Satellite Classic, presented by Everything.Insure, defending champions David Maree and Joanna van de Winkel will have their eyes on another win when the road race takes place at Hoërskool Bekker, Magaliesburg, on October 1.
This year marks the 18th edition of the event, which was first hosted in 2003. Due to Covid-19 regulations, the race last took place in 2020.
The event also consists of an MTB Relay (October 2). Now in its third year, it provides four hours of cross-country off-road fun and takes place on the former SA Schools Final trail.
Maree’s track background came to good use when he sprinted to victory in the 2020 race, to get the better of Flavio Venceslau and Jaco van Dyk.
The Team DMS rider said it was a great feeling to be back at one of the country’s iconic races.
“Having my big disappointment in 2018 and winning in 2019 makes it special. Winning the last event, I’d like to successfully defend the title.”
He added that having won a few races and getting to the end of his career soon, he would use another win as an opportunity to teach the younger riders.
The 33-year-old felt that it was “quite a hard race” with a few climbs, but it always turned out to be one for the riders who put in the work.
“Hekpoort will always be tough – it’s the big one.
“Once I make it over there in the front group, I know I have a chance with the tricky sprint finish.”
Maree, who lives in Fourways, felt that this event was great preparation for the end of the year.
“It also has some great scenery, and the weather is always great.”
Van de Winkel captured her third straight Satellite Classic title at the last edition. The Sandton City Cycle Nation rider crossed the line half a minute ahead of Parys Edwards. Azulde Britz finished third.
“I’m excited to be back on the start line of this Classic. The last time I raced it, I had just come back from a stint of racing in Europe and the UK, so I was in good form.
“They say ‘pain is temporary and memories are forever’ and it’s true for this race, which I’ve won a couple of times.”
She added that this year there would be other riders returning from overseas racing, which would make it more of a challenge for those who have remained local during the winter.
“It’s exciting that a few of the young women have been racing internationally and will come back strong for the end of the SA season.
“It will be challenging competing against a strong field of women. Cherise [Williet] and I will have to work together and communicate well during the race to maximise our strength as a team.”
She added that they always went out with the goal of winning.
“Cherise and I work well together. The hill comes quite early in this race so I’ll be maximising on that, but I know she always has my back if it doesn’t work out – as a natural sprinter who has won almost every Classic in SA before.”
The 40-year-old said that she would be very happy if they could win this race again.
“I’m at the point in my career that a personal win doesn’t mean the world to me anymore, but if I can help our team win, help others achieve, or inspire others, then I’m just as happy.”
Due to Van de Winkel being an endurance climber, she feels that a long and gradual hill such as Hekpoort suits her.
“The race is not only suited to a climber though. The hill comes early while everyone is still fresh and there’s a long stretch afterwards to catch back.
“A few groups re-joined after the climb in the last race, and we’ll be looking to work as a team to manage the breaks and maximise on the technical finish, if this happens.”
The Hillcrest local said she loved riding out in Magaliesburg and up Hekpoort.
“It’s a fun day out with a real challenge, beautiful scenery and comradeship!”
This year’s Satellite Classic is a seeding event for the Virgin Active Ride Joburg cycle race.
Entries close September 18. Visit www.facebook.com/satelliteclassic to win a road or MTB entry.
Enter at satelliteclassic.bike.