26.09.2017 10:30

Willie Smit, first African rider to join Team KATUSHA ALPECIN

Team KATUSHA ALPECIN is happy to announce that it has reached an agreement for the 2018 season with South African rider Willem Jakobus Smit. In last Sunday’s elite World Championships road race in Bergen, Norway, the 24-year-old rider was the last rider to be caught after a break of more than 180 kilometers. Willie Smit is the current leader in the UCI Africa Tour. Earlier this year he won the gold medal in the African Continental Championships.

- “ln my life I was focused on one dream: to become a WorldTour rider. I started the season with two medals in the South African Championships (road and time trial) and a gold medal in the African Championship Road Race, too. I was very happy and I thought that it would open up an opportunity in professional cycling. But that didn't happen. So I decided that if professional cycling doesn't ring at my doorbell, I had to ring it myself by travelling to Europe and showing my potential. It was not easy because I have a long season and I run in two continents. But finally the dream has become real. KATUSHA ALPECIN phoned me and offered an opportunity. I don't have any doubt. It is my dream. Now I cannot wait to start working for the team at the maximum level of cycling. And it is time to say thank you to KATUSHA ALPECIN because they bet on African riders too,” - said Willie Smit.

2017 was indeed a more than successful season; in fact it has been the best ever for Willie Smit. So far Smit has obtained 16 victories in the current season. While riding for RoadCover Cycling Team he took overall wins in the Mpumalanga Tour, the Clover Lowveld Tour and the Tour Meles Zenawi (UCI 2.2) or “Tour of Ethiopia”. For three months he raced in Spain and rode for Club Ciclista Rías Baixas. In that period he won 6 races, including overall wins in the Vuelta a Segovia and Vuelta Ciclista a León and earned 5 second places and 4 third places.

- “What impressed me most, even more than his results, is his desire to reach the top. He invested a lot in his sport and paid all his travel expenses himself. I like his professional attitude. WorldTour level will be a big step, but I am confident and we will look out for and care for him. Willie can handle climbs, he is fast and he has a good time trial in his legs. I look forward to working with him,” - concluded general manager José Azevedo.

 

Photo © Tim De Waele