The opening leg of the Beachfront Lodges Premier Cycling League in Port Elizabeth on Saturday will suit Walmer Club’s veteran sprinter Wayne Pheiffer down to the ground.
Cycling expert Theo von Ruben said yesterday that the five-lap, 82-kilometre largely flat Butterfield circuit was tailor-made for a bunch finish and that it would suit wily sprinters like the former Bok star.
“The finish calls for experience,” he warned. “The last five kilometres are particularly tricky.”
Von Ruben said positioning and timing would be everything on the undulating and fast run-in to the line. “I see it as a long, three-phase sprint and therefore the rider who gets himself to the front at the right time will have the best chance.”
He said if the bunch stayed together, Pheiffer would have a better than even chance of taking the honours. Von Ruben named Toyota-Cycle Lab’s Doug Shadwell as his dark horse.
“If he got away towards the finish and there is some indecision in the bunch, they may never see him again.”
However, Von Ruben ultimately reverted to the formbook in naming his race favourite. “Conrad Viljoen (Mecer-NMMU) is clearly the top rider in the province at the moment and I won’t bet against him.”
He said Viljoen won the Makana Brick race over a similar distance in Grahamstown on Sunday in impressive style and bagged his second Eastern Province elite title over 138km two weeks prior to that.
“His (Viljoen) best chance will be to win off the front or from a small group and therefore the onus will be on his team to make the racing early on in order to split the race wide open.”
The league pits the top six riders from each club against each other and is a showpiece of what the province has to offer, said Von Ruben. “I’m extremely excited as this elevates the profile of elite cycling to where it is supposed to be.”
Anyone can enter the 49km Cycle Challenge that starts five minutes after the main race and covers three laps of the same circuit. Registration for both races is at 1pm at Grassmaster in Kragga Kamma Road, with racing starting at 2pm.
For more information, contact Shane Bradfield on 074 114 4811.
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