Stellenbosch University’s Max Sullivan and Jacques Lloyd and the University of Pretoria’s Jacques Horn are gearing up for the World University Cycling Championships starting in Braga, Portugal, on Tuesday.
Elmari de Wet, also from the University of Pretoria, will be the only woman from South Africa taking part.
The four representatives will wear their national colours.
The event will comprise a 20km individual time trial on July 31 followed by a 135km road race with 2800m of ascent on August 4. The two events will be entirely separate, without any combined times.
Sullivan said the original squad selected consisted of eight men riders and six women.
The selection was based on last year’s general classification standings in the USSA Cycling Championships, a three-day, five-event road tour.
“Then you are just required to do various races, such as your provincial and national champs, to ensure you are keeping up with your form and fitness,” Sullivan told In the Bunch today.
However, he said the squad was “whittled down” as the time grew nearer and costs were budgeted, “as with most Cycling SA events our trips are self-funded”.
“USSA as a federation do not have the capital to send us here either. Jacques Lloyd and I were very fortunate to have been supported by Maties (Stellenbosch University).
“They contributed significantly to our costs, which was great. It is a dramatically reduced squad, but at least we’re here.”
Sullivan, who was anticipating a criterium race where he has been working a lot on his sprinting, was “hit by a curve ball” when he had his first sighting of the hilly route profile.
“To see that amount of climbing – almost 3000m of ascent – was a bit demoralising, but we’re still going to go out and give it our all.
“In terms of results, personally I do not have anything in mind. I’m here to enjoy and make the most of the experience.
“Just to have made it to the start line will be an achievement after everything we have had to arrange and organise to get here.
“We are going to go out and give it our all and see what we can do,” he added.
Heyns, from Maties, will not be taking part in the world university showdown as he turned his focus to the SA national marathon championships in Grabouw on July 14, which he subsequently won.
Sullivan said it was a “great pity” Heyns could not join them in Portugal given his “flying form at the moment”.
However he said he had confidence in their ability, with Lloyd having won the green jersey on the USSA tour and finished second overall.
“We rode really well at the national student champs,” Sullivan said. “We were very in sync and we supported each other well.
“We will be doing much the same in the road race [in Portugal]. We aim to stay safe and get the best result possible.
“We don’t necessarily have a designated rider; we will all go out, help one another and do the best we can.”
Despite battling through sickness over the past two weeks, Sullivan felt the time off the bike may stand him in good stead ahead of the climb-filled race in Portugal.
“It can do me good letting my body rest up so that my legs will be fresh. We are excited,” he added.