South African Louis Visser has gained valuable international racing experience and will continue to do so as he chases his dream of becoming a professional cyclist in Europe.
The 20-year-old has raced internationally since his first year as a junior.
“I’ve done a fair amount of European racing and it never gets easier but the results definitely get better every time,” Visser said.
During his time cycling abroad he said he had learnt that it was not always about who was the strongest in a race, but who was the smartest.
“Although,” he added, “having a lot of power certainly helps.”
Visser, who rides for TEG Procycling in SA, said the racing situations he encountered were vastly different to those back home.
“In Europe you often race on narrow roads, crazy descents and really big climbs. In SA it’s totally different because we race on wide open roads with really no technical descents and mostly power climbs.
“So all you really have to worry about is the last few kilometres because you can just go to the front of the bunch whenever you need to.
“If you’re sitting at the back of a bunch in Europe and the racing gets going then you’re definitely going to get left behind.”
Visser, who placed sixth overall in the Challenge International du Sahara Marocain in June, felt it was important for young local riders to gain overseas experience.
“You’ll never really know what the whole cycling and racing thing is about until you go to Europe.
“Only then will you really realise what you have to put in to make it one day.”
Before returning to SA, Visser competed in the four-day Volta Provincia de Valencia in Spain last week alongside fellow countrymen Flavio Venceslau, Casper Kruger and Brandon Downes.
“It was a good experience for me racing in Europe again. Although we did not get the results we would’ve wanted, everyone that went to the tour came back with a lot more experience.
“For me personally it’s really not about being the best guy in your team, especially if you are racing internationally.
“The whole reason for going to Europe is to race the locals and try to get good results again them.”
All in all, he felt the Spanish tour had lived up to his expectations.
“I knew it was going to be hard racing every day, which it was, so no surprise there.
“At the same time though it’s so much harder than racing in SA and to get used to it you have to do a few events.”
With the season coming to an end in Europe, Visser said he would shift his focus to the local racing scene.
“Most likely there will be no more European racing for this year, but there’s always next year.
“For now there’s a lot of racing in SA, almost every weekend, so I’m looking forward to that.”
He hopes to do well in races up till the end of the season as he works towards his long-term goal of making it professionally in Europe.
Speaking for himself and his teammates, Visser said, “I need to thank my team for believing in us and investing in us during this time.
“It means the world and we wouldn’t be able to live our dreams if it weren’t for them.”