Gawie Combrinck, who has announced his retirement from professional cycling for medical reasons, said he kept fighting throughout his career and learnt as much as he could from others.
A few days ago Combrinck said he was retiring after being diagnosed with a condition that restricts the blood flow to his right leg. For the past nine months he has experienced a numbness in his leg while racing.
Reflecting on his career, he said, “Starting out was really hard – getting the support and experience to prepare for races and getting results.
“[But] if you really want to you will find a way to make it happen.”
The 33-year-old, who rode for the South African team at the Tour of Rwanda in 2010, said he regretted having to stop now as he would also have loved to race in Europe.
“I spent most of my time racing in SA, while on the road I raced in Korea and India.
“I would have loved to go race in Europe more. With all the local races it never made sense for us to spend a lot of the budget to go overseas as we got maximum exposure for our sponsors locally.”
For riders wanting to head overseas, he advised that they have a plan and be fully aware of the fact that it was not going to be easy.
“It will take some time to succeed,” said Combrinck, who rode for NAD MTB.
Regarding the current mountain-biking and road-racing scene in the country, he admitted it was “tough out there” given the state of the economy.
“There are many people doing a lot to try and grow the sport with very little support.
“There are also numerous talented riders coming through and I think the future is bright.”
“I’m not saying this just because they were my teammates.
“Matt is just a machine and has been flying on the MTB and road. Wessel is still very young but is really focused, humble and has what it takes to make it.”
Combrinck said a career highlight for him was winning the SA XCM Championships in 2015, as well as travelling and meeting “awesome people”.
“There are also so many little stories as well as moments in races and training that I’ll always cherish,” said Combrinck, who added that his favourite race was joBerg2c as he loved the journey across the country, the vibe and the people.
Asked what advice he had for riders he said if they wanted to take racing seriously they needed to work with a plan and have goals.
“Give it everything and always learn from people with more experience – and pay attention to the small details.
“Personally, I want to thank everyone who has helped and contributed in any way to help me live my dream over the past decade.”