Damon Fouchee, 18, will come closer to realising his dream of racing professionally in Europe when he rides on the continent later this year.
“I will be in Europe for five weeks competing against the top junior riders in the world,” said Fouchee, who will be part of a South African federation team under a development programme organised by GAEA Sports.
“I’m very excited to have this opportunity. I dream of racing professionally in Europe in the not too distant future and I strongly feel this trip will be the start of making that dream a reality,” Fouchee said.
The Officeguru Racing Juniors cyclist will compete in the Vuelta Ciclista al Besaya and Vuelta a Valladolid in Spain, Ain Bugey Valmorey Tour in France, as well as Criterium races in Belgium.
“If you want to make a future out of cycling then Europe is the place to be,” said Fouchee, who received the opportunity after fellow countryman and pro rider in France Morné van Niekerk put team director Barry Austin in touch with him.
The Pretoria local, who attends Hoërskool Garsfontein, showcased his talents at the recent 100 Cycle Challenge. He launched a daring long-range 28km attack to take a solo win of over a minute in the junior race.
“It was our team’s strategy to launch an early attack and utilise our numbers to cover all aspects of the race.
“We established the early break and had three riders in there – Aidan Geary, Kyle Swanepoel and myself. We then had Keagan van Wyk neutralising the chasing group, which contained two race favourites, and Jarod Havenga watching the rear end of the race.
“The break increased on the chasing group and I knew it would be safe for me to launch a long-range attack, having Aidan still in the break, so I went. It took more than one attack to get away, but with 28km to go I put my head down and time-trialled to victory.”
Fouchee said after his disappointment at the Gauteng provincial road race and after missing this year’s SA road champs because of his trip to Europe it was important for him to make a statement against the strongest juniors in the country.
“The 100 Cycle Challenge offered that opportunity. Every rider in my team played their part in the win and they executed our strategy to perfection.”
He added that the biggest challenge was the competition.
“All the junior national title contenders were there and they were on form.
“Coming out at the top was the only way to conquer this challenge.”