The pro field for South Africa’s most prestigious road race, the Cape Town Cycle Tour, is the deepest in years, especially in the women’s race. “I cannot wait to race on Sunday,” commented Candice Lill, who won the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge on Saturday, 2 March. “Road racing is not my strength but my Absa Cape Epic partner, Adelheid Morath, will be here, so we will be working hard for a solid result,” she said.
The women’s race will once again feature a Women’s Only Invitational start group, with all the elite and top-seeded U23 women having the option to start at Recreation Road in Fish Hoek. The full distance will be 78km and, as with the first experimental run in 2018, this will ensure a clear run all the way to the finish without traffic from any of the men’s groups.
Lill is under no illusions as to what it would take to do the unprecedented double. “There are some very strong teams this year and the racing is going to be fast and tactical,” she said, highlighting the likes of team Team Demacon MaxWax Racing (featuring 2018 defending champion Kim Le Court as well as young gun Heidi Dalton), as well as Sandton City Cycle Nation who has in its ranks Michelle Benson who recently won the 116km Ride for Sight, as well as Olympian Joanna Van De Winkel, former SA Individual Time Trial champion Juanita Venter and Zanri Rossouw who has had an impressive 2019 so far.
You can also never discount the experience of multiple Cape Town Cycle Tour champion, Anriëtte Schoeman or for a climber such as Catherine Colyn to get away on a break. Also adding some international flavour is Welsh track star and Olympic gold medalist Elinor Barker. If it comes down to a bunch sprint and she is in the mix, there will be few who could hold her wheel.
With various team changes last year, the men’s racing will prove just as interesting.
Defending champion Nolan Hoffman will be looking to lead his Enza Construction team to the line for fourth win. Hoffman made his intentions clear by winning the first stage of the Takealot Tour of Good Hope earlier this week after team mate Steven van Heerden brought back a late break.
Hoffman and his team will have their work cut out for them by the bigger teams however. The Pro Touch continental team features 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour winner Clint Hendricks and 2018 runner-up Reynard Butler, both of whom the team will be working hard to deliver him to the finish. Alfa Bodyworks-Giant has a good mix of experience and young fire and will be working hard to have young gun Byron Munton, who won the Medihelp Stellenbosch Cycle Tour in January, in the mix.
“The Cape Town Cycle Tour win is priority for our team so we will give it our all on the day,” Munton commented. “Depending on how the race plays out, we will decide who we ride for on the day.”
Another team to keep a close eye on is Investec Songo Specialized, made up of a host of international mountain biking stars including the links of Sam Gaze (New Zealand) who finished third in 2018 and South Africa’s Alan Hatherly, who won the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge this past Saturday.
There is also a host of dark horse riders and smaller teams who will be looking for a surprise break to stay away, unlikely to let any breakaway get away however is Team Dimension Data’s star climber Nicholas Dlamini.
Watch the racing unfold on the livestreaming on www.capetowncycletour.com