The strong South African MTN Energade team registered its first win at the International Cycling Classic with its victory at day three's Elgin Cycling Classic presented by Sherman Health. The team's Jay Thomson and Christoff Van Heerden finished first and second ahead of Garmin-Slipstream's Ricardo Van der Velde and a quality international field.
The 5.3-mile Elgin Cycling Classic course through residential roads was a new addition to Superweek and it was very technical with many sharp and twisting turns. It was completely closed off to traffic which was a welcome factor for the 75 pro riders present. Riders were full of praise for the course, some saying it was one of the best road circuits they had raced on and was mainly smooth and fast.
According to current yellow jersey holder Bernard Sulzberger (Fly V Australia) he found the course "really tough and the pace was on from the gun. I was feeling quite tired but still made the winning breakaway of the day. I ran out of food on the last two laps, was hunger flat and barely made it to the finish. The South African rider was just too strong and powered away from us".
Sulzberger finished sixth on the day and retained the leader's yellow jersey for another day, leading by a slender seven points ahead of Hans Dekkers (Garmin-Slipstream) who has accumulated 59 points. Thomson's win moved him into third overall with 55 points.
On the first lap of the race, three riders escaped and stayed away for a couple of laps before being caught. Heath Blackgrove (Team Hotel San Jose) made a move and took three others with him to establish a gap for a time, but since a couple of the big teams were missing it was chased down. Once the catch was made, a counter-attack went and this established the winning break of six riders containing Carlos Vargas (Team Hotel San Jose), Bernard Sulzberger (Fly V Australia), Dutch teammates Hans Dekker and Ricardo Van der Velde (Garmin-Slipstream) and also two South Africans , Jay Thomson and Christoff Van Heerden (Team MTN).
The break gained two minutes on the field and then Thomson attacked and rode solo for 37 miles to take the win with relative ease. The top 10 had a clear international flavor with only one American, Josh Carter in ninth place. Taiwan's Chun Kai-Feng (Team Exustar) put in an impressive ride to finish solo ahead of the peloton in seventh place.
In post-race interview, it was revealed that this was the ideal course for 23-year-old winner Jay Thomson. "Once I broke away I knew it was going to be a good day," he said. "A course like this with the short, steep climbs is great for me and it's what I like. Being from South Africa, it really helped with conditions like this."
The second place finisher and teammate of Thomson, Christoff Van Heerden (Team MTN), described how the finale played out. "With three laps to go Ricardo the Garmin rider sprinted for a prime and I let him go for 30 seconds to make sure a big gap was created before I bridged. I jumped away from the rest of the breakaway companions, caught Ricardo and we worked well together. Luckily for me, I am a sprinter so I got the better of him at the finish."
Carlos Vargas (Team Hotel San Jose) finished 45 seconds later in fourth place ahead of Hans Dekkers and Bernard Sulzberger.
The five-rider South African team intends to continue its success at Superweek. MTN Energade is the most successful South African professional team over the last decade, having won more than half of its races overall. In the past three years this winning ratio has increased to 65 percent. The team was founded in 1997 by Doug Ryder and it has become a South African sports institution where young, talented riders are trained and put onto the international stage.
The team plans on doing more events abroad, particularly in countries where their main sponsor, MTN, is looking to grow its brand and the International Cycling Classic is part of its international racing campaign.
|1||Jay Thomson (Team MTN)|
|2||Christoff Van Heerden (Team MTN)|
|3||Ricardo Van Der Velde (Garmin Slipstream Pro-Tour)|
|4||Carlos Vargas (Hotel San Jose/Rgm Advisors)|
|5||Hans Dekkers (Garmin Slipstream Pro-Tour)|
|6||Bernard Sulzberger (Fly V Australia)|
|7||Chun-Kai Feng (Team Exustar Taiwan)|
|8||Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V/Australia)|
|9||Joshua Carter (Abd Cycling Team)|
|11||Chad Burdzilauskas (Kenda Pro Cycling Presented By Spinergy)|
|12||Andrew Dahlheim (Metro Volkswagen Cycling Team)|
|13||Michael Van Eerd (Team Yrc Now Ms)|
|14||Jason Short (Rbm Matrix)|
|15||Isaac Howe (Puerto Rico Cycling Team)|
|16||Chad Hartley (Team Geargrinder)|
|17||Robert White (Team Geargrinder)|
|18||Juan Van Heerden (Team Mtn)|
|19||Oneal Samuels (Myogenesis.Com P/B United Healthcare)|
|20||Jason Lowetz (Team Bearclaw)|
|21||Curtis Gunn (Fly V Australia)|
|22||Andrew Bradley (Gourmetfein)|
|23||Juan Gaspari (Zmotion)|
|24||Calixto Bello (Zmotion)|
|25||Craig Streit (Carlos Obriens Racing)|
|26||Chris Wallace (Mercy Cycling Team)|
|27||Juan R Martinez (Puerto Rico Cycling Team)|
|28||Ryan Freund (Abd Cycling Team)|
|29||Bryan Mcvey (Vision Quest)|
|30||Wei-Cheng Lee (Team Exustar Taiwan)|
|31||Wei-Cheng Lee (Team Exustar Taiwan)|
|32||Ian Mclead (Team Mtn)|
|33||Hector Pastorino (Zmotion)|
|34||Mike Tettleton (Team Bearclaw)|
|35||Bradley Potgiver (Team Mtn)|
|36||John Mckeen (Team Bearclaw)|
|37||James Stemper (Team Geargrinder)|
|1||Nicky Wangsgard (Colavita Sutter Home P/B Cooking Light)|
|2||Shontell Gauthier (Colavita Sutter Home P/B Cooking Light)|
|4||Amy McGuire (Hub Racing)|
|5||Jennifer Purcell (Colavita/Sutter Home)|
|6||Emma Petersen (Team Ultralink)|
|7||Jeannie Kuhajek (Team Mack)|
|8||Mei-Yu Hsiao (Team Exustar Taiwan)|
|9||Julia Farell (Team Ultralink)|
|10||Kate Ross (Lip Smacker)|
|11||Elizabeth Morse Hill (Hub Racing)|
|12||Veronica Martinez (Hub Racing)|
|13||Julia Lafranchise (Now-Ms Society)|
|14||Sheba Farrin (Hub Racing)|
|15||Anna Young (Team Lip Smacker)|
|16||Marie Rosado (Puerto Rico Cycling Team)|
|17||Gina Voci (Juice Plus)|
|18||Liz Leyden (Hub Racing)|
|19||Lauren Liscinski (Now-Ms Society)|
|20||Ho-Hsun Huang (Team Exustar Taiwan)|
|21||Francine Haas (Alberto's Sport)|
|22||Luz E. Rodriguez (Puerto Rico Cycling Team)|
|23||Ashley Anderson (Proman Hit Squad)|
|24||Julie Jerue (Is Corp)|