Alex West’s time in South Africa at the Zwift Academy Final didn’t result in a contract with Dimension Data for Qhubeka, but it was nevertheless an experience to savour as the Kiwi enjoyed a truly life-changing week with the likes of Bernard Eisel, Ben King, Mark Cavendish and the wider coaches and staff at the team. Afterwards we caught up with Alex to find out more about his time there.
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RC: First of all looking back on the Zwift Academy final and your experience over there, what are your immediate memories of the time you had with Dimension Data and your two co-finalists?
Alex: My immediate memories of my time over in Cape Town for the Zwift Academy Finals would have to start with the amazing scenery and weather. The coastal area of Cape Town is stunning. Then I would have to say winning the Alpe Du Zwift race was a pretty nice moment. Being able to ride with Mark Cavendish and practice lead outs is something a lot of people would dream of. Lastly the Qhubeka hand over bay was something to remember for a lifetime.
RC: You were put through a few different tests over the course of the week. What stood out to you as particular strengths and was there anything that you felt a bit more vulnerable doing?
Alex: During the testing periods, I feel my ability to stay steady and smooth during hard climbing efforts particularly impressed the coach and manager of the team along with the performance on the Alpe Du Zwift race. Overall I don’t think I showed any signs of weakness over the week across all the tests.
RC: What was it like being in that environment, not just riding with Ben King, Mark Cavendish and Bernard Eisel, but also with the wider coaching staff?
Alex: Being amongst the Dimension Data team was amazing, the riders and staff were extremely welcoming and included us in all of the activities and events along with letting us use any gear we wanted that the team had available. Riding with Ben King, Mark Cavendish and Bernie Eisel really opened my eyes to how friendly and approachable they were, it felt like they were all my mates already and we had a lot of great banter throughout the week, staff included.
RC: You were part of a bike hand over with the Qhubeka charity, talk us through that experience and what it was like witnessing the impact that the charity has on people who receive the bikes.
Alex: Getting to be a part of the Qhubeka bike hand out was probably the most humbling experience of my life. Seeing how much those bikes meant to those kids was an emotional time and I am so grateful to Zwift and Dimension Data for giving me this opportunity, something I will cherish and never forget.
RC: At the end of a rock and roll 2018 season for you, what have you taken from the season as a whole and from the Zwift Academy final?
Alex: 2018 has for sure been a hard year, mostly through injury due to a large crash at the start of August, basically putting an end to the rest of my season. I was happy with how I performed through the Zwift Academy and was disappointed to miss out on the contract but I feel as though I still have a lot of potential going forward if I am able to get the opportunity.
RC: Are you able to tell us what 2019 looks like for you at this stage?
Alex: At the moment I am focussing on some down time mentally but am actively looking for options for the 2019 season, watch this space!