Expanding MTN-Qhubeka team brings Tour of Portugal stage winner Thomson on board
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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Expanding MTN-Qhubeka team brings Tour of Portugal stage winner Thomson on board

by VeloNation Press at 7:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Three year deal with team aiming to ride Tour de France

Jay ThomsonMTN-Qhubeka has set out the aim of riding the Tour de France in the next few years and, as part of that build-up, plans several new signings. The latest is the current UnitedHealthcare rider Jay Thomson, who has signed up on a three year contract.

The 26 year old showed his ability when he scooped a 40 second solo victory on day one of the Tour of Portugal. He continued to lead the race until the end of stage four, gaining important publicity for the American team. Now, after racing with Fly V Australia, Bissell Cycling and UnitedHealthcare, he’s ready to return to the team he competed with between 2008 and 2009.

“I really think Doug [Team Principal Douglas Ryder – ed.] and Team MTN-Qhubeka have taken things to the next step. With the team competing at a Professional Continental level it’s the logical choice for a guy like me to come back and grow with a team that’s going places,” he said, confirming the move.

“Besides, who wouldn’t want to be on the first Professional Continental team coming from their own continent? I'm excited and all of South Africa and Africa should be too.”

Apart from the Portuguese result, he’s also won the Tour of Egypt in the past, taken a stage in the Tour de Langkawi and two editions of the the African TT championships

“Jay is a great all round rider that can TT, sprint from a small group and ride all day in breakaways,” said Ryder, who is pleased Thomson is returning to the fold.

“He is best suited for hard European races and he will be a key component of our team’s European racing programme next year.”

Ryder sees him as having a leader’s role in some events. “He has been working the last three years for other riders in races all around the world. Now he can focus and specialise on races that suit his style of riding with team support to get him the results we all know he can,” he said.

More signings are expected to be confirmed soon. The team is going through the process of becoming the first African registered UCI Pro Continental team, and hopes for confirmation from the UCI this autumn.

MTN is a South Africa-based multinational mobile telecommunications company, while Qhubeka gives bicycles to children in rural areas across Africa.

Thomson states an intent to get involved with that project, seeing it having a couple of important goals. “I can't think of a better way for a cycling team, and as a cyclist, to give back to the community,” the South African said. “Besides, we might find a world champion from one of the children that gets a bike from the project.”


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