NOLAN HOFFMAN WINS THE CAPE ARGUS CYCLE TOUR
KZN-based riders took both the men’s and women’s Elite titles at the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Momentum Cycle Tour in Cape Town yesterday, Nolan Hoffman securing the men’s honours for the first time after a long wait of 10 years and three previous visits to the podium and Cherise Stander dominating the women’s race to claim her third title in seven years.
Only just back from Cali, Colombia where he finished fifth in the 15km scratch race at the UCI World Track Championships, Hoffman and his fellow team-mates in the professional Durban-based Team Abantu used last week’s Tour de Boland as a final preparation for yesterday’s mammoth 110km road race which saw 35 000 riders heading into strong south-easterly winds from first light around the Cape Peninsula.
Originally from Paarl in the Boland region Hoffman has been riding for Team Abantu since 2011 and won practically every elite road and track title in the country except for the Argus Cycle Tour and the year-ending 94.7 Cycle Challenge.
But his spectacular sprint at the end of yesterday’s race was immaculately timed as he swooped past the front riders in the lead bunch to open up a two-metre gap on second-placed Meron Teshome Hagos of Eritrea whose MTN Qhubeka feeder team had done most of the hard work in the latter stages of the race with with HB Kruger of Team Bonitas taking third place, the winning time given as 2hours 39minutes 31seconds.
The strong headwind encountered by the big pack of Elite riders prevented any major break from succeeding and even some of the world’s top mountain bikers already in the country preparing for the Absa Cape Epic were taking strain as the elastic snapped around the halfway mark and four riders managed to get away to build up a gap of about a minute.
Team Abantu riders then took control of the peloton in which Hoffman was securely ensconced, setting a constant speed up Chapman’s Peak and neutralising any other major breaks.
But as the attacks intensified Myles van Musschenbroek, Kellan Gouveris and Oupa Maluleke got dropped leaving James Perry, Reynard Butler and David Maree to shepherd Hoffman up the final climb over the notorious Suikerbossie.
A number of the Cape Epic contenders made their presence felt as they attacked on the final climb breaking up the peloton but Hoffman and his co-riders were always in touch with the leaders as the peloton reformed with around 30 riders.
All of the other team sprinters appeared to have missed the boat and as the lead riders approached the last 300m at Greenpoint Hoffman came off the wheel of MTB specialist Kevin Evans (Fedgroup), latched onto the MTN train and powered across the line just metres ahead of Meron.
“I’ve waited 10 long years for this,” said a breathless Hoffman.
“The team did an incredible job keeping me in the front up Chappies and out of trouble. We were not worried about the four-man break because we were always able to contain it at around a minute.
“Over Suikerbossie it was David Maree who put in the big effort and rode me across to the front group and when I got there and saw no other big-name sprinters my confidence just grew.
“I’m really over the moon with this win and I think I will only realise it when I read all about it in the newspapers!
Team manager Dean Edwards praised the commitment and work ethic of his entire team.
“It was all for Nolan today and the youngsters delivered. To see a young rider like Oupa Maluleke leading the peloton up Chapmans Peak with the team strung out behind him is so satisfying, as much so as the win itself. I want to take this opportunity to thank all our product sponsors for continuing to support us and to Tzoro IBC and Panda Sportswear for the financial contribution towards this team. This victory is for all of you” said Edwards