Reigning champion Chris Opie has underlined the importance of the Perfs Pedal to UCI Continental outfit Canyon Eisberg.
The Hampshire-based team will once again be the headline act in Sunday’s 46-mile race, which climbs Portsdown Hill five times and finishes on Hundred Acres Road, outside Wickham.
A short break will follow the tear-up – which rolls out of Southwick at 11am – before the squad embark on a series of major European races at the beginning of March.
The presence of professional teams in National B races always attracts critics, with Tim Elverson’s troops facing flak on social media last term as the cycling press zoomed in on their competitive debut.
But Opie, who also won the race for Team UK Youth in 2012, insists the motivation is genuine for Canyon Eisberg in the traditional curtain-raiser to the road season.
Not least because the team does not possess the budget for training camps or trips to warmer climes.
Opie, 30, said: ‘You get to this point in the year, you see the big races in the desert and you have watched the Tour Down Under and think you’d quite like to race yourself now.
‘It doesn’t matter how big or small the race is. It is all about seeing your team-mates, catching up with the staff and seeing everyone that surrounds the team.
‘It makes you realise why you do the job. There is a great buzz around it. You don’t need to go to the world’s biggest race to get that buzz.
‘You just need to be together as a team and that is what is important right now.
We have some of the biggest targets of our year quite soon after Perfs, so this is a very important timeChris Opie
‘We have some of the biggest targets of our year quite soon after Perfs, so this is a very important time.
‘Perfs is a short race. But it is a great chance to push yourself with a number on your back, which is different to training.
‘In training, it is always you pressing the button and you saying go. In a race, someone else is defining when you have to respond or try harder.
‘That is really great preparation for us. It is crucial as we build into another exciting season.
‘And the fact you have a couple of weeks after Perfs to make any adjustments that are necessary is a bonus.’
Canyon Eisberg will race the Grand Prix de la Ville de Lillers in France on March 4. The prestigious 1.HC Ronde van Drenthe – in which Opie finished seventh last season – and Dorpenomloop Rucphen follow on March 11.
Opie clinched Perfs glory last year from junior star Jacob Vaughan, who has since joined the under-23 development squad of the Belgian World Tour outfit Lotto-Soudal.
The Cornishman will be joined in the Canyon Eisberg squad by Jack Pullar, Alex Paton, Max Stedman and first-year seniors Louis Rose-Davies, who won the national junior road race in 2017, and Charles Page.
A field of 85 will roll out for the 53rd annual Perfs Pedal, which is organised by the VC St Raphael club.
The race headquarters are the D-Day Memorial Hall in Southwick. Click here for more information and a full list of riders.