Oliveira do Hospital, Portugal – The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Jay Thomson (RSA) went on a hot mid-summer’s afternoon romp at the Tour of Portugal to win Stage One of the race’s 2012 edition in convincing manner. The versatile South African’s crushing performance not only earned him the stage victory, he captured all five King of the Mountains (KOM), secured the position of overall points leader, and helped his team win the Team General Classification. Thomson’s Teammate, Marc de Maar (CUR), also landed a spot in the top 10, finishing fifth on the stage.
Thomson, who is a well-known long breakaway specialist, went off the front early in the race with Luis Mas Bonet (SPA) of Burgos BH/Castilla e Leon, and the two stayed in the break for most of the day until Thomson pulled away and launched a solo effort that at its peak saw him build a gap of more than 15 minutes over the field before he eventually won the stage by 36 seconds over a pair of LA Aluminios Antarte teammates, Hugo Sabido (POR), who took second and third place finisher, Edgar Pinto (POR).
Standing atop the podium following his wild 200.8km ride from Termas Monfortinho to Oliveira do Hospital, an exhausted but elated Thomson took it all in – along with the KOM and yellow jerseys – and celebrated the day with his teammates.
In a post race interview, Thomson reflected on what was nothing short of a Herculean effort, saying, “It was extremely difficult, just two of us for 170km is a long time, but the last 50km were probably the hardest 50km of my life. Today, I’ll enjoy winning the stage with my Team, the Team GC, and going into the yellow jersey. For me, it’s incredible. It’s the best day of my life.”
Thomson was asked by a reporter how it felt to be the second South African rider to win in the first two days of the Tour of Portugal to which he responded, “Oh it’s great! After Reinardt (Van Rensburg, MTN Qhubeka) winning yesterday, he’s an incredible bike rider, so for me to take the yellow jersey and being South African, it’s incredible.”
Team Director, Hendrik Redant, said, “This is a long Tour but starting off the way we have the past two days has been great. Jay’s effort today was just amazing. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ll enjoy this and get back to bike racing. Two good days on the bike and we couldn’t be prouder of this bunch of guys.”
The 10-stage Volta a Portugal em Bicicleta 2012 (Tour of Portugal) continues tomorrow with Stage 2 and runs from August 15 – August 26, 2012.
TEAM UNITEDHEALTHCARE ROSTER FOR THE 2012 VOLTA A PORTUGAL (August 15-26):
Hilton Clarke (AUS)
Jonny Clarke (AUS)
Marc de Maar (CUR)
Davide Frattini (ITA)
Jason McCartney (USA)
Kai Reus (NED)
Jay Thomson (RSA)
Boy van Poppel (NED)
Brad White (USA)
Team Director: Hendrik Redant (BEL)
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