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by Shane Stokes
September 27, 2017
Cummings wins stage 1 of the Giro della Toscana; Contador describes Grand Tour disqualifications as ‘huge injustice’; Smit becomes first African rider to join Team Katusha-Alpecin; Elvin continues with Orica-Scott while Tenniglo Joins FDJ; Winder and Mathiesen move to Team Sunweb; Novo Nordisk commits to two-year extension as team sponsor; Sport Vlaanderen team bans beards; Video: Phil Gaimon’s “Worst Retirement Ever,” Episode 8: Boulder, Colorado; Video: Haller hollers at Bergen fans; Video: Cyclocross Training – Belgian Edition 1.0; Video: remembering Michele Scarponi; Video: Finishing a triathlon on a hire bike
Having displayed his aggression by being the longest-surviving member of the early break in Sunday’s elite road race world championships, South African Willem Jakobus Smit has been confirmed as joining Katusha-Alpecin for 2018.
The 24-year-old is the current African road race champion, the leader of the UCI Africa Tour, and clocked up 16 wins this season. He raced mainly with the RoadCover Cycling Team and won the Mpumalanga Tour, the Clover Lowveld Tour and the Tour Meles Zenawi, or “Tour of Ethiopia”.
In addition to that he raced with Club Ciclista Rías Baixas in Spain for three month, winning six races. These included overall wins in the Vuelta a Segovia and Vuelta Ciclista a León. More recently he took the Tour Meles Zenawi for Green Development.
“ln my life I was focused on one dream: to become a WorldTour rider,” he said. “I started the season with two medals in the South African Championships – road and time trial – and a gold medal in the African Championship Road Race, too. I was very happy and I thought that it would open up an opportunity in professional cycling. But that didn’t happen.
“So I decided that if professional cycling doesn’t ring at my doorbell, I had to ring it myself by travelling to Europe and showing my potential. It was not easy because I have a long season and I race in two continents. But finally the dream has become real. Katusha-Alpecin phoned me and offered an opportunity. I don’t have any doubt. It is my dream. Now I cannot wait to start working for the team at the maximum level of cycling. And it is time to say thank you to Katusha-Alpecin because they bet on African riders too.”