Some of South Africa’s top road cyclists will line up for what is set to be an ‘unpredictable’ Satellite Championship on Saturday.
Smit, who soloed to victory last year after ditching his competition on Hekpoort, said he was prepared for the tough competition but predicted the new race venue would likely make for a very different race.
Previously hosted at Saloon Route 66, the event has moved to Maropeng and, as a result, changes have been made to the 110km and 84km courses.
Although they remain largely the same, the order of the major climbs has switched around. In previous years, participants faced the notorious Hekpoort ascent 30km from the end and then had to crest Poeierbult in the run-in to the finish.
They will now take on the smaller of the two first before reaching the base of Hekpoort with around 10km to go. Once over the top of the 4km monster, it is largely downhill to the finish.
“The change of route will change the dynamic of the race,” said Smit, who recently signed for Swiss WordTour team Katusha-Alpecin for the 2018 season.
The national rider said the action would likely start far sooner, with the sprinters and slower climbers looking to get away in the earlier breakaways.
“I think they will try to get away long before Hekpoort because they’ll know once they get to that climb they have no chance of getting over first if they’re with the climbers.”
The RoadCover star said the field would tackle the final climb with tired legs and he foresaw that it would be make or break for many of the favourites.
“It’s going to be very interesting from the start and to predict anything for this race will be very difficult.”
In addition to Hendricks, Smit will line up alongside teammates Bradley Potgieter, Mornay van Heerden and Ryan Harris.
The national rider said he would ride for the in-form Hendricks, who placed fifth overall at Tour of Eritrea this year.
“I’ll see where I can help him and hopefully he can survive that climb.”
He said Hendricks had been hard at work in the recent weeks preparing for this weekend