Cycling has taken Nicholas Dlamini from the townships in Cape Town to the world stage.
The Dimension Data Continental rider made headlines when he won the King of the Mountains title at the week-long Baby Giro last week.
“It’s the best out of all my achievement because it’s on the highest level of racing in the world, so it’s very special,” he told In the Bunch.
He admitted the green jersey reserved for the race’s best climber was not his initial focus when he started the event.
“After getting the jersey I had to change my objectives to work with the situation,” said Dlamini, who was originally targeting a position in the top 10.
“Overall, I had a good experience at the Giro,” he said.
“I got to make new friends and sign bottles for people. It all made me feel like I was famous. The atmosphere was amazing.”
“I’d come back from a long break so second at SA champs was okay, but it would have been nice if I’d won,” he said.
“It was different now for the Baby Giro. I was confident about myself because I was feeling good and had nothing to lose.”
Since he turned professional two years ago, Dlamini said he has learnt the importance of self-belief.
“Being confident makes a big difference in whether you get a good result or not. You have to have dreams and believe in yourself because this sport is really hard.”
He started cycling at the age of 12 after he was introduced to the sport by his friend Vuyisa Mgolombane.
“I’d see him every day and I thought I’d give the sport a try. I was fascinated.”
He admitted to being enchanted by the experience and it wasn’t long before the fun rides turned into something more serious.
“What really fascinated me was seeing baboons in Tokai forest on my first ride with Vuyisa.
“I got more curious after that to see where the bicycle would take me next,” he said.
“Since I started cycling I’ve really come a long way. I’ve gone from team to team and strength to strength over the years.”
He travelled to Johannesburg to compete under the guidance of Nic White before moving to Potchefstroom to ride for MTN-Qhubeka in 2015.
As a member of the team (now Dimension Data Continental), Dlamini made a further leap when he moved to Lucca in Italy last year.
“It’s an amazing feeling to race and stay here but it also comes with the challenges of being homesick and having to adapt to the culture here.”