What's Cool In Road Cycling

Thomson describes Rwanda win as hardest victory

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s Jay Thomson topped off an incredible day in the first road stage of this year’s Tour of Rwanda. The South African national champion crossed the line solo after attacking a reduced lead group as the race entered the Kirehe city.

Louis Meintjes also made the podium rolling across the line third. Not to be overlooked, Adrien Niyonshuti finished ninth on what was a tough stage with over 1449 metres of climbing. A visibly exhausted Thomson collapsed after the finish line and immediately described the day as the hardest victory he’s ever achieved.

“The racing was super negative for the first 50 kilometres, then I made a conscious decision that we should start attacking. The guys did a great job. We were a unit. We all followed moves and shared the work equally and took turns to be in the action,” Thomson said.

He went on to explain that as the race entered the last hour, Rwandan, Niyonshuti made the first move that put the team on the front foot.

“We hit the last climb and we were going hard and I said to AD he should go. He attacked and made a real dent as the group went from 35 guys down to 20. Then Louis attacked and put it down to a group of six guys. The South Africans were on the backfoot and had to chase. As they caught Louis, I went on what I thought was the last climb. I got a gap but every bump that followed hurt. I was praying for the finish line to come those last 12 kilometres but I knew Louis was in the group behind so I knew I could give everything and if I exploded, Louis would go for the win,” Thomson added.

The result moved Thomson into the overall lead with Meintjes in second place, two seconds behind. Johann van Zyl and Songezo Jim finished safely in Niyonshuti’s group.

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung placed all riders in the top 20 on the stage and all riders are also in the top 20 of the general classification.

Tuesday’s stage 2 is seen by many as the queen stage as 151km await the peloton. The start takes place in Niyonshuti’s hometown, Rwamagana.

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