Smith wants to avoid a late bunch sprint after the lesson he learned in last year’s 77km Barberton XCM MTB Challenge.
“There were only three of us bunched up toward the end and the other two outsprinted me in the final stretch,” Smith said today, recalling the race in which he finished third.
“This weekend it will be important for me to not leave it too late. I have to try building a lead earlier on.”
The Fast One lives up to its name as one of the fastest and flattest mountain-bike races in South Africa and Smith, who rides for Team Jeep, is well aware of it.
“It can be difficult to get away, but there are some sections for which you can plan ahead and devise a strategy.
“I’m not the fastest sprinter, so I have to decide when I should try to get away.”
Smith, who chased a hat-trick of Silverstar MTB Challenge wins in 2015, feels he is better prepared now than in previous years.
“I made a couple of changes to my training programme,” he said. “I began my pre-season training a little earlier this year and I’ve also started cross-fit training.
“I’m excited about my form. I feel quite good, but it’s difficult to know what you can do before you start racing.
“This is my first race of the season and a top-three finish will be good. It’s a matter of pacing myself correctly,” he added.
Smith, 25, feels Henry Uys, who won the Cycle4Cansa MTB Classic in August last year, will pose the biggest threat.
“He’s a good competitor and always on form. He’s also a fast finisher, so I won’t want to end up taking him to the line.
“It’s been a few months since my last race, so I’m excited to go out there and give it my all,” he added.