It was mission accomplished for Team Telkom’s Nolan Hoffman as he took the honours in an exciting sprint finish in the Bestmed Cycle4Cansa Road Classic at Sun City today.
The 31-year-old professional from the West Rand in Johannesburg timed his finishing burst perfectly with about 80m to go to edge out Team Luso’s Calvin Beneke and RoadCover’s Bradley Potgieter in 2:18:13.
In what the former Franschhoek resident described as a dream scenario, a small breakaway formed in the early stages of the 103km feature race in which all the pro teams were represented.
“The racing in the first 10km was pretty aggressive and the breakaway group formed about five kilometres later,” said Hoffman.
“HB Kruger and I were there for Telkom and as I was the fastest out of the group it made sense for us to drive it.
“Within about 10km the gap went out to three minutes and then to seven. Once we got that lead the guys in the big group behind sort of gave up.”
Hoffman said he knew he had to time his sprint perfectly coming into the finish.
“HB was pulling for me and I knew I had to wait to take the sprint as late as possible.
“I think Bradley got a bit nervous and he jumped first with about 250 metres to go. It was into a headwind and if you have been in a breakaway the whole race you will blow up if don’t time it correctly.
“I got on to his wheel and with about 80 metres to go I jumped past him to take the win.”
The former Cape Town Cycle Tour champion said he was “really happy” with the outcome, not having had much success in the Sun City race in recent years.
“It’s one of my favourite races and to get a win here is fantastic.
“It puts the confidence up and I’m so happy for the team. The boys rode perfectly and it’s always nice to reward them with a win.”
Hoffman said with the Bestmed Cycle4Cansa Road Classic falling at the back-end of winter and therefore affecting training, it was often a nervous race. He also got married this year which, he said, meant he spent some time off the bike.
“I’m pleasantly surprised with my fitness and this race was one of my goals for the year. It suits the sprinters outright and you have to take advantage when you get these sorts of conditions.
“I have worked quite hard during the winter and signs are there that the work is paying off.”
Charlene du Preez of Team Clover Prestigio sprinted to victory in the women’s race.
The 28-year-old from Pretoria East crossed the line in 2:46:24 to finish ahead of Time Freight’s Kim le Court, who won the 50km MTB Classic on Saturday, and Pretoria Box’s Michelle Benson.
“I was very happy with the win,” said Du Preez. “The race was quite flat so that made it difficult for anyone to get away.
“There were a few attacks but with the bunch being bigger than normal it was easier to close down the gaps.
Du Preez said there were several accelerations in the last two kilometres and it was matter of keeping in touch and trying to save the legs for the final sprint.
“That worked out well for me.”
Alex Pavlov of NorthCliff Cycles, who will be competing in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Perth, Australia, in early September, won the men’s section of Saturday’s 50km MTB Classic.
“This is a race I really like because it suits the roadies and I’ve got a road background,” he said after posting a time of 1:45:10.
“I have been training quite hard for the world championships and I had good form going into the race. I felt good today.”