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Climbers set to star

With cyclists beginning to gather in Pietermaritzburg for the Msunduzi Road Challenge this weekend, the stronger hill climbers look set to dominate the road race, which is Africa’s leg of the newly formed UCI World Cycling Tour, replacing the old Masters World tour.

That’s the opinion of multiple-gold medal winner at the Masters World Champs Mike Adey, who regularly rides the route that will host the 90, 111 and 126 kilometer road races on Sunday. The 126km race, of which 52.1km of the course involves climbing, has a highest point of 1059.4m above sea level, at the 77km mark.

ÔÇ£The route will certainly be challenging and it will probably suit those guys who can climb well,ÔÇØ said Adey. ÔÇ£If the rest of the guys can’t stay close to the moves there are also plenty opportunities for them to reel their way back in if they work together. Not every hill is suited to just the climbers however. There are so many hills it will eventually wear down those guys who struggle up the hills.ÔÇØ

The 126km route that will host much of the serious competitive racing in the senior category and masters age groups up to 50 years of age includes a number of significant hills, including the key steep climb out of Pietermaritzburg along Baynes Drift Road, out towards Albert Falls Dam, and Bruyn’s Hill.

ÔÇ£Because there being so many hills I don’t think it will be a particularly fast course and endurance will certainly be a massive factor,ÔÇØ Adey explained. ÔÇ£The guys packed with good endurance will certainly come back into the race later on whilst the guys who are used to the normal 90-100km classics will certainly be challenged in a different way this weekend.ÔÇØ

As a regular on the route Adey said there is plenty of time for riders to enjoy the scenic course. ÔÇ£With all the uphills come just as many downhills, which will give the guys the chance to ease back a little and enjoy the really pretty terrain that the course will take them through. Once the guys get out of the city there really are some very attractive stretches surrounded by nature and open bushveld.ÔÇØ

While the race is brand new on the calendar, it has been awarded the finals of the UCI World Cycling Tour next year, giving local riders a gilt-edged chance to qualify for the 2012 finals by finishing in the top 25% of their class.

Adey feels that the local riders will have a slight edge on the riders that will be travelling from further afield. ÔÇ£The locals will certainly have a slight advantage with them knowing all the hills,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£They are used to having to ride out of the hollow all the time, but those guys from Gauteng and the Cape are tough. The Jo’burg guys also have the advantage of riding at altitude so they love our oxygen when they come here.ÔÇØ

Adey tipped local stars Werner Moolman and Bryan Cusack of Westville and Pietermaritzburg locals Brett Berriman and Trevor Thompson to fare well on the weekend. ÔÇ£But watch out for upcountry guys like Neville Ackermann, Andrew McLean, Moolman Welgemoed, Gary Beneke and his brother Mark if he comes down,ÔÇØ Adey added.


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