Cape Town - Team Katusha Alpecin has announced that it has reached an agreement for the 2018 season with South African rider, Willem Smit.
In last Sunday’s elite World Championships road race in Bergen, Norway, the 24-year-old rider was the last rider to be caught after a break of more than 180km.
Smit is the current leader in the UCI Africa Tour. Earlier this year he won the gold medal in the African Continental Championships.
"In my life I was focused on one dream: to become a World Tour rider," Smit said via an official team release.
"I started the season with two medals in the South African Championships (road and time trial) and a gold medal in the African Championship Road Race, too. I was very happy and I thought that it would open up an opportunity in professional cycling.
"But that didn't happen. So I decided that if professional cycling doesn't ring at my doorbell, I had to ring it myself by travelling to Europe and showing my potential.
"It was not easy because I have a long season and I run in two continents. But finally the dream has become real.
"I don't have any doubt. It is my dream. Now I cannot wait to start working for the team at the maximum level of cycling."
2017 has been Smit's best so far. He has obtained 16 victories in the current season. While riding for the RoadCover Cycling Team he took overall wins in the Mpumalanga Tour, the Clover Lowveld Tour and the Tour Meles Zenawi (UCI 2.2) or “Tour of Ethiopia”.
For three months he raced in Spain and rode for Club Ciclista Rías Baixas.
In that period he won six races, including overall wins in the Vuelta a Segovia and Vuelta Ciclista a León and earned five second places and four third places.