About to begin his fourth season as a professional rider, Youcef Reguigui is one of Dimension Data’s rising talents, and he believes he’s in his best shape yet. The team has been busy signing more experienced riders this winter, but Reguigui is one of 13 from the African continent to be snapped up for the 2016 season.
The Algerian sprinter and developing classics rider joined the team in its first season as a Pro Continental outfit back in 2013. His results have been slowly improving until he enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2015, winning the Tour de Langkawi and making his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana.
Reguigui enjoyed a luxurious three weeks off the bike after his final race at Paris-Tour, but now he’s raring to go and make 2016 bigger and better. “It was a very good season, but I want more this season,” he told Cyclingnews at the team’s Cape Town training camp at the end of 2015. “My performances have gone up progressively. From last year to this year, it was very different.
“I was happy because I finished my first Grand Tour, which was very important. I have never raced like this over 21 days and now, how I feel at this point is much better than it was last year. Next year I think that my condition will be much higher.”
Reguigui is one of the quieter characters in the Dimension Data team but that all changes when he’s on the bike. The 25-year-old has struck up a close friendship with his fellow sprinter and polar opposite, Kristian Sbaragli, with one directeur sportif describing them as ‘two peas in a pod’. The duo are the same age and joined the team at the same time, and the team are confident that Reguigui can deliver the goods like Sbaragli did at the Vuelta a Espana.
In 2016, Reguigui will be learning from one of the best with Mark Cavendish signing for the team along with Mark Renshaw and Bernard Eisel. Along with the new WorldTour licence, things are a world away from what they were a short while ago.
“It’s good. (Cavendish) has also brought a lot of guys for the lead-out so I think that he has made the team much stronger for next year and we can win some more big races,” he said. “If you look three or four years back, you see that MTN was just a Continental team and now it in the WorldTour. It’s a big change from this small African team. It is the first African team at that level and to see that happen with African riders it is really nice.”
Reguigui is undecided if he will return to defend his title at the Tour de Langkawi but has big plans for the 2016 season, include a return to both the cobbled and the Ardennes Classics. After making his Grand Tour debut, he’s also got his eyes set on a ride at the Tour de France. If he were to earn a spot he would be the first rider from his country to compete in the Tour de France since the 1950s.
“Next year I want to do Milan-San Remo and Tirreno-Adriatico, these are my preferred races,” he explained. “I would also like to do some Classic races like Amstel Gold, Paris-Roubaix or the Tour of Flanders. The Tour de France is also very important for me because if I do the Tour de France next year, I would be the first Algerian rider to participate in the Tour de France in a long time.”