Interview: Devin Shortt (Cero/Cycle Division)

A long way from his native South Africa where he has been national champion four times and represented his country at two World Road Championships, Devin Shortt in 2020 is being looked after by the Cero Wheels/Cycle Division racing Team in the UK …

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Interview: Devin Shortt (Cero/Cycle Division)

Brought to you by Cero Wheels / Cycle Division

A long way from his native South Africa where he has been national champion four times and represented his country at two World Road Championships, Devin Shortt in 2020 is being looked after by the Cero Wheels/Cycle Division racing Team in the UK as he waits for racing to return to the international calendar for ‘team Telecom on Clima Oses’

The coronavirus, is, as we all know, having a massive effect on the lives of people right round the world. For athletes in all sports, events have been cancelled en-mass and in many countries, even riding a bike is banned. Thankfully for South African born rider, Devin Shortt, you can still ride a bike in the UK even though there is no racing.

Devin is in the UK riding for Cero/Cycle Division, a team that has helped out many a champion over the years. Gabz Cullaigh, Joey and Jessie Walker, Tom Stewart, Nathan Draper, Jess Roberts, Ellie May Dickinson, Abby-Mae Parkinson and of late, Emily and Josie Nelson and Toby Barnes.

They are just some of the riders who Cero Wheels/Cycle Division have helped out over the years and proof of a brand that puts back more into the sport than it takes out. Devin Shortts’s link to the team is through the boss Jonny Towers, a former Elite cyclist and one of the World’s top racing motorcyclists.

“Jonny has a place in Cape Town just down the road from where I live and about four years ago, we met out riding and since then, every time he comes to Capetown, we’ve been out riding along with Lucas and Alice (Towers)” Devin explained when we spoke this week.

Devin and motorcycle ace Jonny Towers, boss at Cycle Division/Cero Wheels

Now that Devin is the UK, Lucas and Alice have had the chance to show Devin the lanes around where they live. The British lanes remind Devin of the roads he’d ridden in Belgium and the Netherlands when he was a youngster too when he would travel there from South Africa and race in those countries as a Youth rider.

Asked if it’s hard not having any racing right now, Devin put it into perspective saying “at the moment I am relishing being here and not in Spain, Italy or France. Being able to ride the bike here helps a lot and that is enough to help keep me going knowing there are guys in Spain and so on sitting on a trainer and stuck inside all day”.

Devin was born in South Africa and over the years has worked hard on his cycling, travelling from there to mainland Europe to race. He is now racing with an Irish licence thanks to his Irish Grandad who was stationed in South Africa in World War II and stayed there.

Asked why he has taken out an Irish licence, Devin says, “just to have more opportunities racing wise. I have done two World Championships (Norway and Doha) for South Africa as a Junior and a few Nations cups, but South Africa doesn’t have any budget at all for riders travelling to races abroad. The last nations cup I did was a stage race in the Czech Republic and that was fully self-funded.”

“We had to pay for our own kit, to pay for the manager to fly there and the mechanic too. So having an Irish licence is about getting as many opportunities as possible with the Irish national team and get to race more events than I would in the South African national team”.

Devin is an under 23 rider who in 2019 rode for the Spanish Under 23 team, Caja Rural, probably the biggest highlight so far in his career. His aspirations, he explains, is to go to World Tour. “At the moment, I am counting my blessings that I am still an under 23 next year to try and achieve some good results. There are a lot of guys in worse situations than me being last year under 23s right now and sitting on the rollers in Spain thinking what am I doing.”

Devin has already had a victory this year on stage 4 of the Tour of Good Hope in early March (above). “Winning a stage was pretty cool. It was my first race of the year and there were some pro mountain bikers in there and a few former World Tour riders so there were some good riders racing and I won the queen stage.”

The Early Years

Racing in South Africa though for Devin has mainly been to prepare him for racing in Europe. “I have been coming to Europe now since I was 15” he explained.

“My first two years as a youth rider, I was racing in Belgium and the Netherlands then as a first year junior, I did a Nations Cup in Luxembourg for the South African national team and did more racing in The Netherlands and Belgium.”

“As a second year junior, I spent a few months in Spain and then a month in Italy. I got the ball rolling after I won a race in Spain and was fourth in a major Spanish race ’Vuelta al Besya’ which is the junior tour of Spain and through that, I met my current agent who is Maurizio Fondriest.

Maurizio Fondriest is a retired Italian professional road racing cyclist who was World Road Race champion in 1988, World Cup Series Champion 1991 and 1993 and won Milan San Remo in 1993. He also won the Kellogg’s Tour of Britain in 1994 among many other classics and events.

Devin (centre) racing for South Africa at the World Championships

“I went to Italy, raced a few races, did well and he signed me” says Devin. “He’s an amazing person” Devin added. “I have been with him for three years and the amount of experience a guy like him has is amazing. We’ll sit down at the dinner table and he’ll get phone calls from Stephen Roche and other big names. He is a great teacher”.

“The first year I was in Italy, I raced a full season there and then last year, I went to Spain and raced with local Spanish team ’Riax Baixas’. I did quite well and then after a month, I was signed by Caja Rural U23”

Having raced in so many countries, when asked which of them was his favourite to race in, he replied “Spain, which is why I moved from Italy to Spain because I knew that I could do better in Spain as the climbs are a little longer, a little bit more for climbers. Italy was more for punchy climbers so I prefer Spain.”

Going back to the World Championships he has raced in, Devin explained it was good to see where his level was. “The World Championship is the biggest race of the year for most riders so you know everyone is going there with red hot form so it is good to see where you are at and for us South Africans, it is a good place to see where we need to improve and how far off we are in being competitive.”

In the familar colours of Caja Rural (U23)

Racing however is on the back burner as he gets some riding in thanks to the help from the Cero Wheels / Cycle Division Racing Team. Not only has he got the best kit to ride in and on (the SCOTT bike), he also has the team’s talented Lucas and Alice Towers to push him along in training as well.

Cycle Division and JT (Jonny Towers) have set me up nicely” he says . “It’s my first time riding a SCOTT and it’s really nice. It’s my first time with disc brakes too which is cool. The Cycle Division shop has a bit of everything bike wise but the SCOTT is really great to ride.”

Devin is also riding on Cero Wheels which he is enjoying having seen Jonny Towers on them years before when they met. “They are such a beautiful wheel and they are fast, probably the best wheels I have ridden to be honest especially with the disc brake ones”.

For now, Devin can give his bike and wheels a good work out whilst in the UK but like most bike riders, he’s keen to get racing again. We wish him well for 2020 and fingers crossed, he and all of us get to see some bike racing before the year is out.

 

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