Jay Thomson today became the new South African National road champion after winning the elite championships in Nelspruit. Louis Meintjes won the under 23 category after the two Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders attacked what was left of the main field with 35 kilometres to go.
A big group formed behind to bring the dangerous move back but the chase was in vain as Thomson and Meintjes crossed the finish line together to win the championships.
“There are no words that can describe what it means to be the South African National Champion,” Thomson said after the finish. “It feels like a weight has been taken off my shoulders. I am really excited about it and can’t be happier. I can’t wait to have the jersey on my back on Wednesday in Tirreno-Adriatico.
“I can’t not name one of my teammates today. They were just super strong. We were hoping that one of us would get away and other teams would chase and if it got brought back we’d attack again. When I saw Louis go up the road I attacked up one of the steep sections and got across to him as I sensed that was the moment in the race. With the two of us being in the top four of the time trial on Thursday, we knew we had the legs to take it to the finish,” he said smiling.
The gold medal for Thomson follows his silver he won in the individual time trial on Thursday. Today’s result means double gold for Meintjes after he won the under 23 category in the time trial on Thursday.
“Our feeder team [MTN-Qhubeka World Cycling Centre Africa] made the race really hard on the first two laps,” Meintjes said. “We planned to make it hard on the third lap so on the last little uphill section, I went and got away and shortly after Jay came across and we just stayed away. Our plan worked pretty well. It’s just amazing to have the jersey in the team. The way we rode today shows we have incredible depth in the team and we are all very happy,” the 21 year old concluded.
Thomson will fly to Italy tonight where he will line up in Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday. This will be the first timeever that an African team lines up in a WorldTour event.