It was always going to be a tall ask for South Africa’s most successful team in 2013, Team Abantu to secure victory in the season finales Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge. Already a ‘small’ outfit with just six contracted professionals, Team Abantu took to the line Sunday with a depleted squad of just four riders having lost key men Reynard Butler and David Maree to injuries sustained in dramatic crashes in the two events prior to the race.
However the small big team didn’t go down with out a fight as for most of the second part of the 94.7 kilometres, super domestiques Myles van Musschenbroek and James Perry were seen slaving away at the front of the race as they tried to contain the endless attacks from the numerically strong Team Bonitas outfit. Perry rode out of his skin and almost single handedly managed to reel in the break away which was away for the most part of the race containing Jayde Julius (Bonitas) & Dawit Araya (MTN-Qhubeka Feeder)
The lead duo were caught with 15km to go as the attacks continued to come from Bonitas and MTN-Qhubeka Feeder. Having ridden themselves into the ground Hoffman lost the services of his two workhorses on the final climb before the drag up to the finish as JC Nel (MTN-Qhubeka feeder) & Willie Smit (Bonitas) went clear. Over the top Hoffman took it upon himself to chase down the duo with the hope of some help from the other teams which were not up front but having won sixteen races this season Hoffman had no ‘friends’ in the peloton and had to go it alone.
Instead of sitting on and racing for 3rd he went all out to try and chase down the leaders which cost him a podium finish and had to settle for 8th. Smit went on to claim his biggest win of his career in a time of 2hrs08min ahead of Herman Fouche and Johan Rabie.
“A bit disappointed as James and Myles rode incredible to get me to 90km with a chance of winning. We were one man short today and really needed David or Rey” said a frustrated Hoffman who was not shy to express his dissatisfaction at the other teams who would not assist with the chase in the closing kilometres.
Team Principal Dean Edwards said before the race that not winning the season finale would be anti climatic but retracted his statement after the fight his four man team put up.
“Sure it would of been the perfect ending to a perfect season but the way James and Myles rode on the front for the final 40km today was incredible. Nolan could of cut his losses and ridden for 3rd but we have set a high standard for ourselves which is win or nothing. He races to win and I think he proved that today.”
“The numbers definitely got the better of us today on top of having no ‘friends’ in the peloton. Thats racing and one has to roll with the punches. We have to look back and see what we have achieved with so little, its just an incredibly story” said Edwards
Hoffman’s full attention now shifts to the track in the offseason. He departs for Mexico City next week for an International GP and then heads to the 2nd round of the UCI Track World Cup Classics which will be held in Aguascalientes from the 5-7 December.
PHOTO CAPTION: Myles van Musschenbroek & James Perry left everything out on the course to try and set it up for their team leader Nolan Hoffman.
CREDIT: Zoon Cronje (www.zooncronje.com)