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“It’s incredible and to be honest with you, it’s quite an honour to race alongside these guys and to learn from them. To see the crowds they attract is really incredible.”


Photo: Mario Stiehl




05.09.2016 @ 20:00 Posted by Joseph Doherty

Johann Van Zyl is one of the new breed of African riders currently coming through at Dimension Data. The former South African champ, 25, is comofrtable on the front of bunches as a domestique, but he has also proven his class in Europe, taking a big solo win in Austria last season.


CyclingQuotes spoke exclusively with Johann just before the teams rolled out of Glasgow to begin stage one of the Tour of Britain. We got his thoughts on his return from injury and what it is like riding for names like Cavendish and Cummings on thoser rider's home Tour.


Van Zyl injured his collarbone on the Giro's final stage, but he managed to make it to three laps to go and was given a finishing time in his first Giro. He returned in Arctic Race of Norway before doing Plouay and now Britain.


“Obviously it’s really nice to be racing again, it’s taken me some time to get back into the rhythm and get the feeling of being in the bunch back. I was a little nervous, breaking too early, doing things more carefully, but I’m hoping that soon I can forget about all of that.”


With Mark Cavendish and Steve Cummings being established stars of the peloton, they are immensely popular when they race on home soil. Van Zyl has only now gotten to experience this in Britain, his first race with Cavendish as a teammate.


“It’s incredible and to be honest with you, it’s quite an honour to race alongside these guys and to learn from them. To see the crowds they attract is really incredible. I’m looking forward to a nice and hard week,” Van Zyl says, laughing at the prospect of the hours he will spend on the front.


He also gave CyclingQuotes some exclusive insite into his future racing calendar and where we can see him once his hard week in Britain is complete.


“At the moment, I’m heading to Italy to do some of the one-day races over there. I love racing there. Every day is like a one-day Classic, super hilly, super hard with nice local circuits at the end. After that, we need to wait and see where I’m being shipped to next.”


Finally, as an African rider, Van Zyl knows better than most how hard it is to make it as a pro coming from the Continent. The creation of the Dimension Data U23 feeder team is key in the development in ways only a man like Johann would understand.


“It’s really important to make sure that the pro team has some type of feeder team. It’s key to ensure that riders are being nurtured and taken care of and when they are ready, they can come to the pro team so I think its important. The team is also key to ensuring the team can go out into Africa and get the best talents before other teams find them.”




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