ccs-62657-0-69587900-1458222874.jpg
Lynette Burger Pieterse (centre) controlled much of the women's race at last year's aQuellé Tour Durban. Burger Pieterse is a regular contender in the aQuellé Tour Durban women's race and has vowed to challenge for a third title this year. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media

"I will be there going for the win, that's for sure!" said Burger Pieterse. "It is hard to know just what to expect from the women's race but it is always hard and always enjoyable."

The bubbly 35 year-old was narrowly pipped at the post at the recent Cape Town Cycle Tour by An-Li Kachelhoffer, but was delighted to be able to assume her spot on the podium alongside the 2016 champion.

More importantly, the Demacon rider is loving every moment of her career since she took a brief hiatus from racing during the birth of her son, Dale.

"I am thrilled with my form at the moment. I am feeling stronger, but in a different sort of way," said Burger Pieterse. "Since my little one has arrived I seem to have picked up the most wins of my career last year!"

As a senior member of the racing community she is passionate about mentoring the next generation of female riders and making sure that the environment for individuals and teams is as healthy as possible.

"That's a bit tough at the moment though!” admitted Burger Pieterse.

"It seems that a lot of the younger riders are committed to teams that ride overseas and then there are the women who stop riding, for a variety of reasons.

"Then we have also seen the rise of African women's cycling - which we have always supported - but now we are getting beaten by the African women, who are really flying, which is a fantastic problem to have!" she added.

ccs-62657-0-78362400-1458222897.jpgLynette Burger Pieterse (centre) controlled much of the women's race at last year's aQuellé Tour Durban. Burger Pieterse is a regular contender in the aQuellé Tour Durban women's race and has vowed to challenge for a third title this year. Anthony Grote/ Gameplan Media
Sizing up her aQuellé Tour Durban challenge, Burger Pieterse is quick to identify the strongest challenge coming from the Clover and Time Freight teams, aggravated by her own shrinking team and the loss of her key team mate, Heidi Dalton to racing in Europe.

"At the moment it looks like Demacon will be mainly myself and perhaps some young riders, if we can sign them, but it will be tough against the other teams for sure!

"It will be tough if there are strong teams like Clover and Time Freight there because if you just have a few riders in your team then you have to watch every move all the time and make sure you stay with them," said the three time aQuellé Tour Durban champion.

Burger Pieterse is a great admirer of Dalton, who joined her as a 14 year-old with potential and has blossomed into a serious force in South African women's road cycling.

"That is a good example of the kind of team development structures we need," said Burger Pieterse. "It takes time to learn the ropes and how to perform in a team environment. I really felt that Heidi could have won in the Tour Durban last year."

Her attachment to the Durban Autumn classic is deep and since her debut, has missed the aQuellé Tour Durban just once when she was just weeks away from giving birth to her son.

"The Tour Durban is always very well organised and what I love most about it is that it has a relaxed vibe while the racing is still always very competitive!

"Maybe it is the weather and enjoying being down at the coast that makes it feel a bit like a holiday, but it is definitely a race that I always look forward to!" she said.

Normal entries can be submitted online at www.cycleevents.co.za/road-events/aquelle-tour-durban-2016/ and until 22h00 on 11 April, after which late entries will be taken at registration at Suncoast Casino & Entertainment World from 10h00-17h00 on Friday, 22 and Saturday, 23 April.

More information can be found at http://www.tourdurban.co.za