Gouveris’s season last year did not go altogether according to plan after he left Alfa Bodyworks to pursue a career with French team Christian Magimel Sud-Ouest Cyclisme Formation for this year.
That opportunity subsequently fell through, leaving Gouveris without a team. However he managed to make it into the semifinals of the Zwift Academy competition for a spot in the Dimension Data Continental team.
The 20-year-old did not get into the DiData team but he did make a statement in his hometown of PE on the first weekend of the year, riding for the Nelson Mandela University team.
“I still have goals and ambitions to race overseas this year. I’m still young and it’s something I want to do,” Gouveris told In the Bunch today.
“Looking ahead I still want to get into a team, but it’s difficult. Trying to secure that is a task on its own.”
Despite not currently studying at the university, Gouveris said he would be racing for NMU this season while “trying my best to take on a stint in Europe”.
“I’m happy to have started the season on a good note. It gives you so much confidence for the races coming up,” he said, adding that it was special winning in his hometown of PE.
The criterium took place over a series of three races at the Aldo Scribante Race Circuit, with the riders accumulating points in each event based on their respective positions.
Gouveris said there was “no room for error” and he said good teamwork enabled him to get to the top.
“It was always neck-and-neck, but I raced really well on day one with a strong team around me.
“The guys were committed to helping me and Clinton Barrow, who has a lot of experience racing in the pro bunch, kept me relaxed throughout.
“One thing I learnt is that you should not chase the race, but rather go when you feel the time is right.”
He added that he and Max Sullivan made a move that “stuck” on the first night. He eventually beat Sullivan to the line. He then won in a sprint finish in windless conditions on the second night.
Gouveris admitted he and the team erred in the third race by misjudging the breakaway Sullivan and Marco Joubert formed, which resulted in him coming third.
“We didn’t react fast enough and gave it to them too easily.” But Gouveris still managed to pip Sullivan by two points on the overall standings.
The road race, which was separate from the criteriums and took place in the southern parts of PE, was won on a five-kilometre hill near the finish.
“It was quite a tough hilly course and I was up against guys who were good climbers. I needed to just hang on and I knew the top of the 5km hill was the most crucial part; that was my finish line.
“I managed to do that. Marco and I got away there and I managed to take him in the [final] sprint.”