Van Niekerk last month joined the French-based St Michel-Auber93 professional Continental team for 2019. Currently back in SA, he said he was eager to “support the people who support racing”.
The Rooiwal race, organised by the BSSS Cycling Club, holds some nostalgic value for Van Niekerk.
“They’re the only club in SA that still organises races. I grew up racing there and that’s where I actually learnt to race,” he told In the Bunch today.
“From junior [level] I’ve been going there, because they have races going on throughout the year, every month.
“I’d like to go to support them for the way they used to support me and for what they do for cyclists.”
He described the 92km route, which comprises a four-lap 23km circuit, as “hard”.
“You always have to keep pedalling – there aren’t any big climbs, but there are long gradual drags.
“You have to put power down the whole time; it works you. Also, on that side of Pretoria it gets really hot while you get exposed to the wind,” he said, adding that he would use the race as a “good training ride”.
“It’s a race where all the established riders in SA helped me when I was a junior and I’d like to give back in a similar way.”
Van Niekerk said he hoped some of the elite local cyclists would participate, but with the Johannesburg Track Grand Prix taking place on the same day he expected the field to be somewhat diluted.
“I think we’re going to be missing a few guys. I have spoken to some of the riders from BCX, but unfortunately they’re committed to the track.
“But some of the guys from ProTouch might come out. I’m hoping they do; it will be cool to have some of the top guys there.”
Van Niekerk has a training camp with his newly signed team in mid-December, before he returns to SA for the festive season.
He said he would return to France in the middle of January to commence the new season.