact that you have to warm up for each stage does not particularly bother me as I can normally get going straight away.”
Even the morning chill of a Lowveld winter is not a problem for Maree.
“The beauty of it being a stage race is that you can layer up pretty well in the morning when it’s quite cold,” he explained.
“But once you’ve completed the first stage you can re-dress, as it normally warms up and the weather is pretty good during the day.”
Having won his first Jock Classic title last year, he said there was plenty of incentive to succeed again.
“You always want to defend a title you have won before, so I am pretty motivated to do well,” said Maree.
He admitted he had been struggling with “a bit of illness” recently, but added that their outfit had a few cards to play.
“Besides the illness my form has been pretty good. But we also have Steven van Heerden, who has been competing in America and is really strong at the moment.
“In addition our team includes a number of really promising young riders, so you may even see a surprise from them.
“Nolan Hoffman is also joining our team for this race and although the route doesn’t quite suit his style as a sprinter if he is in there at the end there will be some worried cyclists.”
Late entries for the race will be accepted at registration on Friday at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit from 2pm to 8pm.