FORMER East London resident Conrad Viljoen will return for another crack at reclaiming his title in the Daily Dispatch Spar Cycle Tour on Sunday.
Multiple winner Viljoen, who finished second last year, will lead a six-man Bestmed-NMMU team in the 100km road race through his hometown.
The 29-year-old said he expected strong competition from the likes of former national U23 champion and 2012 winner Clinton Barrow.
Buffalo Flats-born champion Jevandre Pauls will miss the tour due to racing commitments for pro team Bonitas.
Now based in Port Elizabeth, Viljoen said his university team made it a priority to support Eastern Cape events.
“For me, the motivation levels are always higher racing in East London.”
The ex-Port Rex pupil said the race route was challenging and suited him as a climber. “The route contains two major climbs in the first half that really split the field, usually leading to a select group upfront.”
He said while the first 50km were predominantly uphill, the second half of the race was much flatter and faster.
“There’s a climb about 8km from the finish, which is really the last chance to get away for the climbers. The wind also plays a big role as the route is mostly on the N2, which exposes the riders.”
Viljoen said he did not anticipate a bunch sprint to the finish but said it could come down to a final selection of five or so riders.
“I would really like to see our team on the top step of the podium as we have a couple of riders in form that will give us some options on the road.”
Viljoen won the 30-39 age category with a solo breakaway at The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth this month.