What's Cool In Road Cycling

Jaco Venter Interview: I’d like a podium or a win next

Jaco Venter is currently enjoying the best season of his career so far. The 26 year old’s best results before turning professional included winning the South African National U23 ITT Championships and finishing 4th in the Tour de l’Avenir. He has enjoyed numerous top 20 results this season, the three biggest being 4th place in the ITT in Settimana Ciclistica Internazionale Coppi-Bartali, 9th on Stage 4 of 4 Jours de Dunkerque on the way to finish 12th overall. He took some time out to talk to us before starting the Tour of Norway on Wednesday.

How do you feel about your season so far?
I’ve had a few good races where I’ve been part of the racing. I have improved a lot since my previous European seasons and that’s a good sign. I’ve been getting close to good results and I hope more will come from it the rest of the season and hopefully get that podium or a win.

Is there something you could put your results down to this year?
I am happy in the team and my surroundings. I’ve had no real problems or anything to worry about this year. I’ve had a very busy program racing a lot which is good for someone like me. As the racing goes on I get better and I’ve done 93 race days I think and that counts a lot to my results.

Would you say your career has been affected by an instability when it comes to teams. Do you feel comfortable now in Team MTN-Qhubeka?
Definitely. That’s one of the major changes that’s helped with my performance. The team and my surroundings. We’ve got good guys in the team as well as South Africans who understand what it’s like to be in Europe away from home and the team has been really supportive. If you are happy you always race well and I am very happy.

Have you discovered fully what kind of rider you are?
I’m also discovering as I go on but I think I am more of a stage race rider. As the days go on I get better and better and I benefit if there is a time trial in the race too. So I think I am tour rider with not too big climbs and if I can get in a breakway and sprint from there.

What result have you been most happy with this season?
My only top five I’ve had is in Coppi e Bartali a few weeks ago. I was feeling really good that day. It was a time trial which suited me perfectly. Also in Dunkirk when I got a top ten in a .HC race and also finished 12th overall. It’s a start for me getting good GC results with UCI points so I am happy with that. I wasn’t really thinking of getting a result there so it was a nice surprise for me.

Can you talk about the day you finished 9th in Dunkirk. You nearly quit the race after not feeling so good after the start.
It was really surprising. After the Tour of Turkey I was really tired and we didn’t have a lot of days in between the Turkey and Dunkrik so I was feeling very jet-lagged and hungover almost and then the first few days I got through thinking I can maybe get better like I always do as the days go on but I didn’t really get better. On that specific day I told the guys early on I was feeling terrible and was going stop because I couldn’t help the team at all as I was feeling rubbish. Then the team got on the front and starting working for Martin [Reimer] and I thought ok I can’t stop, I have to start helping the team here. After Jay [Thomson] had been pacing I thought I can’t let them down and then Martin said he wasn’t feeling well and I started feeling better and better even though I was still cramping. But I thought let me give it a try and we decided we’d work for me and that was with one lap to go and I felt pretty good until 500m to go when I cramped again but I was pretty happy to finish 9th.

What’s your goals for the rest of 2013?
I’ve got a top five so far this season but I’d really like to get a podium or a victory now. I would be super happy. My next goal races will be Luxembourg, Austria then Portugal but we’re having some visa issues so we’ll see which of those I can do and when I can take a break but those are the three races I want to aim for.

Do you think your performance could inspire other riders in Africa.
I hope so. I have been racing in South African for a few years with the guys and if they see I can do it I hope it’s encouraging to the rest of the South Africans. I am not winning but you can see we are part of the racing and getting closer and closer all the time. Apart from Daryl [Impey] and Rob [Hunter] we weren’t really part of the racing before we were just following wheels but now we’re part of the racing and making it. I think with the results the South African’s are now getting, we have something to look forward to.

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