Shaun-Nick Bester is one of South Africa’s most formidable pro cyclists. During his decade-long career, he has raced all over the world on both road and mountain bikes and has lined up at World Championships, World Cups and UCI races in both disciplines.
He now also helps other cyclists in his roles as a UCI-certified coach, team owner and nutrition expert.
Early dirt tracking days
“I started my career as a mountain biker and finished 11th in the junior category at the 2009 XCO World Cup in Pietermaritzburg. Later that year, I competed with the South African national road cycling squad in Europe,” explains Shaun-Nick.
He excelled in his rookie year on the international circuit and managed to become the first South African junior rider to finish on the podium of a UCI 2.1-rated tour.
“I was leading the Vuelta al Besaya until the last day when a small gap formed between myself and the eventual winner, which tied us in the general classification. Unfortunately, I was relegated to second based on a count-back of my stage finishes.”
Shaun-Nick went on to compete in the 2009 World Road Racing Championships in Moscow, where he finished 25th.
The road to Europe
“The road cycling bug bit me and I knew that I wanted to become a professional road cyclist in Europe after finishing school later that year.”
Shaun-Nick signed a contract with a Spanish amateur team in 2010, which was renewed for four consecutive seasons.
He then made the decision to come back home and see how the local scene suited his riding. “I was a regular on the podium but I still dreamt of riding for a pro European road cycling team.”
Shaun-Nick used his selection to the national team for the 2015 All African Games in the Congo to turn his ambition into reality.
“I competed in the road race finishing 6th overall, and we won a gold medal in the team time trial. I then got a call from my agent, who said that two professional European teams were interested in signing me.”
Shaun-Nick subsequently raced in Europe for two years, but a serious crash at the end of the 2017 season nearly ended his career.
Back to MTB’ing
After a gruelling and arduous recovery, Shaun-Nick began training again. “After a few weeks I decided to race the Tour de Plett mountain bike marathon. To my surprise, I finished 3rd. So I decided to give the Ashburton Ultra marathon series in Kaapsehoop a go and finished 5th there.”
That success reignited his passion for mountain biking, which prompted his return to the sport where his cycling career began.
He secured 18 victories in 2018 and the overall Nissan Trailseeker series win. He continues to work towards his ultimate goal of winning the South African national championship in the Men’s Elite category and subsequently started his own professional mountain bike team in 2019.
“I started team Darkhorse Wheels Pro Cycling to give emerging riders an opportunity to race at the highest level and develop and grow young talent into professionals.”
Darkhorse Wheels Pro Cycling currently consists of three professional mountain bike riders. Since its launch in January 2019, the team has achieved 44 victories.
A formidable partnership
And Shaun-Nick signed a contract with USN as his and the team’s nutrition sponsor. “I am a big believer in supplements and supplement timing. I love experimenting with new supplements that meet WADA regulations.”
And as a pro athlete and team owner, Shaun-Nick only partners with brands that provide the best products.
“USN is one of the best supplement companies in the world. Their R&D is at the cutting-edge of science, and the ingredients they use in their products are the highest quality. That’s why I approached the company and I feel fortunate that USN agreed to the partnership.”
Shaun-Nick’s daily supplement plan:
- Before training: USN XTS Pump N.O. The added beetroot powder which helps with oxygen uptake in the blood.
- During training and racing: USN PureFit Cyto Power HP for shorter, more intense sessions, and USN Epic Pro for longer, more taxing rides.
- After training: USN Purefit Pro Recover after long, taxing sessions and USN Epik Isobolic Whey gH after short, intense sessions or strength work.
Weekly training snapshot
Shaun-Nick trains 7 days a week. Rides last up to 4 hours on weekends, and 1:30-2:30 on weekdays, which include technical skills sessions.
His weekly ride schedule consists of:
- 2-3 high-intensity sessions
- 4-5 endurance-based rides
General strength work off the bike includes core, gym sessions and functional strength work with the TRX system.