Cycle Nation’s Joanna van de Winkel is optimistic about her team’s chances this year in light of their recent successes at the provincial and national road champs.
“We’re sort of on a roll and we want to use that positive attitude and motivation heading into this race,” she told In the Bunch today.
“We’ve recently signed Juanita and Zanri [Rossouw] for this year, which has strengthened our team from last year. I’m very positive about how this year will be for us.”
The 37-year-old however admitted they lacked a specialist sprinter, which she was mindful of ahead of a flat race like Ride for Sight.
“Our plan is to not leave it for a bunch sprint,” she said. “We made that mistake at the Fast One cycle race.
“We were quite up there in terms of making the racing, but because it [ended] in a bunch sprint we didn’t actually feature on the podium.
“This will be another race in that same area, which is fairly flat and quite long and which will make it tougher.”
She said they aimed to use their strengths by forcing breakaways and splitting the group up.
The Pietermaritzburg local said she expected another competitive race on Sunday, with riders from all over SA taking part in an attempt to improve their chances of receiving national selection.
The Boksburg race is the first of 10 events in the first half of the year that are classified as qualifiers towards national selection for the UCI road world champs in the United Kingdom in September.
“I’m excited to see the number of women entering the races,” Van de Winkel said. “The competition is more this year and that’s quite exciting for women’s cycling.
“We’ve got some of the older riders. We’re quite experienced and we’re hoping to use that to our advantage.”
With that in mind and considering the course conditions, Van de Winkel expects Demacon’s Kim le Court and Carla Oberholzer, as well as Liezel Jordaan and Maroesjka Matthee to pose the biggest threats.
“Our objective is to make it as hard as possible for those riders so that it doesn’t end up in a bunch sprint.”
She added that Venter or Cashandra Slingerland would be the most likely riders to orchestrate a breakaway for the team.
“We’re confident and we have brought the excitement and motivation from our successes in the last few weeks into this race.
“It’s always good to be positive while believing you can do well.”