"I had the feeling that I did something important"
After his first season stepping down from the WorldTour with team Movistar to emerging Pro-Continental outfit MTN-Qhubeka, Sergio Pardilla could have been excused for feeling underwhelmed. For 29-year-old Spaniard, however, that couldn't be further from the truth. Aside from playing his part in results such that as that famous victory by Gerard Ciolek at Milan-San Remo, or his own victory in the fourth stage at the Volta a Portugal, Pardilla has also helped the team in its goal of developing cycling in Africa.
"This first year with MTN-Qhubeka has been a wonderful experience," Pardilla told A&A Sport. "The team has a different philosophy than the other teams. They are not crazy about points and there is no pressure to get results.
"Doing well in the races is of course important but they also value the message of Qhubeka and the improvement of young African talents so that the team can contest the Tour with riders from this continent in the future."
As a part of their relationship with World Bicycle Relief, MTN-Qhubeka have played their part in a system whereby people can earn a bicycle through community work with the ultimate goals being improved economic and sporting conditions in Africa.
"I had the feeling that I did something important," explained Pardilla. "You helped a lot of people thanks to the bikes which saved a lot of time for them. It was an experience we have tried to convey during the rest of the season."
For Pardilla, the team ethos off the bike has crept its way into how the team functions on the bike, with improvement through knowledge transfer being key.
"It is also part of the team's philosophy: exchange as a way to improve," he said. "This is done in African villages and we do it on the bike. My teammates have often helped me in the races and I have tried to teach the youngsters how to compete in Europe and what it means to be a professional."
With Daniel Teklehaimanot and John-Lee Augustyn both joining MTN-Qhubeka next year, it appears that Pardilla will be ably assisted in taking up and coming African cyclists under his wing.
"We have come far and although it is difficult to improve the results of this season, I am sure that we will do even better next year."
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