By Mark Etheridge
Leading road cyclist Reinardt Janse van Rensburg saved his best for last when he won the recent Binche-Chimay-Binche event in Belgium at the weekend.
The good thing though is that his season has seen him getting stronger the further it progressed and the reigning All Africa Games time trial champion has every reason to be confident ahead of the 2014 season.
Road to Rio 2016 put six quick questions to Janse van Rensburg has he prepared to swop saddle for seashore shortly.
Road to Rio 2016: 1. Give us a quick breakdown of your first year as a pro. Has it been harder than expected or did you know it would be this tough?
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg: No, I knew it would be tough. But I didn’t exactly had the start to the season I was hoping for. I was injured and ill a lot and couldn’t build my form to the level I would have liked.
RTR: You had 14 wins last year, has your role in the team been slightly different this year, or is the competition just that much tougher?
RJvR: The competition is tougher, but also my role in the team is different. It’s natural that I have to sacrifice a lot of my own chances for the team. So I was never hoping to win 14 races again in my first year as pro. I am quite satisfied to get one victory.
RTR: Was this win at Binche-Chimay the highlight of your year so far, describe the emotion once you finally nailed it?
RJvR: Yes it was definitely a highlight. I was really happy and proud, but also more relieved to get my first win, since I turned pro. I see it as a bit of a breakthrough. I think I needed the win, and it will motivate me even more for next year.
RTR: Apart from the win which was your most favourite race of this season (and why! and your least favourite?
RJvR: Favourite ÔÇô the whole Vuelta a Espana, it was my first Grand Tour, and it was a special feeling to do 21 consecutive days of racing and finish. Some say once you complete a GT then only are you a real professional. Least favourite ÔÇô Ronde van Drenthe. It was really bad weather at the beginning of the season in Europe. It was supposed to be a two-day event, the first day was freezing cold and rained pretty much all day. The next day was cancelled due to overnight snowstorm. I have never been so cold and also I got pretty sick afterwards.
RTR: Going forward to next year, are you happy with your general fitness and form. What for you was the most encouraging part of your year and the area that you need to work on most, if any?
RJvR: I was happy with my form in the second half, but I know I still can built higher. I was pretty close to the form I had in 2012 at the end, but I think I was still a step behind in the end. There is a lot that can improve, from endurance to working better together in the team. I would like to have a focus on the classics in the early part of the season, and that also requires some specialising.
RTR: What’s next up for you this year.. any more racing or are you going to have a well-deserved rest back home in Pretoria? And will we see you racing in races in SA in the next while?
RJvR: No I think that’s it for the racing. I will take a nice holiday back home and maybe go down to the coast for a few weeks.