South African track cyclist Jean Spies took part in his first World Cup in seven years and, although disappointed with his results in Manchester in Britain last weekend, he continues to chase his dream of competing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
His last World Cup event was in Beijing in 2010, but he has been racing overseas in recent times.
He took part in the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in London last year before returning home for the African Continental Track Championships in Durban in March, where he won the time-trial, scratch and sprint titles.
The 27-year-old from Randburg in Johannesburg made his way to the United States in June, where he competed in a number C1 events for three months.
“From that it became one of those things where I felt the world stage wasn’t too far off; it made it more realistic to get to the World Cup events,” he said.
This past weekend he lined up for the keirin, time-trial and scratch events, although the scratch was merely to experience more time on the track at international level.
“My two objectives were the kilo and the keirin but the downside to that was that both of those were on the same day, which was to my detriment.”
Although he achieved a personal best in the kilo, he was disappointed with his times.
“According to my calculations from my efforts at the Commonwealth Games trials last week, my first lap was two seconds slower and it should have been about half a second faster because of the track surface.
“I’m pleased about it being a PB, but I’m not happy that it’s still not under 1:05. It’s a catch-22. It’s really frustrating but it is what it is,” he said.
The Got it Global rider said his exploits overseas were to prepare him for the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.
“As a little kid, your dream is always to represent your country and to be as good as possible.
“I want to be as good as I can and I want to race the best in the world and beat them. That’s the dream and I’m chasing it.”
He admitted last year’s world champs had been far from ideal, but it convinced him the international stage was where he wanted to be.
Keeping his eye on the prize, Spies, who is living with a friend and constantly getting creative to make ends meet, was nevertheless upbeat and said the remainder of his 2017 season looked positive.
“Ultimately I have to live on hope every single day of my life, but there is hope for this year and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen.”
He outlined his plans to remain in Europe until April, funding dependent.
From England he said he hoped to take part in the World Cup in Belarus before hopefully heading to the African track champs and Commonwealth Games next year.
“I don’t think there’s much better than riding around with the rainbow stripes around your middle for a year. That’s the goal and that’s why I’m working so hard now, it’s all in preparation to try and find some stripes.”