It all started in 1997 when I was asked by my father, Tony, to join him and my brother, Grant, on a mountain bike ride. I was busy playing soccer at the time but decided to try out mountain biking for the first time ever. The negotiating of tricky decents, single track riding and the sudden pain in my legs was quite appealing and decided to prove to my dad that this is what I wanted to continue doing after playing soccer. I trained hard, well what I thought was hard and raced until 1999. I have great memories and had some great results as a sub-junior.
I got asked to ride an U/16 tour for Club 100 when I was 15 years old and I believe this was the turning point in my career. I was no longer the big fish, I was in a bigger pond and I had lots to learn. I set a goal to represent SA at the junior worlds in 2002 and managed to secure my place. Going to the worlds and seeing all the Pro’s and see how big the setup was in Europe, was everything I ever wanted. I set my next goal, first turn pro in South Africa, prove yourself and then try make the jump to Europe. Easier said than done
I signed my first Pro contract in 2003 for the South African based Microsoft Cycling Team. The team had guys with loads of experience and I was listening and trying to absorb everything I could. I had a great 2 years with them and won the intermediate sprinters jersey in China and both SA U/23 TT and Road Race Titles at age 18. In 2004 I had built up on the previous year and had my first real taster against the pro’s. It was the Tour d’Langkawi and I would represent SA. I came 10th in the ITT which impressed a French amateur team by the name of Velo Club la Pomme-Marseille,
I decided to make the jump to Europe, no other team was making it possible at the time, and I took on the adventure of learning a new language and racing against all the amateurs trying to secure my spot on a Professional Team. I had difficulty adjusting and things never went the way I wanted them to but I learnt a lot about myself and where I wanted to go. I had mixed results in France, real highs and real lows. I decided to sign with Microsoft in 2006 and things started to get better.
I had a great season in 2006 and had 7 victories which gave me the confidence I needed and I started to set my mind on Europe again. I set another goal, with a new team MTN-Microsoft and 2007 would be the season that I would need to do well and no more excuses. Time was running out and I wasn’t getting any younger. I wanted to prove that I could race in Europe and I needed the results to get teams to look at me.
I had a great season and had podium finishes at Tour d’Langkawi and won the sprinters jersey in the Giro del Capo as well as 2 stages and totalled the year off with 15 victories in SA. I was on a high and just as I thought things couldn’t get better, Team Barloworld approached me and I was on my way to Italy doing what I love most, riding my bike!