By Bardy the Action Scribe

MTN Energade’s seasoned pros crafted a superb finale to give Jay Thomson the biggest win of his short career at the Pick n Pay The Star Fast One 103km road cycling racing race in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Jay Thomson started off his 2008 domestic season with the biggest win of his career at the Pick n Pay The Star Fast One in Johannesburg on Sunday.

After dominating the local racing scene by winning more than 70 percent of the races they entered in 2007, MTN Energade was a marked team on Sunday at the traditional season-opening point-to-point event, which started in the south of Johannesburg and finished at Vanderbijlpark.

After 40km of racing, MTN Energade decided to try and whittle down the huge Elite men’s pack and made use of a crosswind and some relentless ‘gutter riding’ to get a nine-rider group off the front. MTN Energade had four riders in the escape – Malcolm Lange, Nicholas White, Waylon Woolcock and Thomson. Konica Minolta were represented by Christoff van Heerden and Pieter Seyffert, with Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Neotel), Richard Baxter (House of Paint) and Michael Sowerby (Cycle Lab Toyota) completing the pack.

The lead group worked smoothly to retain a – sometimes very slender – lead over the chasing bunch and with numerical superiority and Lange, the defending champion and favourite elect in their arsenal, MTN Energade were, not surprisingly, expected to be the most dominant team in the finale.

With all thoughts and tactics being based on the final slightly uphill sprint, Woolcock threw in a surprise attack with a kilometre-and-a-half remaining. That forced the two Konica Minolta riders to chase him down, catching him just as the pack turned into the final straight.

White began to wind up the leadout for Lange with Thomson on his wheel and Lange on Thomson’s wheel. All expectations were for Thomson to take over the leadout from White and then try to catapult Lange into a full-speed dash for the line.

But a shrewd Lange could sense the anticipation of this move by the rival teams who were desperately trying to secure a place on his wheel. As Thomson took over from White, Lange soft-pedalled momentarily, giving his opposition a ‘dead wheel’ and subsequently too much ground to make up on a flying Thomson.

“Malcolm shouted for me to go for it and I just put my head down and gave it everything,” said Thomson, a 21-year-old newcomer on the team. “I’m not a pure sprinter but more a power rider and the gradual uphill finish suited me. It’s a great way to start off the year!”

Thomson clocked a winning time of 02hrs06min50sec for a super-fast average speed of 48.73km. Lange secured the runner-up spot with Van Heerden grabbing the final podium position.

“It was great to get first and second because Nic and Waylon did so much work to help set up the finish for Malcolm and I,” explained Thomson. “I’m learning so much from the experienced riders on the team, especially Nic, Malcolm and Neil (MacDonald). It’s been amazing!”

Pick n Pay The Star Fast One 103km 2008
Leading results
Elite Men
1 Jay Thomson (MTN Energade) 02hrs06min50sec
2 Malcolm Lange (MTN Energade)
3 Christoff van Heerden (Konica Minolta) both same time
4 Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Neotel)
5 Richard Baxter (House of Paint) both @ 2sec
6 Michael Sowerby (Cycle Lab Toyota) @ 3sec
7 Nicholas White (MTN Energade) @ 4sec
8 Pieter Seyffert (Konica Minolta) @ 5sec
9 Waylon Woolcock (MTN Energade) @ 5sec
10 Jamie Ball (House of Paint) @ 29sec