Gert Heyns was happy to be the first South African – in a field packed with international riders – to finish the 60km Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge in Stellenbosch yesterday.
“It was great to get the chance to compete against such a top international and local field,” Heyns told In the Bunch today.
“Even if I didn’t get a podium it was still a really good result for me.”
Heyns is among the South African riders taking part in the World Cup.
“It was something different racing so closely against these [international] guys because next week [at the World Cup] I probably won’t even see them. I will be starting right at the back.
“It will be a lot different next weekend,” he added.
The DSV rider said he surprised himself throughout the race yesterday. “I was quite surprised at how I was able to keep up most of the time.
“They [internationals] dropped me a few times, but every time I just kept it going. I was able to catch up mostly on the down hills.
“I was not too far off the pace and, riding against strong riders like that, really pushed my limits. In the end it may have made me a bit faster.”
The loose terrain in some of the winelands, said Heyns, was tricky to adjust to on the day.
“There were a lot of corners around the vineyards and I think a few riders fell. It made it very tricky to go fast without sliding.”
Yesterday’s result showed what he could do, Heyns added. “It showed I am able to ride with quite a high level of riders.
“Next week will be much harder, because I don’t have as many UCI points [as the others], but I will definitely try to catch as many riders as I can.”
He was looking forward to taking part in his first World Cup in his home town, Heyns said. “I have raced a few in Europe before, but this will be my first one as an elite rider and, on top of that, in my home town of Stellenbosch.
“It is really exciting. It is going to be a great experience.”