De Bod said earlier this season – after winning the Tour of Good Hope in March – that it was one of his major goals to join the WorldTour side ahead of next season.
After having ridden for the Continental side for the past three years, De Bod, who turns 22 in November, emphasised the importance of making the step-up this year, his last season as an under-23 rider.
“This year was a very important year for me so I started the season quite hard and I put in a lot of training beforehand,” De Bod told In the Bunch today.
“I then started on quite a successful note, winning the SA national road champs under-23 time-trial and then the Tour of Good Hope.
“That was after I had a few good training camps with my dad,” he added.
He then took part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour that same week where he finished 25th in a bunch sprint.
De Bod kept up the momentum he gained from his South African stint and won the under-23 Strade Bianche in Italy in late March, before winning a 156.6km Italian race, the G.P. Palio del Recioto, in early April.
That was when teams started to “show interest” in him, De Bod said, which seemingly alerted DiData.
“I just decided to finish this year as well as I could and take things as they came.
“Then the [DiData] WorldTour team started talking to me, telling me I must just hang on for a bit because they were really interested in me for next year.
“I’ve been part of the feeder team [Continental] for three years, so they know me well and they know what I’m capable of.
“I then recently got a call from Doug [Ryder], who offered me the contract.
“It was the goal of the year, because this season could have either been the start of my cycling career or potentially the end,” he said, adding that if he had not produced “good results” this season, there would not have been other options to stay racing in Europe.
“I’ve worked so hard to get here.”
De Bod had somewhat of a tumultuous first year racing in Europe in 2016, where he was still finding his feet. It was a season he described as a “learning curve”.
He took many lessons from it, before aiming to peak by the middle of last year when the “important races” took place.
Unfortunately, though, De Bod then suffered a setback. “Just before the important races I crashed and dislocated my shoulder, which required surgery.
“That ruined my season. I returned at the end of last season, but it takes a while to get back into the swing of things and start performing again.
“If it wasn’t for that, for the injury, I may have signed for the WorldTour last year already. I’m quite confident about that.”
Without putting too much pressure on himself, which indirectly led to his crash last year, De Bod had another shot with the Continental side this season, where he opted merely to “enjoy the racing”.
Results then followed and he felt he “did what I had to do to stay in Europe”, he said.
Looking forward to next season, De Bod said he wanted to achieve “more than what people would expect”.
“It will obviously be a big step up and it will definitely be much harder, but personally I would definitely like to achieve some results in certain races.
“I want to produce one big result at least, if that’s realistic enough, but the main thing for me will be to learn, get experience and just get used to the racing.
“It will be like starting all over again,” he added.
De Bod, from Stellenbosch and schooled at Paul Roos Gymnasium, said he would try to make the most of his opportunities on tours that suited him, while targeting possible white jerseys “where possible”.
“I would also like to get a good time-trial result in a big tour,” he said. “One of the team’s plans for me is to select me for tours that suit me.
“If the opportunity is there to take the white or polka-dot jersey, then for sure I will definitely target that.”
“There are different goals for that; they wouldn’t want to rush me into a race like that considering my age.
“There’s always an opportunity, but the team would rather wait at least another year.”
In the current WorldTour fold, De Bod said Louis Meintjes was someone he looked up to, being a South African “moving up in world cycling”.
Having raced closely against Reinardt Janse van Rensburg at the SA national road championships last year, De Bod said Van Rensburg was also someone he would “like to learn from, as he is a rider who has also been around for a long time in the pro peloton”.
“I would definitely like to learn specifically from the South Africans,” he said. “That is what this team is about, to be part of an African team.”