Team MTN-Qhubeka expands as they upgrade young cyclist Nic Dougall from the Feeder Team into the Pro Continental Team.
Having been with the Feeder Team for 18 months, Nic will now become a member on the Pro team from 1 July. The 2o year old can hardly believe that the time has come;
“Obviously I’m really excited to be part of the amazing setup that MTN-Qhubeka have provided. They’ve received invites to do some of the biggest races in the world this year like the Tour of Flanders and the Vuelta a Espana, and to have the opportunity to compete at that level is a dream come true.”
“Team MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung invested in a feeder team in partnership with the World Cycling Centre Africa, Africa’s arm of the UCI, to find and support emerging talent from Africa and South Africa. A partnership with the governing body of the sport is important especially when jointly we can do so much more for cycling on the African continent. To see Nic Dougall graduate from the feeder team to the Pro Continental team is a wonderful moment for me as it was setup for this reason and we look forward to having more riders coming through in the near future. Nic is a well-liked leader both on and off the bike and he made a huge impact to the feeder team and we look forward to seeing him fit in and perform as a member of the Pro Continental team,” comments Team Principal Doug Ryder.
Director of the Feeder Team JP van Zyl explains why the feeder system works so well as well as Nic’s incorporation into the system,
“The team members live and train together with a comprehensive training schedule that incorporates stretching, training, video analysis and team tasks. Our athlete’s train on power meters with individualised training programmes that our coaching staff can monitor. When I think back to Nic, he arrived eager yet without racing opportunities and a professional structure. He adapted quickly into his new home which sometimes has up to 10 nationalities under one roof. When starting, Nic was the worker in the Feeder Team, but as time progressed he showed his keenness to take on additional responsibility within the team at races. This resulted in him leading the team at certain tours, winning the Tour de Boland and then going on to race the Tour de l’Avenir.”
Under no illusions about the tough road ahead, Nic states that he thinks the biggest challenge of being a European Professional cyclist is trying to maintain a high intensity of focus throughout the whole year;
“I think it’s really important to have a good relationship with your coach so they can tailor the program to your goals to keep you focused throughout the season. I think the biggest area for me to improve on is going to be the technical skill needed for riding in the bunch at the top level of the sport. It’s extremely competitive with a lot of pushing and shoving and you have to know how to handle your bike really well so you can stay at the front and save energy. It’s something I’m hoping to learn from the older guys on the team like Jay Thomson and Andreas Stauff who are established pro’s with a lot of experience. “
Nic joined the team bus at the Tour de Suisse and was instantly impressed with how professional the setup was;
“Everything the riders needed to perform was provided for them. The infrastructure that the team has available to them is amazing. From the huge bus that transports the riders, to the spare bikes available to each rider, to the food being prepared by Dr Rob Child, it was really impressive to see that the team operates on such a professional level.”
Dougall concludes that dreams really can come true;
“I have wanted to be part of this team for a very long time and I’ve been prepared to sacrifice in certain areas of my life so yes I think for me it certainly does show that dreams can come true and that if you are prepared to take opportunities when they come you can make anything happen. I was extremely lucky to have Jean Pierre Van Zyl and Andrew Smith at the WCCA Feeder Team to help me progress to this level. Having them to keep me on track, advise me and provide me with opportunities to show what I can do on a bike was invaluable. I am really excited to be part of Team MTN-Qhubeka and look forward to racing with a team that rides to mobilise kids through bicycles – it’s a fantastic cause. “