Marais, who won the overall TransCape MTB title a few weeks ago, said the event was one of his main goals when he started the season.
“I always love racing in these world cups; they have a different vibe to other races. With all the different international riders and so many spectators, the event always ensures a fantastic occasion.”
He clearly does not underestimate the challenge that awaits him in the seven 4.4km-lap race.
“The world cups are always a different kettle of fish. With so many riders on such a short course there is usually a lot of traffic,” Marais said.
“In your course preparation, you cannot just identify the fastest line and go for it. In this type of race the ‘fastest’ line may not always be the fastest line if 50 other guys are also going for it.
“It will be quite important to look for alternative routes in case there is traffic or if you need to make a drastic detour.”
Marais gained some knowledge of the course from racing on it in the SA MTB Cup Series XCO opener just over a month ago.
“I kind of know what to expect,” he said. “There are minor differences, but what I do know is that it should get more and more dusty and powdery as the race unfolds.
“We probably have a better understanding of what to expect in comparison to the Europeans, for instance.
“It did not take too long to find the lines and get a good feel for the course.”
Marais has raced in three European world cups before – in Germany, France and Czech Republic – and he will be seeded 48th in Stellenbosch tomorrow.
“Starting 48th is the best I have ever been seeded,” he said. “Realistically, my goal for the event is to finish in the top 30 or 40.”
Despite suffering a minor crash in a race in Howick last weekend, Marais is feeling confident in his ability ahead of the race.
“I hurt my wrist a little bit and I will probably ride with a brace on tomorrow.
“In terms of form, this is probably the best I have been my whole life. I’m pushing the best numbers I have ever done.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes tomorrow and to racing on home soil for a change.”