As a race that celebrates Joburg cycling, it gives us much joy when a Joburg boy realises his dreams in the sport. Thus, when Jay Thomson was included in the Team Dimension Data squad for the 2018 Tour de France, our Joburg hearts were full and proud for the man from Krugersdorp.
Thomson comes from a family with a strong cycling background. His father, Mike, was a former South African road champion, which Jay emulated in 2013, while his brother, Mike jnr, won a bronze medal on the track as the pilot for the partially sighted Gavin Kilpatrick in the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. Jay rode his first Cycle Challenge in 2003 as a 15-year-old, the year he first took up the sport, and finished in a time of 2:53;39 with an average speed of 32.72. He finished third in 2008.
He has become one of the most highly-respected “domestiques” in international cycling and at the Tour deFrance his job was to look after Dimension Data’s star sprinter, Mark Cavendish. We caught up with him in France for a quick chat.
It’s actually quite hard to describe what you go through at the Tour, emotionally and physically. It’s been a long journey for me just to get here. I kept on dreaming that this was possible, to be here. This was what I always wanted. To be here. There were a couple of times on this journey, when you are lying on the side of the road when you want to give up, but you keep on dreaming. You want to be on the biggest stage. You want to stand here and experience this, to see how happy your family is for you to be here. That has kept me motivated. It has been incredible. I have loved every minute of it.Jay Thomson, Team Dimension Data rider
Jay Thomson impressed at his first Tour de France this year. Here he is at the start of stage 19 in Lourdes with fellowJoburg boys South African champion Daryl Impey (left) and 2007 Tour de France stage winner Robbie Hunter (right). (pic: Kevin McCallum)