This week will see the South African National Road Championships being held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. The Championships kick off with the 40km time trial on Thursday, with the road race being held over 180km on Sunday.
Team MTN Qhubeka p/b Samsung will once again see Jay Thomson and Jaco Venter lead the team over the coming week with both riders doing the time trial and road race. They will be backed up by Louis Meintjes, who will also be defending both his u23 ITT and road race titles from 2013. Dennis van Niekerk, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, John-Lee Augustyn and Songezo Jim make up the rest of the team for the road race.
Thomson heads into the Championships as the defending road race champion and time trial silver medallist from the last 3 years. “I will be doing the ITT before the road race. I’m feeling confident that I’ve done the training again and on Thursday I will leave everything on the road,” Thomson said. “Hopefully it’s enough to get the result I want but if I continue to be consistent I’ll be very happy. I would like to stop being the bridesmaid though,” Thomson continued.
While Venter hasn’t had the best of fortunes at the National Championships in recent years, he is confident leading into this year’s championships. “I’ve had a good two and a half months of training and no sickness or injuries so I should be in good condition. Over the last few years I’ve been struggling to be race ready so early in the season, but I’m positive I’ll be ready. I have done a few structured rides on the TT bike and feel good so hopefully I can change the bad run I’ve had the last few years around,” Venter explained.
With the road race being set over 10 laps of an 18km circuit and a larger peloton expected on the start line than in previous years, an exciting race is definitely on the cards. Defending champion, Thomson, believes so too, “I haven’t had a chance to check out the course as of yet but Google maps is great and I’ve had a look at it there. SA’s is always a gamble but with Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) coming back it’s going to be a great race.”
When questioned on the team’s chances of defending their title from last year, both Venter and Thomson were confident in the team’s abilities. “For the road race we have a strong team and I’m confident we can take the jersey for another year” said Venter. “From what I’ve seen in the training is that we have a very motivated group of guys and I think we definitely going to have a great chance. We will do everything that we can to bring the jersey back to the team,” Thomson added.
South African National Championships (KwaZulu-Natal) – (6th and 9th Feb)
Jay Thomson (ITT and RR)
Jaco Venter (ITT and RR)
Louis Meintjes (ITT and RR)
John-Lee Augustyn (RR)
Dennis van Niekerk (RR)
Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RR)
Songezo Jim (RR)