Team SA’s Ryan Gibbons celebrates his 25th birthday today (13 August) and he does so as part of the cycling squad competing at the African Games. Happy birthday from all of South Africa, Ryan!
According to cyclingnews.com it was Gibbons’ parents who introduced him to cycling through mountain biking. A young Gibbons would compete in the same ‘Gran Fondo’ events as his parents, but while they rode the ‘marathon’, he would compete on a shorter distance course. Bitten by the cycling bug, it wasn’t long before he ‘travelled the whole of South Africa racing’ and realised that a career in cycling would need to revolve around the road.
Gary Lemke, Team SA’s media representative at the African Games, caught up with him to ask a few questions.
Who are your role model(s) in the sport?
Mark Cavendish was definitely an icon of the sport for many years and one of the reasons I was inspired to start road cycling. I’ve been fortunate enough to not only race professionally in the same era but alongside him as teammates on Team Dimension Data.
Explain what it means to represent your country at an international event.
It’s always a special moment racing in your national colours. As a pro you represent your trade team and it’s ultimately your job. To represent your country is a different story entirely and more about the pride of your nation and achieving success for not only yourself and employer, but your country.
How do you prepare for a race beforehand?
I’m fortunate to race on the world scene regularly (roughly 90 pro race days a year) so my routine is pretty relaxed and dialed in. Good night’s rest the two nights prior to the event, complemented by a high-quality diet and the monitoring of hydration leading up to the event.
What is your most memorable personal cycling moment?
Lining up at my first monument in my first year as a professional, the 2017 Paris Roubaix, arguably the biggest one-day race in road cycling.
What is your most memorable other sporting moment?
Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal for Bafana Bafana in the opening game of the 2010 Fifa World Cup against Mexico.
In terms of your travels, what has been your favourite city and why?
Madrid, Spain. There’s nothing spectacular about it, but it was just the finishing city for the final stage of the 2018 Vuelta Espana which happened to be one event I thoroughly enjoyed.
What is the favourite app that you have on your phone?
The Netflix App. It definitely gets used a lot with all the travel.
If you weren’t a cyclist what would you be?
An aspiring cyclist.
What are your sporting ambitions for the next two years?
To win a grand tour stage (Giro d’Italia, Tour de France or Vuelta Espana).
Which person has had the most influence on your career?
It’s hard to single out one person. Many people have played significant roles in getting me to where I am such as parents, coaches, team directors etc. I think my team principal has to be mentioned though, Doug Ryder.