Sarah Hill and Danielle Strydom are primed to make an impact when they compete in the Wines2Whales mountain-bike race that starts at Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West, Western Cape, on Friday.
The 26-year-old Hill, who usually races with Theresa Ralph, said both she and Strydom were strong on the technical sections and “love to suffer”.
“When racing with Theresa we rely on our opposites in strength but with Danielle I think we’ll complement each other in every aspect,” said Hill.
“It will be the first time that I race with someone, well, just like me.”
The Joburg resident said her normal Galileo Risk teammate had a prior commitment this weekend, which left her in need of another partner.
“It’s been an awesome year seeing all the potential partners but, in the end Galileo Risk wanted to invest in the future of South African female racing.
“I’ve watched Danielle over the last couple of years transform into an incredibly competitive female.
“She shows so much promise and I just kept thinking ‘when I was her age what would have helped me the most?’ ”
She said Ralph had been her support at the start of her professional career and what she had learnt from her was priceless.
“Now I find myself in a position to do the same for someone who I believe could thrive from a partnership.”
She said although 20-year-old Strydom was faster than she was when she was her age, the opportunity, exposure and experience would be amazing for her.
“I’m excited to be racing with such a special talent and proud to be representing an all-South African team at an internationally recognised event.”
The Cape Pioneer champion said she was also looking forward to them being the “ankle-biters” of the race.
“As new partners we’ll have a whole range of new experiences to go through and no one is really sure of our strength. And honestly, neither am I!”
She said it would be Strydom’s first Wines2Whales race and her new partner was “buzzing with excitement”.
“It’s not like every other stage race on the calendar. There are long uphills that we climb – and run!
“It boasts amazing single descents, ever-changing terrain and the possibility of wet weather.”
On top of that, it’s an all UCI women-classified event.
“We need to be exposed to this standard of racing. We’re here to grow and will use the lessons learnt in our races to come.”
She said it was a privilege to be competing against women of such high calibre.
“For an event so late in the season it’s awesome to see the girls come out and do what they do best! I always crave more women power at stage races, so this will be amazing!”
When asked about the R252 500 in prize money up for grabs, she said with a chuckle, “It’s a lot of money.
“It’s great because it attracts a world-class field and without it the racing standard wouldn’t be there.”
Hill, who won the Trans Baviaans with Ralph earlier this year, said her season would not be coming to an end with Wines2Whales.
“Most girls finish off with this race, but this year I’m stretching it all the way through to the end of November.”
She said the three-day event would be her final stage race of the year and would hold a special place for her in 2019.
“There is so much to celebrate and look back on but Theresa and I have also started formulating our 2020 plans.”
The Cape Epic was top of the list for the first quarter of 2020, she said.