South African Devin Shortt is delighted to have received the opportunity to join Team Caja Rural-Seguros RGA U/23 in Pamplona, Spain.
The 20-year-old Capetonian said during his short time in Spain this year he had made enough of an impression for him to be invited to join the biggest U23 team in the country.
“I’m really over the moon to be in this team. The connection they have with their pro-continental outfit is something very rare in cycling and it sets one up for a great possible pathway to the pro-peloton.
“I’m so grateful for the opportunity and proud of myself for what has happened. I haven’t had an easy ride by any means, but it just shows what hard work can do.”
Shortt had injury problems in Italy last year, including breaking his collarbone, as well as other challenges that not only set him back physically but also psychologically.
“I went home and worked hard in the off-season and I’m glad I could overcome those challenges.”
He raced in the Tour of Castellón last week, which was his second race in Spain and also his second in over three months.
“On the queen stage I arrived in the first group of around 12 after a big day of climbing and the team was really impressed with that, as well as my general classification placing, despite a crash on stage one.
“I believe my stint as a junior also played a big part and my fourth on GC at Vuelta al Besaya came into the minds as well, so it shows that I’m capable of [competing at] this level.”
Shortt, who rode for Gragnano Sporting Club in Luca last year, said it was a major accomplishment for him.
“When you’re in Spain all the riders talk about this team and it’s a massive privilege to be a part of it now. When I was here as a junior I would watch and follow the whole team and now I’m here. It’s crazy.”
The biggest factor about the team was that there were so many riders who could win races, he said.
“Ten different riders have won in this team this year, accounting for 26 of their wins. It’s crazy to think about.
“And I’ll give it my best to be the 11th. But we have riders like Jefferson Cepeda, who’s the Ecuadorian national champ and just recently won the Vuelta al Navarra which is the toughest stage race in Spain. I’m excited to learn from him.”
His first official race, which forms part of the national series, will be held on Saturday.
“The team is leading at the moment, so we hope to do our best.”
Shortt said if he had any advice for younger riders it would be that they had to set small goals for themselves and push towards them.
“Celebrate every small step but never lose focus on your main aim of being in the world tour. Always work hard and never be afraid to ask for help.
“I’d personally like to thank everyone who supports me and continues to follow me on my journey to the world tour.”