Jay Thomson (South Africa, Team Bissell)
© photo: bissellprocycling.com
25-year old Jay Robert Thomson is a professional cyclist on the UCI Continental Bissell Pro Cycling Team. A fine time trialist and an accomplished all-rounder, Jay has been African Continental Time Trial champion twice and winner of the South African Time Trial Champs (U23 and Elite Men). He’s also won a stage at Langkawi (2010) and won the overall at the Tour of Egypt (2008).
Jay was on the Australian Fly-V team that looked to be set for a Pro-Tour license for this season, meaning that Jay and his teammates would have been riding the Classics and at least one Grand Tour this year, but that license was denied by the UCI at the last moment. With little time before the season began, Jay and several teammates were left to find new teams.
Jay is also a supporter of BikePure, the non-profit organization working to change the doping culture within the sport.
As he prepares for the forthcoming 2011 Amgen Tour of California, he took time off from his training to speak to CYCLINGTIME.com.
CYCLINGTIME.com: The Tour of California! Are you on the roster? And if so, will this be the biggest race of your career?
Jay Thomson: Yeah I’m on the roster for the Bissell Pro cycling team for the Tour of California. This is one of the biggest tours I will have done. I have ridden the Tour of Britain and the Tour of Ireland two or 3 times already.
CT: Realistically what can Bissell expect to get from the race? And what are your individual goals?
JT: Well I really think the team can be there to be super aggressive and animate the race. Of course a stage win or a podium finish is a good goal from the team.
CT: You know more than most how arbitrary the UCI can be regarding team classifications - Bissell are now a Continental team yet you’ve had some good rides this year, particularly your win at the Martin Stage Race, where you beat a Garmin-Cervelo rider. How would you rank your new team?
JT: I would be brave enough to say that I think the Bissell Team is definitely one of the top teams in the USA racing scene and its hard to say how we stand against the rest of the world, but I can promise you there is plenty of drive in the team and really great riders.
CT: OK, onto the subject I am sure you’d rather leave behind you, but let’s get it out of the way - take us through your experience from hearing that Fly V wouldn’t get either Pro Tour or even Pro-Conti, to now...
JT: Well when I first heard I was shocked and didn’t know what to really think or do. So the first thing I did was start asking around to find a job. Nobody wants to lose their job anytime of the year but over the Christmas time was not ideal. Lucky enough for me, I was given this opportunity to ride for Bissell and I haven’t looked back since. I’m 100% focused and dedicated to the team and we shall see what the future holds for me, but at this moment I’m excited to be on Bissell.
CT: You are a registered BikePure advocate -how did that come about?
JT: We were racing the Tour of Ireland back in 2009 and I got to meet Andy from BikePure and we spoke a little about what they were doing for the sport, and I think it’s fantastic, so how could I not want to be part of such a great organization?
CT: What are your views on the current state of doping in the sport?
JT: Well I’ve never really been in the thick of it but of what I see and what I’ve heard, it definitely sounds like there is less of it going on - or maybe I’m just optimistic and think that there is less...
CT: Do you have any ideas regarding longer bans for dopers, bigger fines etc? Or do we need to completely overhaul the education riders get when they come into the sport?
JT: I think 2 years is not enough for the serious cases. I really think as a sport we can stand up and get rid of more cheats by putting heavier penalties on the guys that are caught. If the risk is so high, many of the guys will think a lot more before they do it, and hopefully one day we will have a clean sport.
CT: Apart from your current bike which I am sure is very good, what was your favorite bike and why?
JT: To be total honest I think the Pinarello is one of the most amazing bikes I’ve ever ridden. I can actually say that and believe it!
CT: Are you a ‘bike geek’, or ‘just’ a rider?
JT: I’m more of a rider then a bike geek but I like to know what’s going on and why things are done and also like to make sure my bike is at its best for me.
CT: Your favorite post-ride meal is....?
JT: At the moment, humus and rice cakes with tomatoes is my thing for after a ride, very salty.
CT: If you weren’t a cyclist you’d be a...?
JT: Something that has to do with the financial world.
CT: Who is the toughest competitor you’ve raced with?
JT: Wow that’s a hard one to say cause I’ve done the Worlds a few times, but here in the United States its definitely Francisco Mancebo from RealCyclist.com. He is a super hard and talented bike rider.
CT: What’s your poison? Beer? Wine? Juice?
JT: If I drink, I’m a red wine man.
