The 66km Elgin Valley event forms part of the Western Cape MTB Marathon Series. The route is also a component of the famous Cape Epic, which takes place in March every year.
The event will also count towards seeding for the Wines2Whales Race at the beginning of next month.
Carstens, who rides for Giant in the dirt and Alfa Bodyworks-Giant on the road, will look to utilise the race to the best of his advantage.
“My goal for the race is definitely to try and win, but also to go out and enjoy racing alongside my Giant teammate Jurgens Uys,” Carstens told In the Bunch today.
“We will be doing the Eselfontein MTB Stage Race next weekend, as well as the Wines2Whales later on.”
He will be making his debut at the race on Sunday. “I’m not very familiar with the route, but I have seen its profile and it looks really tough and rocky, which should suit me quite well,” Carstens said.
“It goes through the famous Groenlandberg, which will be in next year’s Cape Epic. This will be the perfect opportunity for me to scout the trails in advance.”
Carstens said he considered taking a break from cycling following the South African marathon championships in July after “things didn’t go according to plan”.
He then changed his focus to the last part of the year instead. “Last weekend’s two wins were very special for me,” Carstens said.
“I decided after the SA marathon champs that I would just go on with my usual training and I think currently I’m on the best form that I’ve ever been.
Although relishing both cycle disciplines, the 22-year-old from Rawsonville in Western Cape said his roots were in mountain-biking.
“I live in the Slanghoek Valley, which is perfect for mountain-biking. I feel like I do prefer mountain-biking, more so than on the road.
“But I will never stop racing on the road either, as it offers me another challenge and is something different.”