Thomson, Moolman wins SA Nationals
Jay Thomson 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.
MOOLMAN PASIO DOUBLE
On the women's front, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio gave the Momentum Toyota team the ultimate reward for an early season of hard work when she claimed both gold medals on offer at the 2013 South African Road Cycling Championships in Nelspruit at the weekend.
After racing to a dominant victory in the Elite women’s 33km individual time trial last Thursday, Moolman Pasio claimed the 112km road race title on Saturday, also with show of dominance.
Because the national championships was an official International Cycling Union (UCI) event, Moolman Pasio was compelled to change her allegiance from her South African-based Momentum Toyota team and race for the Belgian-based Lotto Belisol team, the internationally registered team for which she has been signed to race in Europe for most of the year.
“I’m very happy with the time trial title. It’s my first. It wasn’t my best effort but it was good enough to take the win. I prefer shorter, more technical time trials and don’t feel I was adequately prepared for such a long out-and-back course,” said Moolman Pasio.
On Saturday, the 27-year-old Boland region resident wasted no time in the road race, using her superior climbing strength to split the field on the first of two big climbs. Her Lotto Belisol teammate, Sharon Laws, the current British road race champion, was on hand to assist and the pair raced positively throughout, forcing their rivals to adopt a defensive strategy.
“I wanted to defend my road title and with just two of us from our team in the race, I needed to make the first move and use the climb – which came early on – to minimise the number of title challengers,” explained Moolman Pasio.
Only Laws, Lise Olivier and An-Li Kachelhoffer (Best-Med ASG) were able to match Moolman Pasio’s pace on the ascent. After initially assisting with the pacing, Olivier and Kachelhoffer decided they’d have a better shot at the win if the chasing group caught the break and opted to sit on at the back, forcing Laws and Moolman Pasio to pace themselves.
“Sharon sat on the front most of the time and kept the pace high enough so that the four riders chasing us wouldn’t be a threat. Then, when we got to the final big climb, I put in another hard effort and rode clear on my own, but was later joined by Sharon who, despite not feeling her best, rode across the gap to me. From then on it was a case of managing our advantage to the finish,” said Moolman Pasio, who cruised across the finish line first.
“It’s a very special honour to race in Europe in the South African champion’s jersey and that was my mission today. I wanted this title badly and I’m obviously delighted that I was able to achieve my goal. I have to thank Sharon for her assistance as my teammate. She was completely committed. I’m very motivated to race in Europe now. My form is coming good and my confidence is high.”
Because Laws isn’t a South African citizen, the silver medal went to third-placed finisher, Kachelhoffer with Olivier taking the bronze medal.