Timing his sprint to perfection, Nolan Hoffman edged ahead of RoadCover rival Clint Hendricks to retain his Bestmed Cycle4Cansa Championship title at Sun City in the Pilanesberg today.
The BCX professional, who finished in a fast 2:23:21, took advantage of a cross-tailwind and excellent teamwork in the 103km feature race to hold off last year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour champion and RoadCover’s Ryan Harris in the gallop to the line.
The 32-year-old Hoffman said his third title in the 20th edition of the road classic in the North West Province was a boost for his confidence for the second half of the season.
“This is the first big one for the rest of the year and it’s always good to pull off a win when things are close,” said Hoffman, who lives on the West Rand. “The team rode a phenomenal race today and it’s very rewarding to give them a win. It’s a big relief and helps to settle the nerves for the forthcoming races.”
Hoffman, who learnt his trade in Franschhoek in the Western Cape where he grew up, said they had been pushed hard by RoadCover, who sent Hendricks and teammate Willie Smit up the road with about 40km to go.
“Although it was a bit of scare I still had David Maree and Wesley Eslick with me and, with help from the Rand Water guys, we put in a solid chase and caught them with about 20km left. “This neutralised the race again and that set it up for the sprint because in this race, from that distance, it is always going to end in a bunch finish.”
Hoffman said he went into the last kilometre with three teammates at his side and knew they were in a good position. “We got it right today because there was this tailwind from the side and I have done this so many times that I know that if you get it right it’s impossible to come off the wheel.”
He said a last-gasp attack by an in-form Brendon Davids (RoadCover) with one kilometre to go was the carrot they needed. “I was waiting for them to do a lead-out. My teammates had me well positioned on the lefthand side of the road and I made the jump with about 200 metres left.
“Being a big guy with a tailwind like this and going slightly downhill were perfect conditions and I was so glad I could deliver the win.” Hoffman, who won two stages at the recent Lowveld Tour in similar fashion, said he had to keep an eye on the dangerous Hendricks all the way to the finish.
“It was very close and Clint was my biggest concern. He tried to come through on my inside but there wasn’t really a gap so I was able to take the win.”
Demacon’s Carla Obeholzer, who is perhaps better known for her climbing ability, took the women’s title for the first time after winning the sprint from a lead group of seven. She came home in 2:47:21 to beat Cherise Willeit, who made her return to road racing after an absence of two years. Demacon’s Heidi Dalton, the reigning national champion, completed the podium.
Oberholzer, from Clarens in the Eastern Free State, said the final break developed about 40km from home. “Although there were four Demacon riders in the group, we could not form another breakaway and it came down to a sprint finish,” said the 30-year-old.
“We don’t have a specialist sprinter so it was everyone for herself,” she explained, admitting it felt good to finally tick off the victory after so many attempts. Henry Uys from Radiokop in Johannesburg outduelled defending champion Alex Pavlov to win Saturday’s 50km mountain bike race in 1:47:43.
“Alex and I managed to distance ourselves from the rest about 15 kilometres in and we worked hard from that point onwards,” said the 34-year-old. “At the start of the second lap, Alex went really hard up a climb and got a gap, but I just tried to consolidate because I knew I would have a chance of closing in on the descents.”
Uys, who won the Barberton Ultra Marathon in January, eventually neutralised the attack and launched one of his own on a short, steep climb about halfway through the second 25km lap. “I got ahead and then kept a nice high tempo until the end for my first win in this race,” he said.
Team Bestmed-ASG’s new signing, Kristin Louw, won the women’s race in 2:11:42.
Men 103km road race
1 Nolan Hoffman 2:23:21
2 Clint Hendricks 2:23:21
3 Ryan Harris 2:23:22
4 Maurice Moller 2:23:22
5 Thando Zothe 2:23:22
Men 70km road race
1 Johannes van der Walt 1:54:06
2 Marius Strauss 1:54:07
3 David Brewer 1:54:07
Men 50km mountain bike race
1 Henry Uys 1:47:43
2 Alex Pavlov 1:48:10
3 Andrew Westaway 1:54:00
4 Richard Damant 1:54:04
5 David Labuschagne 1:56:58
Men 25km mountain bike race
1 Sheldon Kukard 1:00:33
2 Antonie Lit 1:03:30
3 Johannes van der Walt 1:07:26
Women 103km road race
1 Carla Oberholzer 2:47:21
2 Cherise Willeit 2:47:22
3 Heidi Dalton 2:47:22
4 Lynette Burger 2:47:22
5 Samantha Sanders 2:47:22
Women 70km road race
1 Lisa Venter 1:54:08
2 Lona Liebenberg 1:54:51
3 Wilma Pienaar 1:54:51
Women 50km mountain bike race
1 Kristen Louw 2:11:42
2 Nicolene Marais 2:13:29
3 Sharon van den Heever 2:25:07
4 Annamarie Jacobsz 2:37:15
5 Tracey Andrews 2:46:01
Women 25km mountain bike race
1 Monique du Plessis 1:20:12
2 Mandie Botes 1:27:3
3 Bianca Keyser 1:29:07