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Rising Durban road cycling star Josh Rheeders is targeting his hometown classic when the aQuellé Tour Durban elite race is held on Sunday 28 November, eager to put the many months of pandemic lockdown frustration to bed with a solid performance against some of the best professionals in a calendar suddenly packed with big road races.
The 21 year old Glenwood racer started out his cycling career as a mountain biker and quickly rose to prominence as a schoolboy, and then fell for the appeal and demands of road racing.
Earlier in October he turned heads by finishing twelfth overall and racing onto the podium in the Under 23 age group at the upcountry Blue Diamond Classic. It was a welcome return to elite racing for the aspiring youngster after two years of mass cancellations of elite road races under the pandemic lockdown.
“This pandemic has really messed with everyone’s training,” he said. “The worst is not knowing. Now I just want to race as much as possible.”
As a Durban-based individual rider he has the odds stacked against him having to race against the big teams and also travel to virtually every major event.
“The aQuellé Tour Durban is right on my doorstep – I literally rode to the start from my front door the last time I did it!” said Rheeders.
He senses that many of the country’s big names will be on the start line, despite the temptation of the Double Century in the Cape the day before the aQuellé Tour Durban.
“All of the clubs have the Tour Durban on their calendar, and it is a title that the big teams want to win,” he said.
“With the 947 the weekend before and the Tour de Cap soon afterwards, it will be easy for the top riders to carry their form over that period,” the Dino van Heerden Cyles/Rhedoliv athlete pointed out.
He says the 101km race format for the elites will be tough because the distance and fast, flat layout on the M4 will make staying with the breakaway of paramount importance.
“Those drags get really hard when you are going at 50 kilometres per hour so you have to stay in the bunch. I was at the back of the last race when it came into the finish at Moses Mabhida and it was amazing to watch the big teams taking their sprinters to the line,” he said.
Making his mark at his local major classic would be the perfect boost for the aspiring Glenwood road racer.