Jason Thomason Interview
In the next in our interview series, Rob got to know a bit more about the team’s road captain Jason Thomason. Jason joined the team at the start of the year after relocating from New Zealand to study. The oldest rider on the list, Jason gives an insight into several aspects of the team and his life of balancing University and riding.
So, who decides who is going to be the protected rider for the day? Who are you going to support?
So that decision will come from Lachie at interstate races as he is typically running the role of manager and directeur sportif. I guess as a tour progresses the situation of the race could play a part in the decision making, and as races evolve we always need to be adaptable.
What do you find the greatest difference between club level racing and now the NRS racing?
I guess there are two different aspects, physically, and technically.
First physically, I don’t believe the stress of a club race is any less of an equivalent length NRS stage, at the end of the day most of the time you’re going as hard as you can regardless. The difference in a club race is the field is much smaller, so you probably hold more of a constant power with less dramatic spikes. In an NRS race often it can be relatively easy sitting in a bunch of 140 riders, but when it does go down on a climb or crosswinds, it’s at a much higher maximal intensity often to just stay in contact.
Technically is where I believe the biggest gaps between the top and bottom half of the NRS riders are. You can be as strong as you like but if you’re riding crits, or starting climbs and crosswind sections 120 riders back because you can’t hold position, you’re going to have a rough day.
So what is like to deal with training and sponsor pressures?
Training pressure is part of the game, if things are going well, it’s a breeze. It’s just when things start going bad, like getting sick, not hitting numbers in a session, had a bad race, that things get a little more stressful mentally and it’s just a matter of going back to basics and trusting in the process you have.
In VDR we don’t have direct contact with sponsors, so there is no pressure there. Sponsors deal with Lachie, then Lachie deals with us. He’s fairly straight forward if we’re not meeting what’s required of us which I like.
When you are racing, how much is there team communication happening during the race?
It depends on the race and the situation. It’s challenging when the race is full gas to communicate with teammates, and probably an area in which we are looking to improve as a team. The most simple but challenging requirement for this to happen is everyone needs to be together in the bunch.
What sort of opportunities are there for most NRS riders to go to Europe? Is it a level where you can race in Europe?
It’s not something I’ve considered personally. The way I see it is if you’re good enough to be winning at NRS level, then look at Europe as the next stepping stone. If you’re only pack fill here, you’re not going to be competitive in European racing. At the same time, though there are still great experiences to be had, you don’t need to be winning to enjoy the experiences.
So what role does Lachie play?
Manager, travel agent, driver, mechanic, coach, chef, team dad, team mum, career advisor… the list goes on!
What would a heavy training week be? How many km’s and time on the bike?
As of the start of this season, I have started training myself. I like to judge my training of a factor called TSS (training stress score). It basically considers time and intensity and combines it. I find with university studies a big week could be around 800-1000TSS which would translate to 16-18hrs with four effort sessions, and maybe two easier days.
When you are doing heavy training on the bike, how much time do you spend doing other things like stretching?
Really for me, it’s 100% dependent on what else is happening in life regarding university, etc. While on university break, it is a lot easier to finish a ride and spend 20mins stretching and on the foam roller than it is when you have assignments to do and classes to attend. I try and get in and see Nick at the Recovery room whenever I can to give my recovery a kick and make sure my body is working as it should.
Do you race local Club races together as a team to work out tactics for the NRS races?
Not really. The SA club racing scene this year often can have from 10 – 30 riders in A grade. When there are only ten riders, and we have 4, it’s not the done thing to race as a team. It would be nice to have 30+ riders every week, so we could tune in as a team.
Who do you think are the strongest riders in the peloton?
Having moved over from New Zealand, I’m only just starting to learn the SA riders, let alone everyone else. There is a top echelon of riders that appear in the top twenty of every race. Any of the Isowhey riders are always capable of winning, often there’s a front group of ten, and they have five, so they are the benchmark in Australia.
No one forgets their first bike or their first race. For many of us, it’s the very moment we discover our passion for cycling. What was your first bike and race?
My first road bike was a lower level alloy BMC. It was painted in a team Phonak replica colours as ridden by guys like Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton.
My First race was a 52km handicap race in Stratford, New Zealand. Started off 4th break, dropped my group 10kms in because that’s a good thing to do in handicap.. but got caught and shelled 30kms later!
We’re half way through the race season and with exams later in the year what drives you to succeed on and off the bike?
On the bike, I have some goals I wish to achieve over the next couple of years while I finish university. I’ve had some things go wrong in the past, and I’m just looking to give it a proper nudge to see what I can achieve. I actually enjoy university (well compared to working full time..), so it makes it pretty easy to get the work done.
You’re a good example to other young cyclists looking to joining the elite ranks combining studies and racing. We look forward to following you on your journey.