But Jefferies, 36, who has been involved in cycling management in Europe, says managing South Africans again could have its challenges. This is because the riders are from various age groups and team environments and are not used to working with him.
“We are, however, very fortunate to have senior riders at World Tour level who are great leaders and who are able to show the meaning of true teamwork on and off the bike and to set an example,” Jefferies told In the Bunch.
“This helps as we all have a common goal and hopefully an understanding that I’m there to try and bring the best out of the individual or in terms of team effort.
“For me personally it’s always been an honour to manage and be part of the national team, and to do so at the biggest one-day event in the world is a wonderful opportunity that I look forward to.”
Included in the elite men’s team are Daryl Impey, Stefan de Bod, Ryan Gibbons and Nicholas Dlamini.
“It must have been extremely hard for the selectors as we are fortunate to have so many riders who are racing either at World Tour or on the international stage at a high level.”
Byron Munton, Marc Pritzen and Jason Oosthuizen make up the U23 men contingent, while Tiano da Silva and Damon Fouchee are the junior men in the squad.
“I think in the junior and U23 age groups we have the best that SA has to offer. We have some really exciting U23 riders in the mix so it will be interesting to see how they fare on an international stage.
“That said, overall we have a complete team who are able to perform at the highest level on the type of terrain the race will take place on.”
Jefferies felt it was hard to single out any of the junior or U23 riders as most had not had season-long exposure to international racing.
But, he added, “I feel the juniors have shown an incredible amount of professionalism in their races, be it against the clock or on the road, thus far”.
“Our U23 team is packed with proven talent locally and in international races. With the right tactics there is always a possibility to achieve a top-level result.”
He said among the elite men, SA had respected and established riders from the World Tour, but he felt their chances in the time-trial may be somewhat limited.
“The road race is open cards though and we have riders who are more than capable to pull off a top result.
“In this case Daryl has shown this year he is without a doubt capable of matching the very best in the world and I feel on a demanding course like this, with the team behind him, he is most certainly capable of being in medal contention.”
With regards to which riders the team would work towards supporting or helping to win, Jefferies said he felt in the junior category too little was known to dedicate specific roles to a certain rider.
“That said, the plan will be to understand their strengths and weaknesses and determine a strategy that suits SA best.
“Regarding U23, we have three riders who are all extremely strong in their own right. They are winners by nature. Harnessing this and coming up with a strategy that suits the national team above personal interest will be the most important [thing].
“This unfortunately can only be done once I’ve sat down with them personally to decide how things will unfold on race day.
“With the elites the team selected have been put together to support Daryl, who has proven time and time again this year that he is without a doubt a serious contender for the world title. We have a limited team to support him but that said, what we do have is absolute quality.”
He added that they had to be extremely smart with how they used the few riders they had to achieve the best possible result.
“We can’t go head-to-head with the big nations who start with double the riders that we do, but what we lack in numbers I truly believe we make up for in heart, strategy and a raw desire others don’t possess.
“It will be the first time managing these riders, all of whom have a very serious understanding of the World Tour. They know what their abilities are and where they are most effective.
“Once I have sat down with them in person I feel it would be best to take all their experience mixed with my own and come up with a plan that enables us to truly get behind Daryl 100 per cent and give the best possible chance for SA to achieve a result it deserves.”
His personal expectation for the world champs was to give each rider the best possible chance to achieve his best result for the team.
“Be it from an organisational standpoint to personal motivation, as long as I can say I have given the best I can with the tools I have on offer then I will be satisfied, result or not.
“For the team I would hope to see them take this as seriously as the major nations do and to understand that, although we have many things that may go against us to acquire a top result, they look past it and truly believe in their own ability to provide the best possible version of themselves.”
This might include a designated leader getting the best possible result or the leader of the team instilling a belief that each rider is “truly capable of being a world champion regardless of anything”.
Jefferies expected them to raise their mental state realistically and to accept it was not always the strongest who won. They had to realise that if they could “vasbyt” and believe in themselves, great things were possible.
“With this mentality – truly buying into it and giving their absolute best for a common goal – then personally I can only be satisfied.”
Regarding his role as manager, Jefferies said he had the experience of not only being a former rider who understood the stresses that came with that, but had also been part of teams, both national and international.
“From Olympic medallists, former World Tour riders in our teams to riders who make their living as domestiques, all that said I have an instinct that enables me to be a better manager than I was ever a rider, the ability to see a rider’s potential or listen to problems, insecurities and get the very best out of them.
“This is not something you can study for or get an accreditation for, it’s a feeling. And it’s something I follow and has been proven to work if you and the athlete trust each other.
“It must be said that it’s hard for an athlete to fully trust someone they hardly know, be it as a teammate or sports director. This said, we’re all South African and have a common goal and I hope this speeds up the process of trust to achieve the best results possible.”
He added that motivation was something one could not contrive.
“It’s a feeling of the situation combined with belief in the strategy, mixed with the riders who can complete it.
“Basically it’s the riders who have to trust you, to buy into what you’re telling them they are capable of doing. My hope is that they see me as a person who doesn’t make up things, but sees them for the people they are and the potential they have to offer.
“If they believe in that then they will believe in the motivation they hear.”