The 23-year-old BCX pro showed his prowess on the track when he was crowned points champion at both the African Continental Championships in Durban and national champs in Cape Town recently.
Now, with the Emperors feature race taking place in his stamping ground of Kempton Park, he is hoping to use his familiarity with the conditions to make an impact in the 98km contest.
“Obviously it’s different to the track but the speed you build up in track training can complement your road preparations, although you still need the road background and the miles to pull it off,” he said.
After the cancellation of the Cape Town Cycle Tour due to heavy winds last month, Van Heerden said many riders would use the Emperors to make their mark.
“It is one of the major races on the calendar and many riders will want to use the hard training they put in for Cape Town for the Emperors.”
Van Heerden said the race would be closely contested on a fast course, although he added the wind could be a factor.
“I think the wind could play a big role going out towards Heidelberg and then towards the end things can get pretty nervous as the guys start jostling for position.”
With RoadCover’s Bradley Potgieter defending his title, Van Heerden acknowledged there would be stiff competition.
“Our team is a strong one and we did well at the SA and continental champs, but there are some very good riders out there.”
The Emperors Palace Classic racing weekend starts off with 25km and 50km mountain bike events on the Saturday before culminating with 48km and 98km road races the next day.