RoadCover professional Willie Smit has identified the Hekpoort climb as a critical stage to push for victory when the Bestmed Satellite Classic road cycling race takes place near Hartbeespoort Dam in North West on October 22.
The 23-year-old rider from Nelspruit, who has not done the Satellite Classic since 2013, said he was looking forward to an event which had gained an excellent reputation over the years.
Besides the feature race over a distance of 106km, it offers 80km and 60km options and attracted well over 3 000 participants last year.
“It’s one of the better-known races which has been around for a while because I remember doing it as a 16-year-old, although the route was a bit different,” he said.
Positioned about 30km from the finish, Smit said Hekpoort was certainly a tough enough climb to rip the elite bunch to pieces.
“So if you can get over there in the lead group, and you have the right team-mates with you, it will be much easier to push for the win.”
Although the main ascent of the day was followed by another nasty uphill test in Poeierbult, Smit felt the race “should be decided on Hekpoort”.
He added that, after a long year, which included team-mate Clint Hendricks’s Cape Town Cycle Tour victory in March and his in the three-stage Bestmed Jock Tour in July, it was important to pace themselves properly at this stage of the season.
“The Satellite Classic is a nice one to win, but we have to keep something in the tank for next month’s 947.”
Smit said the Satellite played a very important role in testing their form and power output ahead of one of the country’s premier national classics.
The RoadCover leader, who was out for several months after suffering a crash in the Tour de Bretagne in France in April, said he was in good condition.
“Most of our tours are over winter, so I’m pretty sure most of the guys will be in good form,” said Smit, who has just returned from a multiday race on the island of Reunion.
“For me, it is all about my weight because everything is about power to weight ratio.
Even if I’m training hard, I just end up losing power when my weight isn’t correct,” said the all-rounder, who admitted he was feeling good.
Smit said he expected a challenge from riders such as JC Nel and Neil Robinson, who race under the ProTouch banner.
“Neil is pretty quick at the finish, but I do not know at this stage who the other top riders are. It’s mainly about seeing who pitches up on the day.”
Although online entries have closed, late entries will be accepted from 9am to 5pm on October 20 at Cyclelab Fourways and from 9am to 5pm on October 21 at The Bicycle Company in Centurion.