Sipho Mona (General manager Velokhaya): “From what I can remember about him when we first met was a determined young boy of 15 who had a lot on his plate from doing many activities at school and being part of the athletic program. His talent came to light when he went out on a ride with Luthando and other junior riders and as we had suspected from his physique that he might make a great cyclist one day.
He never disappointed. The rides would start with him meeting us at the circle in Muizenberg and it would be straight around the coast. The day of reckoning came when the team was going up Red Hill and Luthando (who was on form that time as he had just come back from Europe), was amazed as Nic sat with the group up the whole climb as an inexperienced 16 year old.
We then quickly put more focus on him and knew we had the right individual and what we did with the likes of Luthando and Songezo we implemented with Nic. One of the issues we had was that with his talent in both athletics and cycling meant he was needed in the cross country arena as a provincial runner and we needed him as a possible top rider for a Pro team.
We had to go to his parents house which we were now regulars of “madlamini” and Nic, sit them down and ask him to literally choose his sport. That day he made the right decision and chose cycling, this meant that we were able to work with him and take him to all the races to better his race craft. With that came the Youth Festival where we chose him as one of our representatives and he obliterated his competition by riding to a solo victory!
It was a matter of time for Nic to be spotted for his talent and we pride ourselves in having played a role to be what he has become. Velokhaya is about creating champs on and off the bike and just like we did with Luthando, Songezo, Nic and the past and present members is to provide opportunities and guidance towards realizing their true potential. Whether it be academic or cycling. Wishing Nic all the best and this will definitely rub off on other members at our Organisation.”
From Greg James, Founder of JAG: “In 2009 Nicholas Dlamini joined the JAG Foundation JAGRunners programme in Vrygrond Township (Capricorn Park) as quiet and shy yet energetic grade 8. His first session with coach Roger Daniels, revealed Nicholas’s legs were the ones that did the speaking on his behalf. Nicholas showed immense dedication, ambition and respect for running from the onset; we believe this quick learning was due to his drive to compete at a higher level as fast as his legs would take him.
Shortly after becoming a JAGRunner, we identified Nicholas as a prime candidate for our Role Model Bursary Fund, where together with his mother Gloria, we assisted towards funding his schooling at Steenberg High School. Nicholas inevitably achieved multiple trophies and awards through running, as well as his Western Province colours in his age group for cross country.
Soon, however, the running fields seemed too confining for the talent Nicholas possessed… and the opportunity to compete in a duathlon event arose, which unknowingly would be the event which would propel him into the world of cycling. Nicholas fell so in love with his bicycle, that he used to keep it locked up in the toilet, as he said no one would think to look in the toilet to steal his bicycle”,
Again, soon enough, Nicholas received his Western Province colours for Duathlons and proved extremely competitive in cycling, and at this point made the big decision to focus all his energy into the latter.
This ‘energy’ Nicholas focused not only into himself, but became a coach and mentor to other JAG children in the community, teaching them to ride bicycles and nurtured promising junior cyclists who aspired to follow his footsteps. Maintaining this connection to his beginnings and mission to give back, speaks volumes about his character, and regularly visited former running peers whilst cycling to say “Hi”.
We at JAG are exceptionally proud of what Nicholas has achieved and the man he has become.”
Vanessa and Ryan Sandes: “Ryan and I met Nicholas 7 years ago through the JAG foundation. We were ambassadors for the foundation and worked with kids from disadvantaged backgrounds under the JAG Runner’s umbrella of the company. He was a very talented all-round athlete and back then he was doing some trail running but excelling in triathlon in particular. We knew from the moment we met him that he was destined for great things! There’s something very special about Nic… he has impeccable manners, is kind and well spoken, and has a determined drive for success like no other!
Ryan was a mentor to Nic in that, at the time, he encouraged Nic to make a decision as to whether he was going to pursue cycling or triathlon as he couldn’t excel or become professional at both. He had to focus on one sport only to make a success of it.
Throughout the 7 years after we met Nic we continued to mentor him and still do. He became a part of the family and I now fondly call him my “adopted son”.
I’ll never forget the night he and some of the other JAG Runners spent the night at our home. The teenagers had pizza and watched movies and had such fun! A far cry from the lives they lead in crime and drug ridden townships. The boys were able to relax for one night of their lives and just be kids… it meant a lot to Ryan and I to give them that chance to just let go and enjoy a night of carefree fun.
I introduced Nic to Sven Thiele from HotChillee in 2013, when the Cape Rouleur, which HotChillee own, wanted to invite some development riders to join them at the race. Nic never looked back as it was that introduction that really catapulted his career. Sven has been an integral part to Nic’s career success!
