The 19-year-old was an avid cross-country and track runner at school, having taken up the discipline competitively from the age of nine.
Pritzen, who grew up in Windhoek, Namibia, was offered a bursary by Hoërskool Kempton Park for running and, after suffering various setbacks, the sport “took off” for him at the end of Grade 9.
However, he sustained a knee injury in Grade 11 and his physiotherapist told him to take up cycling to help him in his recovery process.
“Cycling then just stuck. The first Trailseeker Series event I did I came third and then the bug bit.
“I think running taught me a lot for cycling at the end of the day. It taught me how to handle pressure and what to do in race situations.”
Before even featuring in road racing, Pritzen made his presence felt in mountain-biking.
That was where BCX team director Malcolm Lange scouted Pritzen and signed him to join their road outfit ahead of the 2018 season.
The teenager made the most of his opportunities in his first year on the tarmac, enjoying his first elite win at the Kremetart Cycle Race, while also racking up victories in the Vets & Junior Tour and Namibian Cycle Classic.
Last weekend, however, he achieved a career highlight by being crowned the SA U23 road champ.
“It was always a dream of mine, especially coming from a running background where I never managed to win the nationals,” Pritzen said.
“The closest I got was fourth in club running and seventh in schools. Now to start cycling and win the SA title was unreal.”
Pritzen admitted that it was a setback when BCX folded at the end of 2018, after which he had joined OfficeGuru, which “seemed like the obvious choice” for him.
He said he was grateful for the opportunity BCX presented in his first year racing competitively on the road, having learnt a considerable amount from experienced riders David Maree, Nolan Hoffman and Steven van Heerden.
“What they taught me last year helped me a lot with what I achieved this past weekend [at the national champs].
“But I still have so much more to learn,” he said, as he looks ahead to playing something of a leadership role for OfficeGuru, one of his main reasons for joining the team.
“Having that role is quite important for me and also because it’s an under-23 team. Having younger guys around would be nice for a change. I thought that’d be fun,” he quipped.
Reflecting back to the 162km national champs road race in Pretoria on Sunday, Pritzen said their team strategy was to keep an eye on the other U23 riders, while the Dimension Data elite riders and Daryl Impey covered one another.
“Daryl played a big role in our race. We wanted to watch him because we knew he had to do something special.
“But [at the same time] we also had to be realistic that if he went, we would have had to decide whether we would’ve been able to follow. DiData were trying to overwork him so we had to look at that as well.”
In the U23 race, Pritzen said they had targeted Jason Oosthuizen and Byron Munton, who broke away earlier in the race, which “wasn’t ideal”.
“When the race split and we caught the breakaway I was quite surprised to see Byron there. I never knew he actually got away.
“From there guys just got sold with the tempo, which was crazily high. In about the third-last lap Jason had dropped off and on the last lap going up by the Union Buildings Byron also dropped off.
“Then it was about keeping the tempo high and Dylan [Girdlestone] helped a lot with the pacing in that regard, which I also think helped Daryl close in on Nicholas [Dlamini].
“But we were focusing 100 per cent on the U23s in that race.”
Pritzen finished ninth overall in the 16-and-a-half lap race to claim the U23 title. His time of 3:56:42 beat Munton into second by over four minutes.