The opening stage of this year’s Takealot Jock Classic will be slightly easier than last year, with Brondal Road near White River back in the mix for the three-stage one-day road cycle race on July 13.
That is the view of ASG Events chief executive Erick Oosthuizen, after that section, about 20km into the race, was ruled out last year due to roadworks.
Taking place from Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, one of the country’s longest-running cycling events will cover 150km, but has the unique format of set starting times for each stage.
Starting and finishing at the Mbombela Stadium, the route takes the riders through the Lowveld towns of White River and Sabie.
Oosthuizen said the route had a slightly different look from last year.
“Brondal Road was inaccessible due to roadworks last year, but its inclusion has made the undulating nature of the stage easier and flatter,” he said.
He added that he thought the 45.3km second stage from White River to Sabie could be decisive in determining the final outcome.
“If you lose ground on stage two during the Spitskop climb you’ll lose time which I feel contenders should guard against,” said Oosthuizen.
“Admittedly the Long Tom Pass on stage three is a tough climb and cyclists will have already ascended 2 000m by the time they get there.
“But it comes early in the stage and there is still time to get back if you are slightly off the pace.”
The race’s format does have a specific set of challenges, with cyclists having to keep up their energy levels for the start of each leg.
“The resting time is ample,” said Oosthuizen, “but it takes its toll on you. My advice is to try to ride within yourself, unless you are used to stopping on long rides.
“There is a fair amount of climbing to do, so make sure you are happy with your gear ratio.”