Nico Bell is hoping to get a top result at the 3 Towers stage race which takes place in and around Mbombela, Mpumalanga, starting tomorrow.
Riding for NAD Pro, Bell will team up with Matt Beers for the three-day 193km race and said he will be looking to go one better than last year.
Combrinck will also take part in this year’s event, but he will partner Wessel Botha as NAD Pro’s second pairing.
“Having two teams [taking part] will hopefully get us a good result,” Bell told In the Bunch today.
However, Bell felt they would complement each other well in the 3 Towers.
“My body is obviously a bit more fatigued, but I’m also quite an experienced rider. I think with Matt’s strength and my experience we should race quite well together.
“But the race might come down to a bit of luck at the end of the day as well, [depending on] who has the smoothest ride.”
Bell also represented South Africa at the world marathon champs recently, which meant he put in a lot of hard training beforehand.
“[Therefore] I didn’t go into worlds that fresh. I was more training towards the end of the year because we basically have a race every weekend from now on.”
From his experience last year Bell recalled that the 3 Towers was a rather technical race, saying he and Combrinck “pretty much lost it” on the opening stage.
“There are a lot of rocks and places where you can puncture,” Bell said. “It’s going to be quite hard-going up the climbs, but I think it will definitely come down to who has the least amount of issues.
“Last year we punctured on the first day and lost about 20 to 30 seconds and that was pretty much it.
“Over the next two days Matthys and Philip couldn’t ride away from us and we couldn’t get away from them.
“We couldn’t make up that time again and that was basically the race done.”
He expects PYGA to pose a threat again this year, with them also expected to enter two teams.
“I’m assuming they will also have two teams so they should be good. I think they will probably be our strongest competition.
“But hopefully we can get our second team on the podium as well. It would be great to have two teams in the top three.”
Bell and Beers last rode together in a stage race when they won the sani2c in May.
The 34-year-old suggested they would like to dust off the cobwebs at this weekend’s race.
“It’s difficult to see [where we stand]. We haven’t done a stage race together in a while,” Bell said.
“We just have to see how it goes. We have three days to make our mark again.
“Thankfully we have four riders in the team. We will always try to pair the two strongest riders at the time together which means we have the opportunity to alternate riders if one of us is struggling.
“The 3 Towers will be a good measurement of where we’re at and whether we need to change things up a bit or not.”