The Takealot Tour of Good Hope‘s queen stage will offer a new challenge after late changes were made to stage four because of road works in the area.
ASG Events chief executive Erick Oosthuizen said that they were forced to revisit the route for the five-day UCI 2.2 race, which starts in Paarl on Monday, following discussions with the City of Drakenstein.
“There was no guarantee that we could get the riders through that area safely and we have had to review the second and fourth stages, taking Bothmaskloof out of the equation.”
He said stage two would be slightly longer than the original 90km, stretching to 114km, and that several “rolling hills” on the altered course would test the riders.
Stage four has been reduced from 149km to 127km, but Oosthuizen warned that the queen stage would still offer a tough ride.
“The riders will go over Bainskloof Pass early in the stage and then do a right into Slanghoek Valley before eventually coming back over Bainskloof.”
“I expect there may not be much opportunity for splits on the first two stages,” said Main, who will spearhead the South African Continental team TEG Procycling.
“That means that the team time-trial may be the first time you will see the GC start to take a bit of shape.
“I think that will really suit our guys as we have a super-strong set of riders.”
Because the team time-trial was the first of three tough days of racing, he felt that the depth of the teams would be tested from that point onwards.
Main said his objective was to try and repeat his victory from two years ago.
Other road works enforced changes to the traditional route, which resulted in the exclusion of Franschhoek and Du Toitskloof passes, have not changed his mind.
“I’m disappointed those climbs are not part of the route but it may have spiced it up a bit,” said Main, who won on Du Toitskloof in the last two years.
The team arrived in Paarl last week and Main said they did a recon of the fourth stage to wrap up their preparations.
“This race is a big one on our programme and we would love to start off our year with a bang.
The former champion conceded that there would be strong competition from other local pro teams.
“Guys who have stepped up to the plate this year are OfficeGuru with Dylan Girdlestone and Marc Pritzen, in particular, standing out.
“And then you have Clint Hendricks of ProTouch who is very versatile.”
With UCI status piquing the interest of foreign teams, Main said he hoped for increasingly tough competition in the Takealot Tour of Good Hope.
“With its new status it would be great for South African cycling to get some really good names. The race has so much to offer.”