Hungarian threat as Perfs gets all-clear

Defending champion Chris Opie, centre, with last year's runner-up Jacob Vaughan, left, and third-placed Rory Townsend. Picture: Hugh McManus
Defending champion Chris Opie, centre, with last year's runner-up Jacob Vaughan, left, and third-placed Rory Townsend. Picture: Hugh McManus
  • Race given green light after course inspection
  • Waite expects open battle behind Canyon Eisberg
  • Presence of Kovacs provides food for thought
  • Team KTM recruit is former Hungary under-23 champ
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Mick Waite has given the 53rd Perfs Pedal the all-clear after a final course inspection.

And the VC St Raphael race organiser is expecting an thrilling battle for glory in the 74km National B contest on Sunday (11am).

While Waite acknowledges reigning champion Chris Opie and his UCI Continental Canyon Eisberg team will be tough to beat, he reckons there may be a few surprises in store.

One could arrive in the shape of 21-year-old Hungarian David Kovacs, who will make his British debut in the traditional curtain-raiser to the domestic road racing season.

Kovacs was the 2016 under-23 road race and time trial champion in his homeland and has signed for elite outfit Team KTM UK.

‘We don’t know too much about this lad, apart from his national titles.

Perfs Pedal race organiser Mick Waite. Picture: Eamonn Deane/localriderslocalraces.co.uk

Perfs Pedal race organiser Mick Waite. Picture: Eamonn Deane/localriderslocalraces.co.uk

‘He’s clearly a good time triallist and coming from Hungary, you’d imagine he will be pretty tough as well.

‘But you just don’t know what sort of form he has and what he might be aiming for this season.

‘Behind Chris Opie and his team, I think it is very balanced. If someone has done a lot of training, it could make a difference.

‘But I really can’t see past Canyon Eisberg. I’m sure they have done their homework on this Hungarian lad and won’t just let him ride away.’

They have been giving blustery winds and sunshine for a little while now. We will have to check the signs are still up but you won’t get much better for February

Mick Waite

The Perfs Pedal, which was first run in 1964, will follow the same course as last season.

After rolling out of the headquarters at the D-Day Memorial Hall in Southwick, the 85-strong peloton will head towards Wickham before turning left at the Staple Cross junction.

They will climb up through Boarhunt and on to Portsdown Hill Road, via Swivelton Lane.

Having crested the summit at the Southwick Hill roundabout, the riders will descend back to the start.

Five of these Portsdown circuits will be followed by the final sprint to the finish on Hundred Acres Road – via Shoot Hill and Newtown.

Waite added: ‘I’ve identified a couple of potholes, which we will do on Saturday morning. But there is nothing there that will stop the race.

‘The forecast is for rain on Saturday afternoon – when we are signing the course, which will be nice! Then wind and rain all night.

‘But they have been giving blustery winds and sunshine on Sunday for a little while now. We will have to check the signs are still up but you won’t get much better for February.

‘The council have done work on the ditches, so old problem areas – such as the bridge – are no longer a concern.

‘There may be a little water on the road but it won’t stop it. No way.’

Among the entries are Portsmouth’s Andy Shackel, who rides for Vitus Pro Cycling, Fareham Wheelers youngster James Brickell and i-Team’s Harvey McNaughton. Hosts VC St Raphael are represented by James Horton.

Click here for the full entry list. And check out the thoughts of two-time winner Chris Opie here.