Andrew Hill will not be taking the four-stage 328km PE Plett lightly when it starts in Kurland tomorrow, finishing at the Crossways Farm Village on Sunday.
“It’s a really tough race and I think many people underestimate it,” he said today. “The route can be really unpredictable, which makes for hard riding.
“Last year one of the winning times was up to four-and-a-half hours, which is similar to a full day at the Cape Epic.
“I hope to get all the way through without any mechanicals, and with that, the top step of the podium.”
Riding solo this time round, he said his strategy was to race hard with the teams. “It will be good to race hard against them, as well as against the other solo guys.
“Having a partner is almost like a race within a race – you have to worry about your partner most of the time. You ride either as the slower or faster person, so the pressure is different.”
“I haven’t done a four-day race yet this year and it will be interesting to see how my body reacts.
“My one-day form is fine at the moment, but for me it’s still a little bit unknown how I will be able to carry myself throughout.
“It’s still relatively early in the season, so I haven’t reached that high intensity I will reach later in the year. I’m still building up on the racing side.”
He is not sure who to watch out for in the solo field, but has planned to hold his own against the team of Shaun-Nick Bester and Declan Sidey.
“I will try to stick with them and see what the pace is like. That could hold me to a good position, because they’re strong riders,” Hill said.
“Stuart [Marais] and Marco Joubert are not taking part this year, which eliminates two certain threats.”
The TIB Insurance rider is looking forward to the race. “It’s always nice to race in different areas – the coastline is just amazing – and it is so different to where I am from [in KwaZulu-Natal].
“I will be spoilt for views and indigenous forests; there is so much variety and that is what is good about this race.”