South African Kent Main believes he is growing into a real general classification contender on the international stage following his latest achievement at the Tour of Iran where he placed sixth overall on Sunday.
The 23-year-old said he was satisfied with this result in the five-stage road tour.
“I came into the race with good form and high expectations. However, I did get sick just before, so I was unsure how it would go.
“We travelled to China before this for a couple of one-day races and then from there to Iran. Travelling is always nice and eye-opening, but also very tiring between racing.”
Main said for him personally the outcome in Iran was another goal ticked off.
“A top-10 in a UCI 2.1 event is very promising for my career.”
Iran itself was an experience as he had no idea what to expect on arrival.
“It was very eye-opening. The people are really friendly and supportive of cycling in their county. The race was well organised and we were treated like professionals.”
Main said the first two stages, comprising rides of 148.3km and 180km, were tough.
“I felt those days were the most difficult. The shorter and sharper stages, without much control in the smaller bunch, meant everyone was exposed.”
He said it was on the 163km third stage that the GC took shape – and he was happy with his ride.
“It was pretty fast and tricky approaching the final 3km climb and then full gas from bottom to top.”
The last two stages were lengthy 198.2km and 188.9km efforts.
“My team did a super job on each stage to keep me fresh and to look after me as best as they could,” said the ProTouch rider.
He enjoyed the way the team raced as a unit.
“We’ve come a long way since I first joined in April and it really makes a difference in the international races we do.”
Main said he learnt once again that he was good enough to keep chasing his dream.
“Cycling is never easy, even tours like these that may only have 90 starters and no massive mountains to climb.
“You always have to race smart and you learn how to ride better and better each time you compete.”
Doing well was a strong motivator and confidence-booster.
“But yes, I want to do better.
“I’m heading to Malaysia for my last race of the season and it’s another UCI 2.1 event, so who knows? Maybe I can better my result from Iran and go into the off-season with something to really celebrate.”