The 37-year-old said she would love to win it.
“I don’t feel that I have had a great start to the year in terms of results (podium places) but I have to keep putting it in perspective in terms of my priorities and the first few races have been easier, flatter courses suited more to the sprinters.
“I am joining a FirstRand charity ride down to Durban on Thursday, so I’m going to have some miles in the legs but I’m still game to try and win.”
Van de Winkel said she had won this race before, although it might have been before she had children, and then she came second to Carla Oberholzer last year. But each time had been on a slightly different route.
“The route for the 109km race has changed this year. It looks like the last 20km will be a lot of climbing, which will suit me.
“It will just be myself and Cashandra [Slingerland] racing for the Cycle Nation Sandton City team, so we’ll have to race smart against the larger teams.”
Van de Winkel said there were quite a few challenges to the start of her year, so she had not set many goals at the time.
“I was focusing over December on enjoying my bike again and emotionally resetting after a difficult month.
“It [Berge & Dale] is a course that is suited to my strengths and there are not many difficult climbing races in SA, so I’d like to do well.”
In a recent Facebook post she also mentioned that she had discovered over the years that there was no perfect work-life ‘balance’ and one had to constantly adjust as priorities in life changed.
“Last year I had some big cycling ambitions again and ended Worlds in the UK (after racing for six weeks internationally in 2019) with the aim to race again in the EU this year, try to make the Olympic team as well as look at opportunities for other young riders to join me in the EU to mentor.
“Then I went through a work restructure, and several stressful job interviews. Tijl lost his job and we had some decisions to make regarding new schools for the kids and I had no idea how much extra work Grade 1 was with homework and a hectic sports schedule of their own.”
She added that it was hard for her to give up her cycling ambitions.
“I scraped through the last few races of the year in 2019 and then hung my bike up, not sure if I would still race this year.
“It only took a week before I realised that I missed cycling.
“I have always juggled many things in life, always keeping my priorities in mind: God, my family, my work and cycling. I am passionate about all of them and ambitious to do the best/be the best I can be in each of these areas in my life.
“Maybe God was trying to turn my life upside down for a reason. We have been there 100% for our kids as they started at new schools this year. Tijl and I were able to work on our marriage while he had more time as ‘house-husband’ for a few months.
“Then Tijl found a job close to home about two weeks ago and I was offered a great new opportunity at work. I am really enjoying my cycling again without any pressure and there are other opportunities locally that I’m really excited about.
“I also feel that it is the right decision to put more energy into supporting other riders and giving them the opportunities that I have had in the past. I have been to Olympics, Worlds, Giro, raced in a pro-team – which was an amazing experience – and I’d love other riders to have these same opportunities.”
She added that she was feeling enthusiastic and excited for this year.
“I have made peace with the decision to contribute as much as I can to the local racing in SA and support other young/upcoming riders where I can.
“I loved the opportunity to race in the EU last year but I will not be joining an international team this year due to family commitments.”