The Takealot Tour of Good Hope‘s queen stage will remain a major test for the riders despite some changes to the route because of road works in the area.
ASG Events chief executive Erick Oosthuizen said the changes were made for the five-day UCI 2.2 race, which starts in Paarl on Monday, after consultation with the City of Drakenstein.
“Because of that we had to review the second and fourth stages, taking Bothmaskloof out of the equation.”
He said stage two would be slightly longer, changing from 90km to 114km, and that several “rolling hills” could up the ante considerably.
Stage four has been reduced from 149km to 127km, but Oosthuizen warned that the queen stage would present a stiff test as it included two climbs over Bainskloof Pass.
“The riders will go over Bainskloof Pass early in the stage and then eventually come back over it later on,” he said.
Kent Main, 2017 winner and runner-up to Stefan de Bod last year, believed the 26.5km team time-trial on day three would be important in their strategy.
“I expect there may not be much opportunity for splits on the first two stages,” said Main, who will spearhead the South African Continental team TEG Procycling.
“That means that the team time-trial may be the first time you will see the GC start to take a bit of shape.
“It’s not an easy course and now that it is a team time-trial it’s going to be pretty hard to keep everyone together without breaking up the rhythm.”
Main said his objective was to try and repeat his victory from two years ago.
Other road works enforced changes to the traditional route, which resulted in the exclusion of Franschhoek and Du Toitskloof passes, have not changed his mind.
“I’m disappointed those climbs are not part of the route but it may have spiced it up a bit,” said Main, who won on Du Toitskloof in the last two years.
“It’s going to be interesting because we have some new guys in our team. There may be a bit of inexperience, but we definitely have riders who are strong enough to support me or someone else if we are in a good position.”
The former champion conceded that there would be strong competition.
“Guys who have stepped up to the plate this year are OfficeGuru with Dylan Girdlestone and Marc Pritzen, in particular, standing out.
“And then you have Clint Hendricks of ProTouch who is very versatile. He can climb, he can sprint, do pretty much everything and it will be interesting to see how he goes.”