Nolan Hoffman outmanoeuvred his fellow fastmen to sprint to a record-equalling fourth victory at The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
Despite the rain-drenched conditions, the country’s top pro teams gave the crowds who braved the chilly weather a thrilling conclusion to the 30th edition of the 106km Classic.
Hoffman (Abantu) timed his kick to perfection to pip Herman Fouché (Bonitas) to the post and take the win in a time of 2:40:57. Fouché followed a second later with Evan Carstens (Giant) third in the same time.
There was also excitement in the women’s race as track sprinter Maroesjke Matthee (Bestmed-Multihull-ASG) beat 13-time winner and local favourite Anriette Schoeman (Africa Silks-Bestmed) in 3:00:13, with Yolande de Villiers (SasolRacing) a further second back.
De Villiers and fellow mountain biker Gert Heyns (Scott Factory Racing), who won their respective categories in Saturday’s 80km Extreme at Addo, did enough in the road race to earn the Ultimate Quest titles.
Local pairing Luthando Fatyi and Thembile Nxele was the first tandem home in 2:53:17. They were followed by father-and-son combination Jan and Jan-Hendrik Havenga in 3:04:25, with the mixed pair of Cindy-Lee Augustyn and Bernard Playdon third in 3:04:40.
The feature race got off to a cautious start as the peloton got to grips with the slippery road surfaces.
A group of nine riders went up the road early on, with PE-born Kellan Gouveris (Abantu) taking the sprint prime on Buffelsfontein Road.
The leaders extended the gap to over a minute on the Old Seaview and Lake Farm roads with the chasing bunch eventually reeling them in by the 30km mark.
Amid a flurry of attacks, Heyns powered his way to a second king of the mountains title in as many days on top of the Maitlands ascent.
The final selection of five formed after 80km of racing with all the major contenders – Hoffman, Carstens, Stefan Ihlenfeldt (Lights by Linea), Fouché and teammate Luthando Kaka – present.
They put the hammer down in the closing kilometres, with Kaka pulling for Fouché as they entered the home straight.
“Herman went a bit early in the sprint but my track form has been really good so I had the speed to get back onto him and was able to pass him quite comfortably,” said Hoffman.
“I’m very happy to have pulled off a good result for the team again. Ultimately, it’s a team effort and it’s a pity I take the glory alone.”
Hoffman said going up against a record always put extra pressure on a rider.
“This time around I had good condition and I told myself not to think about that and to concentrate on winning the race.”
Matthee said the women’s race had played out in similar fashion in the treacherous conditions.
“Coming from a track background, I felt confident for the sprint. I felt there was a headwind and Anriette went early, so I just sat on her wheel.
“With 50m to go, I kicked and got the win.”
Nolan Hoffman celebrating his win at The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
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