Claude Eksteen is back from Switzerland to compete in Saturday’s┬á ATU Africa Triathlon Championships in Durban.
Despite the late hour and the long travel behind him, the South African was in good spirits. ÔÇ£It is only a short visit; I fly back to Davos on Monday, but it is important that I compete at the Africa Triathlon Championships.ÔÇØ
Eksteen certainly looks in good shape, but expects tough competition from South Africa champion Erhard Wolfaardt who has had a superb run of results since September last year.
ÔÇ£My biggest rival will be Claude,” said Wolfaardt. “He has had some good results in the Bundesliga in Germany and will be coming into the championships in race shape. I have not raced since the South African Championships, but the training has been going really really well, so I’m confident I will be able to handle him.ÔÇØ
Both Eksteen and Wolfaardt will be watching Jeff Norton like a hawk, and will also be keeping a wary eye on young Wikus Weber,┬á the South African Under-23 Champion. “Norton is dangerous in the water, coming from a swimming background, so we wont want him to get away too much in the 1,500m swim. And Wikus is an incredible talent who is very dangerous indeed.ÔÇØ
But Norton will need a fairly big lead coming out of the water if he is to challenge the likes of Eksteen and Wolfaardt. As this is a draft legal race, should he have a big gap, you can bet that the chasers will work together to reel him in. Also being out on the bike for 40km and a 10km run in the lead can be very lonely and hard indeed.
Eksteen is looking for ITU Ranking points and the ATU Africa Championships will be the ideal place to collect these, so he will be a very dangerous man in the race. ÔÇ£It is important for me to get these points, over and above the fact that racing here means representing my country. The higher my ranking, the higher profile races I get invited to.ÔÇØ
And for Claude who is based in Davos, Switzerland during the international triathlon season, good races will mean a bigger payday.
Weber will be the hot favourite to win the Under-23 title and is good enough to challenge for an overall top five position. He finished four minutes ahead of Theo Blignaut at the South African championships to claim his first national title this year.