The new national road race champion is on a path to high places if his development stays on track.
First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
Marc Pritzen describes his first season racing in Europe as an "eye-opener". The 21-year-old joined Qhubeka Assos's development squad Team Qhubeka in late 2019, when it still fell under the NTT banner, and squeezed in two races before the Covid-19 lockdown.
"When coming here, the first thing that you have to adjust to are the small roads and big bunches and fighting for your position," Pritzen says over the phone after a wet day training on the road from the team's base in Lucca, Italy.
"The only way I would have actually improved was to race more and then get experience. Then lockdown came and we were indoors for quite a while."
Bunkered down in the Tuscan city with Kiwi teammates Connor Brown and Drew Christensen, he stayed motivated with gruelling sessions on the Zwift app and somewhat overindulging in the local cuisine.
"The biggest motivation, I think, for the three in the house was food," he laughs. "We did tend to eat a bit more than we should have but there...