Youth vs Experience at 2023 Cape Town Cycle Tour Men’s Elite Race - Cape Town Cycle Tour

Youth vs Experience at 2023 Cape Town Cycle Tour Men’s Elite Race

The elite men’s race at this year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour will come down to youth versus experience.

The challengers in the field range from 37-year-old Nolan Hoffman, a four-time winner, to 23-year-old Marc Pritzen, the 2022 Cycle Tour champion and rising star on the global cycling scene.

Former National Road Race Champion and elder statesman of South African road cycling Jaco Venter will also be lining up on the start line, as well as the experienced Jacques Janse van Rensburg, another former South African road champ and one-time Grand Tour rider. Both will be contenders on the day due to their intimate knowledge of road racing at the highest level.

Team DMS riders Kent Main and Gustav Basson will be among the “youth league” hoping to keep the seasoned riders at bay. 

Main is in good form after finishing fifth on the GC at the Tour of Rwanda this February and winning the recent Tour Du Cap. While he’s only finished in the Cycle Tour top 20 in the past (often having worked hard for teammate winners) he believes he has recovered well this week from the Tour du Cap efforts. “I have done my utmost to be in great shape for this weekend,” he says. “We are expecting a good positive race and the team has been brilliant last week so we are expecting a great result on Sunday.”

Basson is a relative newcomer to the Cape Town Cycle Tour with only three finishes but he’s had a prolific start to 2023 and will certainly be a name to watch on race day.

“My best Cycle Tour result is 10th,” he says, “but my preparations have been going well. I have done as many races as I could – a mix of mountain bike and road races – and I’ve had a few podiums this season. The sensations are good and I feel ready for this Sunday and I feel a good result is in reach for the team.”

Hoping to turn back time, or at the very least, keep the youngsters in their place, will be the likes of Hoffman, Venter and Dusty Day. Hoffman is a highly skilled sprinter who is always in contention if the race comes down to a sprint. On race day he’ll be ably supported by his five-member Aluwani team, who will help set him up if he’s in contention for the sprint. 

Day is another battle-hardened Cycle Tour campaigner, often working hard for teammates as a lead-out man. His focus these days is long-distance races and gravel racing, but every year he puts in the effort for a tilt at the Cycle Tour.

“It’s always a gamble,” Day says of the Cape Town Cycle Tour race tactics. “The bunch can be fairly nervy, just a massive horde and some riders who aren’t necessarily accustomed to the intensity of racing or riders you don’t always ride with – but that makes it exciting.” 

Marc Pritzen, The defending champion will be pulsating in pink this year, riding for the EF Education–Nippo Development Team. Following his win last year, Pritzen expressed surprise at how frequently the Cape Town Cycle Tour resulted in a bunch sprint, given the challenging climbs along the route. However, he rode a strategic race in 2022 and capitalised on the inclement weather to secure a victory. He stated that he wouldn’t place extra pressure on himself as defending champion in 2023 and would take things as they come, acknowledging that racing is unpredictable.

Outsiders for the title include mountain biker Gert Heyns, the ever-popular HB Kruger, triathlon star Richard Murray and INEOS Grenadiers rider Cameron Wurf.

Heyns has enjoyed an excellent mountain bike career but is starting to spend more time on the road, finishing third at this year’s National Road Race Championships in Oudtshoorn. 

“I’ve completed a few social Cycle Tours over the years but only really did two editions in the elite batch,” says Heyns. “The first was the year the race got called off after a few kilometres and the second one was last year.”

Heyns adds that feels as though he’s been missing out on something by not putting more effort into the Cape Town Cycle Tour. “It’s a race that really intrigues me and gets me excited as it’s a different challenge than what I am used to.”

Kruger, always a contender, and a third-place finisher by mere seconds in 2022, might be a real dark horse in 2023 due to a recent appendectomy. He’s been charting his recovery on social media over the last few weeks, but a place on the podium would be a real, though not unwelcome, surprise. 

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