RoadCover professional Clint Hendricks will be aiming to capitalise on a wave of good form when he tackles the first of his two remaining objectives for the year at the Tshwane Classic in Pretoria on Sunday.
The 26-year-old road cycling ace, who won the Cape Town Cycle Tour last year, is fresh from victory in the National Classic Cycle Race at Carnival City this past weekend.
He hit the headlines in late April when he placed fifth overall at the demanding Tour of Eritrea as a member of the national team and followed that up with a triumph at the Tour Durban in May.
Now Hendricks has his eye on the 98km feature race in Pretoria, an event he believes has great potential and one which is on his hit list.
"From what I have seen and heard, I definitely think the Tshwane Classic can become one of the big races in the country," he said.
"Certainly, the fact that there is total road closure means they are taking it seriously because there are only three or four races in the country which have that sort of thing.
"There has also been a lot of media hype around it and, in its first year, it is really up there.
"I am really looking forward to it and it's definitely one I want to win. It will keep the motivation high for the last big one of the year - the 947 Challenge (November 19)."
Hendricks, who lives in Wilgeheuwel in Johannesburg, said he felt the nature of the Tshwane Classic route would suit his style as an allrounder "who can climb a bit and sprint as well".
"I have never really considered myself a pure sprinter and on a route which is undulating, with a few climbs, it's the type of ride that suits my abilities."
He added, though, that it also created some pressure and he knew there would be tough opposition for the top spot on the podium.
The ProTouch team would always be in contention, said Hendricks, and added that a rider such as Bestmed Tour of Good Hope champion Kent Main (DiData) would be dangerous on a route that "would suit his skills".
"I am not sure who BCX will have there but they always make an impact and we will have to be wary of that."
Hendricks said RoadCover would set their strategy going into the race, but added that the situation was always flexible on the road.
"I think it's going to be a combination of a tactical plan and seeing what is in front of you and reacting to that. There are so many variables in cycling and anything can happen on the day."
One section Hendricks will be pondering is the famous Tom Jenkins climb, which comes near the end of the race at the 80km mark.
"I have never ridden it and am basically going in blind, but I have done a bit of research and have had a look at the climb, so I have an idea what sort of time I can do and the effort required.
"It's a hard climb and with just over 10km to go it is going to be a big factor."
The Tshwane Classic, which starts and finishes at the Voortrekker Monument, will also offer distances of 60km and 20km, while a series of kiddies' races will be held within the grounds of the race venue.
Go to www.tshwaneclassic.co.za for further details.
CAPTION: RoadCover professional Clint Hendricks will be aiming to continue his good form when he tackles the 98km feature race at the Tshwane Classic in Pretoria on Sunday. Photo: Memories 4 U Photography