CT: How do you remain motivated to train?
JT: Well I just absolutely love it! I love spending hours on my bike. I can’t think of any better feeling then racing and winning a race and knowing that all those long hours you put in have paid off. It really makes the moment.
CT: Can you take us through a week of your training at the moment? Any secrets in there?
JT: Not many secrets just lots of hours and good solid intervals. I won’t go into exactly what I do but an average week for me is around 25 to 30 hours.
CT: Now you’re on the Bissell team and spending a lot of time in America - but you make it clear that Europe is the ultimate goal. Is there one specific race there that you want to race more than others, and if so, why?
JT: Paris-Roubaix is on top of my dream list and of course I’d love to do one of the three Grand Tours.
CT: What is it that you get from racing and riding that is special? It’s a tough life - why do it?
JT: That’s the reason why I love it cause it’s a hard life and it’s a disciplined life. I love the fact that everything that you do throughout the day counts towards your bike. That goes from sleeping, eating, training and being active when you shouldn’t be.
CT: Thank you Jay!
JT: Thank you.
1st, Joe Martin Stage Race, stage 3
1st, Joe Martin Stage Race, sprinter's jersey
1st, Merco Cycling Classic, points classification
2nd, Merco Cycling Classic, GC
3rd, Sea Otter Classic, stage 2
3rd, Merco Cycling Classic, stage 4
4th, Sea Otter Classic, GC
4th, Merco Cycling Classic, stage 2
5th, Merco Cycling Classic, stage 1
8th, Tour of the Gila, stage 4
8th, Sea Otter Classic, time trial
8th, Merco Cycling Classic, stage 3
1st, Tour of Langkawi Stage 2 (Malaysia)
1st, Tour of Wellington Stage 3 (New Zealand)
1st, Sprinters Jersey Tour of Wellington (New Zealand)
1st, Sprinters Jersey in Tour of Redlands
1st, Sprinters Jersey in Tour of Cascades
1st, Boulder Roubaix (USA)
1st, Superweek Race Criteruim
2nd, KOM jersey Tour of Wellington (New Zealand)
2nd, Stage 3 of the Tour of Fitchburg
2nd, Overall in the Tour of Fitchburg
3rd, Tour Wellington Stage 2 (New Zealand)
3rd, Tour of Wellington Overall (New Zealand)
3rd, Tour of Battenkill
3rd, Stage 4 Tour of Fitchburg
3rd, Superweek Berverly Criterium
1st, African Continental Time Trail Champion (Namibia)
1st, Graskop hill climb champs overall (RSA)
1st, Graskop hill climb champs stage 1, 2 (Hill Time Trial) and 3
1st, Superweek Road Race Holy Hill
1st, Superweek Criterium, Shiltz Park
1st, Super week Road Race, Elgin
1st, Tour of Boland stage 2 (RSA)
1st, SA Track Championships - 15km Scratch Race (RSA)
1st, Provincial Track Champion in Points, Scratch and Individual Pursuit
2nd, Tour of Boland Overall and stage 3 (RSA)
2nd, Knysna Oyster festival (RSA)
2nd, Giro Del Capo Day 2 (RSA)
2nd, SA Track Championships - Points Race (RSA)
2nd, Emerald Casino Classic (RSA)
2nd, African Continental Road Race (Namibia)
3rd, SA Time Trial Championships (RSA)
3rd, Emperors Palace Classic (RSA)
3rd, Overall and in stage 3 in 4 stage race Kremetart (RSA)
5th Overall in Superweek
Winner of the Sprints Jersey for Superweek
Winner of the award for the Best track rider of the SA Track Champs
Winner of KOM jersey day 1 of Giro Del Capo
African Continental Time Trail Champ (Morocco)
Overall winner of Tour of Egypt (EGYPT)
1st, SA Time Trial Champs overall and under 23 (RSA)
1st, Hyper to Hyper (RSA)
1st, All African Championships Time Trial (Morocco)
1st, Tour of Egypt stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 (EGYPT)
2nd, Tour of Gabon stage 3 (GABON)
2nd, Sprint Points Classification overall (GABON)
2nd, 94.7 cycle Classic (RSA)
3rd, Stage 6 tour of Egypt (EGYPT)
3rd, Tour of Soweto
3rd, Barloworld Classic
4th, U23 Cup of Nations overall and stage 1 (Canada)
Tour of Beauce, held KOM jersey for 4 days