The Westvaal-BMC rider will be out to level the score after losing to his former Bonitas team-mate in a photo finish at the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour in March.

“It’s certainly a good race to win because it’s one of the classics,” said Day. “There are only about five or six of them on the racing calendar.”

With defending champion Reinardt Janse van Rensburg absent due to overseas racing commitments, Day said he would definitely be going all out to win the 104km road race.

“There’s no holding back on Sunday!”

Team Westvaal-BMC’s Tyler Day (right) is looking for a rematch with Team Bonitas’s Herman Fouché (left) at the Emperors Palace Classic in Johannesburg on Sunday following the narrowest of defeats at the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour in March. Photo: Cycle Tour Trust

The Klerksdorp-based rider certainly seems to be on good form following an early season win at the Macsteel Carnival City Classic and his podium finish in the Cycle Tour.

“After the Argus I scaled down quite a bit because there was not much racing, but now I’m focused again for the Emperors Palace Classic.”

He said the autumn race, which this year moved from its traditional February slot, was ideal for his team’s Mzantsi Tour preparations.

With just one climb near the halfway mark that could split the race, the fast and flat course would favour sprinters like him and Fouché, said Day.

“The short uphill drag towards the finish is a bit more in Herman’s favour but with my current racing weight and how things are going, it won’t be too bad for me either.”

He also cited Tasol-GT’s Johann Rabie, whose team is fighting for survival, and Cycle Fit’s 2009 champion Arran Brown as possible danger men.

“Arran is getting form again and he usually rides this race. He doesn’t like the longer races but it’s in his valley, so I’m sure he’ll be there.”

Day said the presence of the large World Cycling Centre Africa team could also affect the battle for control of the race. “They’ve got the numbers, so that could make quite a difference.”

Regarding his rematch with Fouché, Day said his insider knowledge of the Bonitas outfit could work to his advantage.

“It’s more or less the same team as last year, so I know exactly what they do and when they do it.”

However, the 23-year-old acknowledged that Fouché’s squad was stronger overall compared to his relatively young and inexperienced side.

“My brother Dusty is the oldest guy in the team and he’s only 24. The rest of the riders are between 17 and 23 years old but I think we can still show them a thing or two.”

Day will be supported by his brother and team-mates Dylan Girdlestone, Donovan Lubbe, Shaun-Nick Bester, Simphiwe Mhlakaza and Nico Theart.

He said he was also aiming to make it a double in the kermesse-style Circuit Spectacular, which takes place around the resort’s central fountain after the road race.

Although Day did not ride the Emperors Palace event last year, he counts a third place in the feature race and a runner-up spot in the criterium among his previous racing credits.

“The team is really looking forward to the criterium. The road race is a bit more important but the crit is exciting for spectators as they get to see more of the racing and how the tactics work.”

With only one or two other criteriums on the national calendar, Day said it would be a rare opportunity for the public to view this kind of racing.

Some 6 000 participants are anticipated for the weekend festival of cycling, which includes the 20km and 40km mountain bike races on Saturday followed by the ever-popular kiddies’ events and 50km road race on Sunday.

For more information, contact ASG Events on 076 621 1807 or e-mail eventsupport@asgworld.co.za.

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