|Cyclists and spectators came out in their droves to support Port Elizabeth’s best local cyclists who competed against South Africa’s top pro teams at the 29th annual The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, 2 February 2014.Team Abantu’s Nolan Hoffman outsprinted a small lead group in the finishing straight to claim his third victory in the 106km Classic. Hoffman crossed the line in 2:37:41 ahead of rival team Bonitas whose HB Kruger and Jayde Julius followed on Hoffman’s wheel at 2:37:42 and 2:37:44 respectively.
A nervous Hoffman said the pro teams didn’t know what to expect from the revised route. However, once they had settled in and the first attacks started, Hoffman claimed the 10km hot spot on Buffelfontein Road.
A solid solo effort from Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec) distanced the front group up the Long Barn climb. Team Abantu’s new signing Oupa Maluleke and Dylan Girdlestone from Bonitas gave chase and the three riders put 30 seconds into the leading bunch along Old Seaview Road.
Maluleke was the first to drop off and then a Abantu led peloton caught the remaining two leaders after 30km. On Butterfield Road, a seven-man splinter group formed after the bunch separated in the strong sidewind just after the short uphill drag.
Hoffman and his team-mate David (Maree) forced the pressure amongst the other strong riders. Hoffman and his breakaway compatriots kept his head down and opened up a gap that grew to over a minute. The front-runners – consisting of Hoffman, Maree, Evans, Girdlestone, Kruger, Julius and Carl Pasio (Swift) – worked collectively to strengthen their advantage to over two minutes at the 50km mark. The Bonitas climbers attacked at the halfway point on the Maitlands hill, and Maree dropped off after putting in the majority of the groundwork alongside Evans and Passio.
In the end it came down to a sprint in the closing stretch as the continuous attacks from Team Bonitas were closely marked by Evans and Passio to the advantage of Hoffman and as the only fast man in the final selection, Hoffman’s confidence grew.
“I’m happy to have pulled off the win. I actively trained over the Christmas period, racing in Europe on the track – the six-day and World Cup events – and my form appears to be holding up.”
Hoffamn’s focus is now on the UCI Track World Championships which takes place from 26th of February to the 2nd of March in the Cali Velodrome, Cali, Colombia. He will then return to South Africa to compete in the Bestmed Tour de Boland and Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour in March.
Team Abantu’s James Perry finished 7th while Reynard Butler ended up 10th. Next up for The People’s Team is the South African Road championships which will take place in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal from 4-9 February 2014.
Team Abantu is calling on spectators and corporates to pledge their support and help #keepourwheelsturning. Visit www.teamabantu.com for more information, or follow The People’s Team on Twitter: @TeamAbantu