NOLAN Hoffman outsprinted a small lead group in the finishing straight to claim his third victory in the 106km Classic at The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth yesterday.
Hoffman, riding in the colours of Team Abantu, crossed the line in 2 hours, 37 minutes, 41 seconds, just a split-second clear of Bonitas rider HB Kruger.
Kruger’s teammate Jayde Julius rounded out the podium in 2:37:44.
It was also a tight finish in the women’s race, as local favourite Anriette Schoeman (Africa SilksBestmed) claimed her 15th title, taking fellow Port Elizabeth pro Monique Gerber (Bestmed-NMMU) to the line in 3:10:48.
Candice Neethling (Velo Life), who won Saturday’s 80km Extreme mountain bike race at Addo, followed a second later to clinch the Ultimate Quest title (6:55:16) for the best aggregate time over the two feature events.
Men’s mountain bike winner James Reid finished the road race in 2:40:39 to take the men’s Ultimate Quest crown in 5:43:55.
Hoffman said the pro field had a nervous start, as they did not know what to expect from the revised route.
The peloton soon settled down and the first attacks started after 10km on Buffelsfontein Road, It was also won by Hoffman.
Working hard at the front, Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec) put in a strong effort to distance the front group up the Long Barn climb.
Abantu rider Oupa Maluleke and Bonitas’s Dylan Girdlestone gave chase, catching Evans along Old Seaview Road, and the three riders quickly put 30 seconds into the chasing bunch.
On the Lake Farm climb Maluleke was the first to drop off and the bunch finally reeled in the remaining two leaders after 30km. Then, turning onto Butterfield Road a seven-man breakaway formed after the bunch split in the strong sidewind just after the short uphill drag.
“I was in the front with my teammate David [Maree] and some really strong riders, so I just put my head down,” Hoffman said. “It worked and we immediately opened up a gap that quickly grew to over a minute.”
The small lead group – comprising Hoffman, Maree, Evans, Girdlestone, Kruger, Julius and Carl Pasio (Swift) – worked together to extend their advantage to more than two minutes by the 50km mark.
Then on the Maitlands hill halfway through the race, the Bonitas climbers attacked once more and Maree dropped off.
With Hoffman the only fast man in the final selection, his confidence grew as it came down to a sprint.
“I’m really happy to have pulled off the win. I was very active over Christmas, racing in Europe on the track – the six-day and World Cup events – so it looks like my form is holding up.”
In the women’s race, Schoeman said it was a tough day out in the windy conditions but that she was glad to add another title to her name.
Vickus Boshoff and Quintin Myburgh won the tandem event in 2:48:22. They were followed home by Jade Muller and Warren Dickson in 2:49:13, with Nicolaas Vreken and Chris Nel third in 2:55:53.
At the official prizegiving, Charlo resident Franco Mistrorigo, 62, drove away in the main lucky draw prize – a brand-new VW Polo 1.4 Trendline, valued at almost R170000.
For information visit www.heraldcycletour.co.za