In 2015 Nic was not only cycling for MTN Qhubeka’s development feeder team in Potchefstroom, he was also completing his high school career through correspondence. As usual he made me so proud and juggled his studies, training and racing like a pro! He’s got his head well screwed on and knows that he can’t cycle professionally forever so his education is vital. He got his matric that year and is now studying sport coaching and administration.
Nic continues to make us so incredibly proud and nothing in this world will make me happier than seeing him race at the Tour de France one day! He told me once, many years ago, that one day he will ride in his dream race – the Tour de France… that “pipe dream” he spoke of as a teenager is likely to become a reality very soon!
First big media engagement. Nic appears on stage in front of 400 riders LONDON-PARIS riders with Nigel Mansell, Stephen Roche, Maurzio Fondriest, Phil Liggett. First time out of SA. Fluffs his opening sentences. Stops, pauses, takes a deep breath. Tells audience he is extremely nervous and explains why this is so important to him – wins over entire audience and never looked back.
Ben Swift (Team UAE World Tour Rider): “I first rode with Nic in 2014, I was down doing my winter training in Cape Town. And whilst down there I got to meet and ride with Nic. I could see straight away the potential he had. He was strong beyond his years. He also had a great passion and desire for cycling.
From the first day we got on well and quickly grew a friendship and I took on a mentor role with him as I believed that one day he could reach the top level.
Our first event together was with team HotChillee on the Coronation Double Century which is a tough 202km TTT with 12 riders. Nic was still very young at the point still a junior. But he was already one of the strongest in the team. He didn’t miss a turn and was just as motivated in the final 10km as he was in the first 10km. This was impressive to say the least.
I am happy to say that from that point our friendship has grown and I am proud to say I have helped nic along the way. Mainly just giving advice and helping with the training and also about off the bike stuff how to handle yourself as a professional athlete. I have seen him develop and grow from strength to strength and I am very much looking forward to racing along side him in the coming years.
He has a very bright future and I am looking forward to watching it grow. “
Magnus Backstedt, Team Backstedt Hotchilee: “Meeting Nic for the first time one thing was clear to me, here was a young man who was immensely driven and with an open mind to learn all the time. A perfect concept for a professional rider. In my mind, it was only a question of time before he got the opportunity to step up to the big league. Personally, I’m happy to have been able to guide him some of the way and pass on my experience like I now do with the Team Backstedt/Hotchillee development team. If Nic continues with the same work ethic as he has had until now I’m sure he will go far in this sport.”
Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais: “From my very first interaction with Nic, through his will to succeed and unwavering dedication, it was clear that he was destined for greatness and his selection into this prestigious team is testament to this. Nic has undoubtedly become a beacon of inspiration to development cyclists not only back home but the world over. He has indeed highlighted the need for sustainable support to grassroots cycling to afford these opportunities to achieve the best on the international stage”.
Richard Baker, MD Wattbike Consumer Hot Chillee called me from the Cape Rouleur event where you had discovered Nic as a 17 year old living in a small hut in a shanty town with the worlds highest crime rate. It was clear that he has a raw talent for cycling but that there was no opportunity for him. The idea was then created to create an opportunity for Nic to show case his talents, something that would never have happened without some of your key partners supporting you.
We discussed this and with Wattbikes passion for creating avenues to develop riders and giving them an opportunity to realise their talents we were keen to play an active role in bringing Nic to Europe to ride the L2P.
We then covered the cost of Nic’s place for the L2P and supplied Nic with Wattbike kit to ride the event, personalised with his name down the side. I remember the look on his face when we delivered the kit. Nic had not long been in the UK, have never been outside his province before, and then we landed brand new kit with his name on!
One thing that struck me was the composure Nic had at this time. He was in another hemisphere, gearing up to race on roads that were completely alien to him, alongside seasoned racers and ex professionals such as Dean Downing and Magnus Backtstedt, press from the cycling media wanting to interview him, brands such as Wattbike wanting a quote or two, and yet he had a pragmatic approach to it all. Giving time to anyone that wanted to give him time. Even before you saw what he was capable of on the bike he had the air of a professionalism and drive about him that made you instantly proud to be associated with him.
Nic then went on to win the Green and Yellow jersey’s for the 2013 L2P
I was fortunate enough to ride the HotChillee Cape Rouleur as part of the Wattbike team a year later. Seeing Nic another year on, already developing as a rider was very impressive. What was even more impressive was that, even before I had the opportunity to see who was around me, Nic made the point in coming over and welcoming me to SA and thanking Wattbike again for the opportunity to ride in Europe the previous year – he is a true champion of the cycle sport, never forgetting his routes and the friends that have played their part in creating a gateway for Nic to show his worth and talent. We are immensely proud to have had the opportunity to support Nic and wish every success as a professional rider.”