Although his year has been disrupted by injuries and illness, Reynard Butler said his ProTouch team were ready for the challenge when he defends his title in the East Rand Classic next weekend.
Formerly known as the Emperors Palace Classic, the 98km feature race takes place in Kempton Park in Johannesburg on April 28.
Although his programme this year has not unfolded perfectly, the 31-year-old Butler said ProTouch were eager to get a win under their belts.
“Personally it’s been a bit up and down because I crashed out when racing in Gabon earlier in the year and had to withdraw due to injuries,” he said.
“I wasn’t really in top form at the Takealot Tour of Good Hope or the Cape Town Cycle Tour and I have just got back from the race in Morocco (Tour du Maroc) where I had to pull out due to illness. So it’s been a rocky start for me personally.
“But the team has been doing really well and we will obviously be aiming for the top spot next week.”
Women’s champion Kim le Court, riding for Demacon MaxWax Racing, has won the last two editions and will be looking to make it three in-a-row next Sunday.
Although the team have not dominated the South African scene to the extent they did last year, Le Court has not finished off the podium this season and it’s a trend she wants to continue.
She added that the team had taken a break since the Cape Town Cycle Tour last month, but that they would be ready for next week’s challenge.
“We will get together next week and discuss our strategy for the event,” said Le Court.
“It has been a pretty good race for me, with the finishing stretch on a pretty level drag and that suits my style as a sprinter.
“It’s a race I have always enjoyed and I’m looking forward to another test in fast conditions.”
The East Rand Classic, which has a new start and finish venue at the Acsa parkade adjacent to the OR Tambo International airport, also offers a 48km road option, while the 50km and 25km mountain-bike events will take place on April 27.