“I was obviously very happy to defend my title. There was quite a lot of pressure on me before the race,” Van Heerden told In the Bunch today.
“Everyone knew I was there to defend my title so I was a marked man.”
He said the 40km, 160-lap race did not go “according to plan as such”, but added that he was relieved it worked out in his favour in the end.
“At the beginning David, Nolan [Hoffman], George [Perrins] and Oupa [Maluleke] managed to take a lap and the racing became quite fast after that,” Van Heerden recalled.
The 25-year-old said Maluleke and Perrins soon fell back, which left himself, Maree and Hoffman fighting it out in a game of cat and mouse.
“We had an extra lap on the bunch and from there we just wanted to see how it went,” he said.
“I was under pressure a bit halfway through the race, but then eventually the legs came to me towards the end.
“I managed to take a lap with David and then more towards the end; another lap with Nolan. I ended up taking three laps on the bunch, which I was happy with.”
This specific discipline allocates the top four riders points based on their positions every 10 laps. Each rider then accumulates points on all the intervals and at the end their totals decide the final standings.
Positioning on each final lap sprint played a vital role, Van Heerden said.
“It’s quite difficult, especially on a short steep track,” he said. “If you miss a split second of reaction it’s difficult to correct.
“Luckily it played to my favour in that the moves went at the right times in the right positions.”
He said the bunch of 17 riders was smaller than usual, which made for “much faster racing”.
The BCX rider said the recovery time between every 10-lap interval was a challenge.
“You need to, or want to, recover, but at the same time you can’t just sit up and ease off,” Van Heerden said.
“Also with the small bunch we had there would only be three or four guys coming through and then it’s your time again at the front.
“It was difficult in that regard,” he added.