The 2016 Coronation Double Century is going to be wide open. The absence of 2015 champions Dimension Data (then MTN Qhubeka) sees Giant –who held the title for four years before they were unseated last year – and Team Road Cover as the main favourites.
Giant has a good mix of big hitters such as James Tennent, Raymond Cox and Theuns van der Bank as well as experienced campaigners like David Garrett and will be a threat on the day for sure. The team seeded first – who will go off last in this 202 kilometre team time trial - is Active Bodies Race. This composite outfit includes the likes of Pieter Seyffert, Andrew Hill and young mountain biker Travis Walker
Perhaps the biggest favourites on the day are RoadCover. The outfit - under the guidance of prolific ex-pro Nic White – will field a strong team including Cape Town Cycle Tour winner Clint Hendricks and Willie Smit, as well as White himself.
“For me to ride with the guys – I might be a bit out of my depth – is not something I get to do much so I’m looking forward to that,” White commented, adding that they want to cap off a good year “on a great note.”
“We want to go quickly, and not spend too much time in the sun. We feel we have a group of guys that are capable of that,” he said.
According to White, part of the reason why the team decided to race together – rather than spilt up and race in various composite invitational teams, as is usual at the Coronation Double Century – is to show how there has been progression through the various incarnations of the team. “We have a few guys who are going to join us who might potentially join us full-time next year,” he said. “As well as guys who have been in our team from the days of Europcar and, potentially, we have some guest riders who have been a part of the outfit before that, so really what we want to showcase is that there has been some progression and there is movement.”
Also once again in the hunt for a podium will be KZN team Bluff Meat Supply, as well ASG Racing, featuring the Day brothers Dusty and Tyler and HotChillee ProAm with the likes of Nicholas Dlamini and Shameeg Salie riding under the guidance of former Paris–Roubaix winner Magnus Bäckstedt. All three teams are sure to go all out over the 202km course, which starts and finishes in Swellendam, but the final result is far from a foregone conclusion with any of the top nine teams capable of the win.
In the women’s category, Team Enza Cycle Nation, featuring Rio Olympian An-Li Kachelhoffer, National Time Trial Champion Juanita Venter, former African Continental Time Trial Champion Cashandra Slingerland, age group National Time Trial Champion Jodi Zulbergh and Botswanian sensation Anouk Van Der Geest will be out to unseat Velocity Sports Lab 1, who claimed their hat trick when they won in a time of 06:25:51 in 2015. Also in the hunt will be Velocity Sports Lab 2 who finished third in 2015. The outside favourites though are Tiletoria Train under the leadership of Susan Melmed.
Also shaping up to be a close-fought affair this year, is the mixed category, Team My Training Day – which finished second in 2015 – will be looking to take the top step of the podium again, a place they were last in 2012, however look for a challenge to come from Hot Chillee Mixed who finished third last year. Also keep an eye on Storck and Clover Prestigio
While the first team to get six riders across the line in each category will be crowned champions, the Charles Milner Award goes to each full team of 12 riders which finish inside the allocated 10 hours. It’s a tough one to call this year as most teams make the decision on the day, as the race plays out, whether to shed riders or push for the 12-rider finish.