The 22 year old team Kargo Pro MTB rider, fresh from his podium finish in the Sappi Karkloof Classic, has just come off his first Absa Cape Epic with Shan Wilson, and has his sights set on a top performance at the UCI MTB and Trials World Championships in Pietermaritzburg in August, factoring in the innovative aQuellé Tour Durban as one of his building blocks in the process.

Rourke Croeser bagged a second in tough muddy conditions at the Sappi Karkloof Classic, and wants to use this weekend's aQuellé Tour Durban cyclo-cross race to sharpen his form ahead of the upcoming Cross Country World Cup season.

Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

Croeser, who has been based in the United Kingdom for a few seasons, is quick to point out that the 55km race, which combines 40km of road racing with 15km of varied MTB track, is not strictly cyclo-cross as popularly raced in Europe and the USA. However he says it has the potential to catch on in South Africa.

"The main difference between cyclo-cross and any other type of cycling is the massive explosive nature of the sport, " said Croeser. "You’re basically needing to go flat out for an hour and with you having to get off your bike, sprint over a couple of obstacles, then get back on and try get back up to speed as quickly as possible. It really wears you out quickly so it can be a full on work out.

"Cyclo-cross is however quite close to cross country, just with a bit more running, and I do quite a bit of cross training throughout the season so hopefully I’ll be able to adapt quickly enough and I’m sure everyone else will be able to too.

Croeser said he expected the competition to be tough at the front of the cyclo-cross race.

"If there was one thing I learnt during the past couple of seasons it was that there are only a very few things that separate the guys at the very top and one of the biggest factors is definitely confidence," said Croeser. "If your confidence is right up there then generally there are few people who will be able to beat you if you’re at the top of your game in the other areas as well."

Team captain Shaun Peschl will also be on the start line, and said that tyre choice was sure to play a major role in determining the podium places. "With the mix of road and dirt, a less aggressive tyre with less tread will probably be the best decision."

"There has been a lot of talk about this race, so it's no surprise to see the big entry already," added Peschl.

The aQuellé Tour Durban road races takes place on Sunday 28 April. More information can be found at www.tourdurban.co.za