In only a few months since being a contender for the South Africa Olympic mountain biking team, Brendon Davids has carved a name for himself as one of the country’s top road cyclists – but even he admits he has a massive challenge ahead of him at the 2017 aQuellé Tour Durban, presented by Bridge Fund Managers, on 30 April.
After the disappointment of missing out on selection for the Rio Olympics last year, Davids fast-tracked his decision to one day become a road cyclist. He dusted off his road bike and immediately confirmed his decision with a surprise win at the 94.7 Cycle Challenge in Johannesburg late last year.
A second overall and a stage win while playing the domestique role for RoadCover teammate and race winner Willie Smit in the Mpumalanga Tour earlier this year, combined with a win in the two-day KZN Summer Series last month, means Davids has cemented his credentials as a genuine race winner on the tar.
Davids and Smit are teaming up for the Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race, which starts in Heidelberg and finishes in Scottburgh the day before the popular Durban Classic.
With nine days of tough riding in his legs, Davids must at best be considered an outsider for the win. ‘It will be tough for Willie and I as we will be coming off the joBerg2c,’ said Davids earlier this week. ‘We are mostly using the joBerg2c and Tour Durban as a big block of training for races later on in the year. We are both planning to go to Europe and have some big races in June.
‘BCX will be the team to beat at Tour Durban, I think. They are likely to have a full team taking part and so we will be outnumbered… and we don’t know how Willie and I will feel. I normally come off stage races strong, so it may be good, but we are going to have to race aggressively and see how it works out.
‘Team BCX will have strength in numbers and have a very good team for flat, fast races. We will probably have a reduced team of four riders, but we will probably see if we can put somebody in a break up the road, or see if we can set up last year’s winner, Brad Potgieter.
‘The Tour quite often ends with a break getting away in the last 20km or so on the way back from Ballito – last year about 20 guys went up the road and stayed away, so we will see what happens. I was fourth last year as an individual with Brad, who is now my RoadCover teammate, taking the win, so I think we have a good chance.
‘BCX have Nolan Hoffman and if he is closed down they have David Maree or Rynard Butler who are all quick sprinters and suited to this race.’
Although well known as a race winner on a mountain bike, Davids is also going to have to do some adapting to get himself ready for the joBerg2c.
Having not touched a mountain bike since November last year, he will be using the opening few days to get used to the fat tyres, although he is planning to defend his Compendium Hill 2 Hill title the weekend before the start in Heidelberg.
But Smit should be even more concerned. He has never raced a major mountain bike event, but according to Davids, his partner has a massively big engine and on the flat fast stages of the joBerg2c could be in the mix for some glory.
The aQuellé Tour Durban presented by Bridge Fund Managers will once again consist of a 105km classic road race, a 45km Fun Ride and the popular 55km Cyclocross that blends road racing with mountain biking.
Crucially, the 105km race will serve as an early qualifier for the 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour, offering ardent road racers a chance to secure their qualification for next year’s event in the Western Cape.
Picture of Davids courtesy of Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media