South African cyclist Chris Jooste believes he made a strong enough impression during three months racing with a Portuguese team in Gondomar to ensure he can return on a permanent basis.
The 23-year-old arrived in the middle of March to link up with the JV Perfis-Gondomar Cultural team for his first stint in the European country.
“The plan was for me to prove myself during the time I was there so I can go back permanently,” said the Mpumalanga Tour stage winner.
“I feel I achieved that and made my mark enough to have people speaking about me.”
Jooste competed in important national races such as Clásica de Pascua-Padron, Jogo Classic, Classica Xista, Memorial Brunel Neves, GP Anicolor and GP JN for his outfit, a feeder team to one of the professional squads.
“I didn’t expect to get any major results as it was my first time there. My goals were met by me proving myself.”
Jooste, who collected the biggest win of his career when he won the inaugural Tshwane Classic in 2017, felt the races taught him a lot about himself and how his body was able to adapt to the challenge.
“Every time you do new races you grasp new tricks. I learnt a lot about each area and aspect of racing.
“I was also fortunate enough to have amazing teammates who taught me a lot.”
Jooste landed back in SA yesterday evening and said he would now work on being able to go back to Portugal permanently next year.
“The visa application is a bit tricky but I’m trying to figure out something. Everything is hanging in the balance at the moment.
“I’m not sure if I will compete in SA for the rest of the year, but if my plans don’t work out then I’ll restart my training for a good local spring season.”
The 2018 Race for Victory champion, whose opportunity came about thanks to the help of ex-professional European road cyclist Shaun-Nick Bester, felt it was crucial for local riders to gain international experience.
“No racer should stay in the country if they’re serious about their career. The biggest and fastest races with the strongest riders are all in Europe.
“This was a major successful stint for me and I need to thank my team for this and for making my intro into Portuguese racing a bit easier.
“It was awesome racing with them and I hope to be back soon.”