Van Heerden is representing South Africa alongside his two teammates – Gustav Basson and Jan Montshioa – but he feels their low numbers could put them at a disadvantage.
Most of the other countries taking part have six- to eight-man teams. “It will be difficult, as three riders, to compete against the other bigger teams,” Van Heerden said.
“We don’t even have any set goals, but we would still like to get a decent result. We will just have to give it our all and see what we can manage on the day.”
Van Heerden, who won the King of the Mountains title and placed in the overall top 10 at the Sharjah Tour three weeks ago, is readying himself for an erratic 14 laps of the 12km circuit.
“The laps are very punchy. There are a few dangerous downhills, which should make the race interesting.
“There won’t be much flat track; you will either go up or down.
“The heat here [in Rwanda] is very humid too and should have a big influence on how the race will play out. It will be important to stay hydrated from the start.”
Van Heerden pointed out hosts Rwanda and Eritrea as the biggest threats ahead of the race.
“Eritrea have WorldTour riders such as Mekseb [Debesay] and Amanuel [Werkilul Ghebreigzabhier].
“His teammates Samuel [Mugisha] and Adrien [Niyonshuti] will also be dangerous,” added Van Heerden.
Van Heerden finished sixth in the 40km individual time-trial on Thursday, with Basson placing 10th, but he was dissatisfied with his performance.
“I’m not happy with the result,” he said. “My legs weren’t there on the day, but I still pushed through under the circumstances. I hope to improve in the road race.”