Thomson retires after not being renewed by Qhubeka Assos

Jay Thomson (NTT) at the UAE Tour in 2020
Jay Thomson (NTT) at the UAE Tour in February (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Jay Thomson, 34, has decided to retire from professional cycling after failing to gain a contract renewal to race in 2021 with Qhubeka Assos.

The NTT Pro Cycling squad lost its title sponsor this year and only got a late reprieve in the form of support from Assos and the Qhubeka bicycle charity in November. They announced their final roster on Tuesday, signing Rob Power and Bert-Jan Lindeman as the last riders and leaving Thomson out of a contract.

The South African expressed his thanks for his time in the peloton on social media, saying he is "truly grateful for everything it's given me."

Thomson raced in the elite ranks in his home country before turning professional in 2007 with Konica Minolta, where he was teammates with Chris Froome. While Froome split off to Barloworld and a direct path to Sky and Tour de France victories, Thomson moved to the nascent MTN Energade squad, the first pro team launched by Doug Ryder.

Thomson enjoyed ample success in that first year, winning the African time trial championship and Tour of Egypt, but left the team after two seasons to race in North America with the ambitious Fly V Australia outfit.

However, that team's dream of making the Pro Continental ranks fizzled when financing fell through. He moved to the Bissell and then UnitedHealthcare squads before returning home when Ryder launched his own, more successful attempt at bringing the MTN team to the big leagues.

Thomson signed with MTN-Qhubeka in its first year as Pro Continental, winning the South African road title, and stayed through the next eight years as it grew into Dimension Data, then NTT, racing mainly as a support rider.

"When I started to write this I just wanted to say a few words and not make a big thing out of it. So with that I wanted to say that 2020 was the last year of my cycling career," Thomson wrote.

"I've enjoyed the ups and downs (maybe to many of those) of the sport for the last 16yrs.

"I'm truly grateful for everything it's given me. I don't know what 2021 has in store for me yet but I know I'll approach the life after cycling the same way I did my career, with everything I got."

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