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Track star Brent hits the road

Walmer Cycling Club’s Brent Pheiffer is hoping for a sprint finish to dethrone reigning champion Conrad Viljoen in the Mecer-NMMU Cycle Race over 100 kilometres in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.

Having kicked off his 2010 campaign with his breakthrough victory (in the Volkswagen Cycle Tour) in early January, the 19-year-old believes he can sign off his season with a second major title if conditions favour a bunch finish.

ÔÇ£If the race stays together, I should have a better than even chance of taking out the sprint,ÔÇØ said the rising young star, who won two medals at last weekend’s South African track championships in Cape Town.

Pheiffer however believed it would take a major effort to neutralise Viljoen, who won the national student tour in Bloemfontein over the weekend, and Mecer-NMMU team-mate Reghardt Koen. ÔÇ£They had the perfect preparation and I think they will be tough to beat on Sunday.

ÔÇ£Although I’m short on miles, I’m hoping that my track speed will pull me through if everything stays together,ÔÇØ said Pheiffer, who won the bunch sprint for sixth place in the recent Defy-Makro Cycle Tour.

However, even if the race came down to a sprint, he did not write off Viljoen. ÔÇ£He won the Defy-Makro from a breakaway group that included several sprinters.ÔÇØ

Pheiffer, who placed fifth last year, said a south-easterly wind was being forecast for Sunday, which should play into his hands. ÔÇ£If anyone gets away on the Maitlands or Three Sisters climbs, they will be riding into a headwind on the way back.

ÔÇ£Under those conditions, and if the peloton works together, it will be difficult for lone riders or small groups to establish a significant gap. Then a bunch finish becomes a possibility and hopefully I will have the legs to make an impact.ÔÇØ

By the same token, Pheiffer pointed out, a south-westerly wind would assist a small group that got away on the climbs, especially if there was indecision in the peloton ÔÇô exactly what happened last year when Viljoen and team-mate Jade Muller went clear to win comfortably.

Apart from the Mecer-NMMU riders, which also include the in-form Ronnie Scheffer and Kellan Gouveris, Pheiffer did not write off Friendly City Cycles’ Welcome Stokwe, Walmer’s Andrew Young, Nick Cape and Roger Pheiffer and Mecer-Toshiba’s Gerrit Nel.

With defending champion Anriette Schoeman (Biogen Toyota) at the Commonwealth Games, the women’s race should be between Toyota-Cycle Lab’s Lindi Erasmus and Gail Willimot (third last year) and Walmer’s Allison Hertel (runner-up).

The race starts at 7am at the Xerox NMMU Stadium on the South Campus with registration between 2pm and 4pm on Saturday. Apart from the feature race, there will be 45km, 5km and 1km events.