Reigning champion Herman Fouché will return to mount his title defence in the newly renamed Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour in Cape Town on March 9.

With entries capped at 35 000 cyclists, the world’s largest timed cycle race will once again draw a top international field to the streets of the Mother City.

At the head of the field, a focused Fouché seems to be on song after winning the Dis-Chem Ride for Sight in his hometown of Boksburg in February.

“My main goal for the start of the season is to take the Argus title again,” said the 26-year-old firmly.

“My form is on track and all the riders in Team Bonitas are on good form.”

Fouché’s ambitions suffered a slight setback however following a crash at the recent Carnival City Macsteel Classic during which one of his fingernails was torn out.

“My crash is a bit of a drawback for me, hurting my finger pretty badly, but luckily I pedal with my legs.”

The sprinter said the incident would not prevent him or his team-mates from giving their all to retain the crown.

He said only the team’s climbers would take part in the four-day Bestmed Tour de Boland, which takes place in the week leading up to the Cycle Tour.

“The rest of us will be firing up our legs at the Argus.”

Fouché said his biggest challenger on the day would probably be last year’s runner-up and 2011 champion Tyler Day of Westvaal-BMC.

Last year the Bonitas rider held his nerve in a bunch sprint to the finish to snatch victory in the 109km race in 2:39:55.

Incidentally, the fastest time belongs to Tour de France veteran Robbie Hunter, who clocked 2:27:29 in 2008.

In the women’s race, seven-time winner Anriette Schoeman (Africa Silks-Bestmed) is recovering from a bout of illness and hopes to continue what she has previously described as a “love-hate relationship” with the event.

The Cycle Tour’s Lifecycle Week kicks off with the mountain bike challenge at Le Bonheur Wine Estate in Stellenbosch on March 1 and 2.

The 2013 off-road feature races were won by RE:CM’s Erik Kleinhans and Contego’s Mariske Strauss respectively.

The 13th edition will level the playing fields as the new venue features never-ridden-before trails by well-known route builder Meurant Botha.

Staggering Cycle Tour stats

Here are some jaw-dropping statistics from the 2013 edition of the world’s largest individually timed cycle race. Entries for this year’s edition sold out in record time – less than one week.

Last year:
• 35 408 riders took part
• 27 500 of these were men and 7 908 women
• The largest foreign contingents were from the UK (952), Namibia (410), Germany (240) and the Netherlands (166)
• 150 000 litres of Coca-Cola products were consumed on race day
• 500 000 cups were used
• 7 000 bags of ice – each weighing 15kg – were used
• 440 marshals manned the course
• 245 physiotherapists worked en route and in the finishers’ tent
• 185 security guards provided their services
• 149 medical crew members did duty
• Medical support vehicles included 66 ambulances, 10 motorbikes and three helicopters
• 1 520 people received medical attention and 2 000 cotton swabs were used

Fouché’s 10 tips

Defending champ Herman Fouché shares his top 10 tips for riding your best Argus yet.

The week before:

1. Don’t train hard and long – you’re not going to get fitter in a week. Take short fast rides to wake up the legs.
2. Stay in your normal routine. Don’t try any new substances or food and stick to what you know works for you.
3. Check your bike after every ride to make sure that it is in perfect order. You don’t want to get to the start line and then discover something is wrong.
4. Two nights before the race, it is important to get a good night’s sleep. The night before I am usually stressed out and can’t stop thinking about the race.
5. Have a good dinner the night before. For me it’s pasta and chicken – food that’s not too heavy.

On race day:

1. Wake up early. You don’t want to be in a rush to eat and get to the start. Have a good breakfast as usual but don’t overdo it.
2. Do a final check on your bike before you leave for the start. Make sure your tyres are pumped, your chain is oiled and that you have your bottles, bars and the energy kick of your choice.
3. Drink and eat during the race. When you have a chance to take a sip from your bottle, do so.
4. Do your best.
5. Enjoy it.

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