Active Bodies – as with many of the top contending teams – is a composite of riders from other pro teams. This year it is once again spearheaded by Bradley Potgieter who raced in the National colours at the Commonwealth Games in 2018, as well as National Team members Clint Hendricks of BCX and Willie Smit of Katusha-Alpecin. It includes much of the 2017 winning squad, with the likes of Kent Main, Dawid Maree and Jayde Julius on duty. As well as the addition of seasoned campaigners HB Kruger and Shaun-Nick Bester who came over from Coronation Double Century 2017 runner’s up, Alfa Bodyworks/Giant.
The team rode an exceptionally smooth race in 2017 and worked well as a unit to finish in a record time of 04:30:12, this according to Hendricks. “We still had 11 guys until about 25km to go and only lost riders from there to the finish, because of the punctures,” he said.
While Active Bodies will be out to repeat their 2017 endeavours, Alfa Bodyworks/Giant will be looking to shed the ‘bridesmaid’ moniker (they finished second in 2016 as well). The outfit has something of a new look this year and features prolific sprinter Nolan Hoffman, his BCX team mates Steven van Heerden and Marc Pritzen as well as Shameeg Salie, Stefan de Bod, Nicol Carstens and Rohan du Plooy. The outfit is also bolstered by Dimension Data’s journeyman, Jacques Janse van Rensburg who has done duty in various Grand Tours and finished second to Daryl Impey at the 2018 National Road Champs. Janse van Rensburg’s experience will no doubt be a key factor in the team’s strategy over the 202km course, which starts and finishes in Swellendam.
However, if Alfa Bodyworks/Giant and Active Bodies go in as the two favourites, the outcome is far from a foregone conclusion with perhaps any of the top four teams capable of the win on the day.
Look out for dark horses such as team Mad Macs pb häzz out of Stellenbosch, who surprised many in 2017 to finish in third and will be gunning for a podium finish. Also, always dangerous is Bluff Meat Supply, which includes Myles van Musschenbroek from Pro Touch among other SA road pros. Private Client Holdings is back once again, as is the ASG Factory team. Freewheel Cycology Racing, although made up largely of ‘retired’ pros could also be in with a shout on the day if the likes of Charlie Keey, Stoff van Heerden, Chris Wolhuter and Raymond Cox fire on all cylinders.
The women’s category will see new champions in 2018, with the teams of Flashie Ladies – who have experienced mountain bike racers such as Mariske Strauss, Ischen Stopforth, Hanlie Booyens and Fienie Barnard as the backbone of their team – Pure Savage Ladies and STS/ Specialized Women are also vying for the crown. The top women’s teams will once again start earlier in 2018 giving them a clearer road to race.
The Mixed category is always hotly contested and 2018 will be no different. The all-star Breitling Premier team has in its ranks Nicholas Dlamini from Dimension Data, multiple mountain bike world champion Nino Schurter as well as current Ironman 70.3 World Champ, Jan Frodeno and the highly experienced Lise Olivier. Pure Savage Mixed is marshalled by multiple Coronation Double Century winner David Garret and is bound to be a fast unit, as is Aurecon.
While the first team to get six riders across the line in each category will be crowned champions, the Charles Milner medal goes to each full team of 12 riders which finish inside the allocated 10 hours. It’s a tough one to call this year as most teams make the decision on the day, as the race plays out, whether to shed riders or push for the 12-rider finish.