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CALAIS, France (VN) – Less than three months ago, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg had packed his bags and left Europe believing that his chance at finding a pro contract was over.
The South African was left without a contract when Qhubeka-NextHash folded at the end of the 2021 season and had been unsuccessful in attempting to secure a place for this season.
After months of trying, Janse van Rensburg finally got a contract with Lotto Soudal and impressed enough in his opening races with the squad to get a place on the team’s Tour de France squad. Janse van Rensburg’s journey to the Tour de France has been so quick that his name is not yet printed alongside his teammates’ on the side of the bus.
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“It’s unbelievable. I still have to pinch myself a little bit to make sure it’s real. A couple of months ago, I was just fighting to get a contract with any team let alone the biggest bike race in the world. It’s amazing,” Janse van Rensburg told VeloNews.
“I think I’ve started pretty well with the team, and I did a pretty good job for the guys, and they were quite impressed with how I was riding so that earned me a spot in the Tour de France team. I look forward to seeing what I can do here.”
Janse van Rensburg was not the only Qhubeka-NextHash alumni to be saved by Lotto Soudal’s mid-April spending spree with Carlos Barbero securing a contract as well. Their former teammate Domenico Pozzovivo was saved from retirement earlier this year by Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert.
— Reinardt JvRensburg (@ReinvanRensburg) July 2, 2022
Despite not having a contract in the early part of the year, Janse van Rensburg spent months training like he was still a professional. The goals of the national and continental championships were a goal that he focused on to help keep him motivated.
“It was very tough, a lot of uncertainty. I felt I was still on the top of my game. so I didn’t want to stop. I hoped that they would open up a spot in one of the teams, but I was super motivated to keep training,” Janse van Rensburg said. “I think in one sense it gave me a bit of a different perspective on cycling. I realized sport can be over very fast.
“For everybody, there’s an end to cycling and you have to make the most of it when it’s there and you have to enjoy it because when you’re not a cyclist anymore then nobody really cares. Also, it helped me to deal with the pressure a little bit better. I’m just enjoying it at the moment.”
Janse van Rensburg’s call back to the WorldTour came just as he had given up hope of ever making it. In fact, he had flown back to South Africa from Europe just as Lotto Soudal got in contact with him.
After a quick chat with his landlord in Europe, he was back on a flight to restart his professional career.
“In the middle of April, I started to think, ok it’s probably not going to happen. I kind of accepted that I was going to have to move on,” he said.
“I packed up my apartment in Spain and got rid of most of my belongings in Europe and flew back to South Africa. A couple of hours after I landed, I had the email and that afternoon I had the contract on the table, so I came straight back. I had to call my landlord to say that I was going to move back into the flat I’d just moved out of.
“I had the feeling that once I made the call it would happen. I was kind of stoking fate.”
Janse van Rensburg’s contract with Lotto Soudal lasts until the end of the season but he’s hoping to impress his new employers enough to stay at the team a little bit longer.
“Until the end of the year, I have a contract and I hope to extend for next year. Hopefully, I can do a good job here and the team would like to extend. I am off to a good start and I think I am going in the right direction,” Janse van Rensburg said.