Top local cyclist Conrad Viljoen will have his eye on a hat-trick of wins in the main event of the Mecer-NMMU Cycle Tour when he arrives at the start line on Sunday.

The 24-year-old, who is fresh from winning the Makro-Fujitsu-Siemens Cycle Tour two weekends ago, said yesterday he was in the best shape of his life and looking forward to the challenge.

“I feel quite confident of a good result as my condition is as good as it has ever been,” he said. “I’ve ridden several races countrywide in preparation and I feel race fit.”

Apart from top out-of-town riders who might enter, the leader of the Mecer-NMMU team named Toyota-Cycle Lab’s Stephen Pugh as a rider to watch in the 100-kilometre event.

“I think the course will suit Stephen (Pugh) down to the ground. He is an excellent climber and he just recently won the National Defence Tour in Oudtshoorn.”

Viljoen also pointed at the fact that Pugh would be able to count on the support of one of the strongest teams in the province. “A rider like Jade Muller will be able to help him on the climbs and if everything stays together, Kevin Dorfling is one of the fastest finishers.”

Viljoen himself will be surrounded by arguably the strongest team in the province this year. Riders like Stephan Strauss and Andrew Crossman, who are both good climbers, are sure to be in the thick of things towards the latter stages.

Although the course – with two major climbs at Beachview and towards Colleen Glen – is regarded as relatively tough, Viljoen believes the wind this time of year could be as disruptive.

He predicted the bunch with the main favourites would stay together until Beachview, at which point the teams aiming for the win would have to show their cards.

In the women’s race, perennial favourite Anriëtte Schoeman (Proline) will also be aiming for her third win on the trot.

A 45-kilometre fun ride will be held in conjunction with the main event. Registration is from 2pm to 4pm on Saturday at the NMMU Athletics Clubhouse, South Campus, where both events will also start.

For more information, or for late entries, contact race organiser Theresa le Roux on 082 773 9892 or 041 504 3145.

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