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Interview with Till Drobisch


Till Drobisch from Namibia has the potential to become a future Tour de France champion. He is the current Namibian National U23 Road and Time Trial Champion. At the age of 20, he is very ambitious and has a bright future ahead of him. Yolande caught up with the MTN Qhubeka feeder team rider and put a few quick questions to him…

Tell us about the setup of World Cycling Centre – MTN Qhubeka and where you are based?

Our team is based in Potchefstroom. We are based here because most of the good races take place in Johannesburg, but the roads in Potch are more quiet and you have more options when it comes to picking a training route.

We are the feeder team to the MTN Qhubeka pro team, which gives us as riders a great deal of motivation since we know we’re being monitored by the big team and could move up into the pro ranks if we prove to be talented. However our team is also linked to the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, which gives a few riders (like me) the possibility to take part in the best amateur races in Europe and learn everything about bike racing from 2 to 6 months a year.

What the World Cycling Centre Africa – MTN Qhubeka team basically wants to achieve is to develop Africa’s talent in cycling. Many riders in countries like Tanzania, Rwanda, Eritrea, Namibia etc don’t have the possibilities of attending good races and sometimes don’t even have proper bikes so here at the team they get all of that and can prove themselves against the best. That means we have a lot of different nationalities in our team which sometimes leads to communication problems, but so far we’ve managed that well.

In your blog you have mentioned your goals for 2014 and one of them is to try and defend your two national titles, any other goals you would like to achieve this year?

Actually defending my national titles will be quite difficult as all my opponents will most probably be in really good shape whereas I myself will only compete in my first race this year 2 weeks prior to the Namibian National Champs (due to my accident last year). But I’ll definitely give it my all.

Other than that I have one major goal which is to get a top 20 in the General Classification of the Tour de l’Avenir, which is also known as the u23 Tour de France. It will be my 3rd time that I will start it, and I’ve improved from not making the time cut on stage 4 in 2012 to 35th overall last year, so I am very positive that I can actually achieve this goal.


You’ve crashed very badly during the Engen Series which ended your season earlier, take us through it?

It happened during the last race of the Engen Series which was held in Paarl. The peleton was very big and nervous, and after 25km the inevitable; a crash. Someone touched wheels next to me and didn’t know where to go except straight into my front wheel. I went down pretty hard on my head (my helmet broke in 6 different places, which I only realized after the race) but didn’t have much pain except in my shoulders. So I got back up and got paced back to the bunch. I made it over the climb in the front group, punctured, had to stop again after a while because my brakes were rubbing, helped my teammates to stay out of the wind and narrowly missed out on another crash 1 km before the finish.

That afternoon I went to a doctor (along with 2 teammates who had to get stitches), but got told it’s only my muscles that are tense due to the impact of the fall. However my coach suspected a concussion and we went to another doctor in Stellenbosch the next day. Not soon after I was sitting in the x-Ray room, being told I fractured my C6 vertebra and I would spend the next 6 weeks with a neck brace, not being able to ride at all.

Of course it was a big shock at first. I was supposed to take part in the African Champs held in Egypt, and for the first time ever, Namibia had a really big team (12 riders in total), of course I wanted to be part of that! But after the first disappointment passed, it was actually not a bad thing at all. My season had been long and exhausting, so the forced break gave me time to recover fully and get motivated again.

You are a full time professional bike rider, what interest do you have besides cycling?

Cycling takes up most of my time, and someone once told me that I basically eat, sleep and breathe cycling. However when it’s time to hang the bike up and recover I like reading and writing. I mostly read fantasy novels, which takes my mind off the stressful things in life. My writing includes blogs, just random thoughts, French vocabularies (I’m currently trying to learn French and can already speak a little bit). I also like post ride coffees with teammates which always ends up in talking a lot of nonsense.

I’d also like to play an instrument again sometime (being the odd one out doing sports in a very musical family), but haven’t taken that up yet because it’s difficult when you travel a lot.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

If everything goes well I see myself riding in a pro tour, hopefully having finished a grand tour already by then. If things don’t go according to plan I’ll probably still be involved in cycling somehow. How exactly I don’t know yet, I don’t like planning too far ahead as it’s anyways unpredictable what’s going to happen, so I just take it as it comes and make the best of it.

What message do you have for your fans out there?

Be grateful for every little opportunity you get and always stay humble.

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