As a sport, cycling is often seen as a contradiction. On the one hand, it involves a solitary rider competing against the elements and other competitors. On the other, it requires working with teammates for greater, overall glory.
Cape Town-born, 22-year-old Jaydé Julius knows this juxtaposition all too well. Cutting his teeth in professional cycling as part of the MTN-Qhubeka Feeder Team (Now Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka) based out of the World Cycling Centre Africa in Potchefstroom, Julius was drafted into the main team as a stagiaire (the cycling term for an amateur rider who joins a professional team) a year ago.
“I am really excited and overwhelmed by the opportunity to race with the team. The team has always been a real motivating factor for me, knowing that the chances of reaching the highest levels of world cycling as a South African are real,” he says.
However, Julius is not unfamiliar to racing in Europe, where the majority of UCI racing takes place. He joined the Rondse Cycling School in Belgium when he was 15 and spent time training at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Switzerland. But it was in 2015 that he really started coming into his own and showing the cycling world just some of the talent he possesses. In the space of a few weeks, he became under-23 South African Road Race Champion as well as the under-23 African Road Race Champion.
It was at the South African Road Race Championships that he impressed by finishing third in the elite race behind teammate Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Darryl Impey, another world-class cyclist.
Given his commitment and determination to compete at the highest level of cycling, even as an amateur, many suspect it will only be a matter of time before he becomes a full-time professional cyclist. — Iwan Pienaar
Photo: Stiehl Photography