The 24-year-old Team RoadCover rider showed his ability by winning the road race in the African Continental Championships in Egypt at the weekend and is now focused on the five-day tour in the Cape Winelands.
Presented by Scicon and the City of Drakenstein, the 490km race from March 6 to 10 will see many of South Africa’s top riders, mixed with international contenders, competing for the newly named Phil Liggett Tribute trophies.
Smit, who secured the bronze medal in the road race at the national championships recently, confirmed their intention to prove themselves in the Cycling South Africa-sanctioned event.
“We are aiming for the overall classification win,” he said. “Stage victories and winning jerseys are good, but our mindset is to target the overall GC.”
Smit, who lives in Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, suffered a broken collarbone and shoulder muscle injuries after an accident in France last year, but is back in business and eager to prove his worth against high quality opposition.
The Bestmed Jock Tour winner from last year said he was grateful he could compete again, thanks to the “good team structure behind me”.
Having won a number of road races in South Africa, he said victory in the Tour of Good Hope was one of his priorities.
“I have only competed in it once before so this is definitely a big mark on my bucket list.
“Of course, I can’t do it on my own and I need my team to be in good shape as well.”
Although pleased with his Continental title, Smit said the timing of the event was not ideal in terms of his training.
“It did hinder me a bit because for a race like the Tour of Good Hope you need to get in the right training.
“There was a lot of travelling, but it is what it is and you just have to deal with it.”
RoadCover manager Nic White said the Tour of Good Hope was an important week for the outfit.
“This event has many good teams competing, but we have the ability to excel in tour races,” he said. “Obviously Willie Smit stands out, but we have a number of other riders with the potential to feature.”
While echoing Smit’s goal of claiming the overall win, White said they knew it was not a case of just “pitching up”.
“Dimension Data were really good last year and (defending champion) Stefan de Bod is on his home turf.
“Telkom are also capable and then you have some very good international riders in the mix, who will certainly be in for the kill if they have the chance.”