Jacques Horn forms part of a three-man South African team who will hope to bring a touch of African flair to the World University Cycling Championships in Braga, Portugal, next week.
The University of Pretoria student will join Stellenbosch’s Max Sullivan and Jacques Lloyd for the five-day competition that comprises a time-trial and road race, while Tuks student Elmari de Wet will be the sole female representative.
“My aim is definitely to achieve a top 10 either for myself or for Jacques or Max. If we can get a South African in there it would be superb,” said Horn.
“You go there with hopes of finishing well and high, but there are so many factors that go into that.”
Horn, who had been based in Scotland since February, completed his BCom (Hons) Internal Audit degree last year and was not able to make the trip back to his home country for the University Sports South Africa championships in Pretoria recently.
Sullivan (Master’s degree: Public Administration) and Lloyd (BAcc) however had a successful stint at the tournament. Their university won the championships, while Lloyd claimed the green jersey and placed second overall.
“Last year’s USSA champs were good as I was selected for the national team there,” said Horn.
“I finished second in the time trial and fourth in the Criterium. It was a relatively good tour and always an important race in my calendar and great build-up for the second part of the season.”
Horn said as they were one of the smaller nations for next week’s road race they would not necessarily make any big moves, but rather follow ones from nations such as Belgium, France and Germany.
“We’ll take it as it comes and make sure we’re at the right spot at the right time. Also, we’ll just give it our all and make the best of each situation.”
He expected some of the biggest challenges to be the terrain, weather and the sheer magnitude of the event.
“Portugal is quite hilly and we’ll be tackling nearly 3 000m of ascent over 130km for the road race. Weather wise, the temperatures are between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius.
“It’s also lots of pressure as it’s probably one of the biggest races you’ll ever do while representing your country on the world stage.”
Horn added that his abilities did not really suit big climbs, but if it was more of a steady tempo then he could see himself sticking with the main bunch across big climbs on the day.
“I’m more a rolling hill and terrain type of rider than a pure climber, but it all depends on the racing and intensity thereof.”
Horn, who has competed internationally but will race for the first time in SA colours, said it would be a dream come true to win the championships.
“There’s always a chance. A lot of preparation goes into it and it could really set your career up. Winning the champs or one of the races in our colours is pretty big; it would mean a hell of a lot.
“It’s always been a dream to represent my country and seeing that realised will be a special moment.”
View the World University Cycling Championships schedule:
July 31: Time trial (Variante do Fojo – Braga)
August 1: XCO (Souto, Santa Maria – Guimarães)
August 2: Open day
August 3: Downhill (Armil – Fafe)
August 4: Road race (Braga/Guimarães/Braga)