A capacity crowd is once again expected to turn out for South Africa’s iconic track cycling event, the Paarl Boxing Day spectacular, at the Faure Street Stadium in Paarl on December 26.
The traditional festival of cycling, which dates back to 1897, is one of the longest-running cycling events worldwide and draws between 3 000 and 5 000 spectators each year.
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According to organiser André Abrahams, not even World War II could derail this much-anticipated gala.
“It brings alive the rich culture and heritage attached to track cycling, and awakens in so many folk the joys and triumphs of the winners in past years in the Western Cape.
“In the past 45 years, I can say that I have only missed three Paarl Boxing Day events.”
Abrahams said South Africa’s top track stars would do battle for the R100 000 prize purse, which is sponsored by Alpha Bodyworks.
Five-time champion and local boy made good Nolan Hoffman said he fell in love with the historic event the first time he went to watch it in his youth.
“I’ve been to very few events where you actually feel like a professional cyclist, but at this place you are an absolute hero. I don’t think I’ve missed one of these since I started riding.
“It’s great because the locals get to see me riding as well, and I’m a bit of a favourite with them there so there’s some pressure now,” he laughed.
“It’s one day where Paarl is cycling crazy. You only really get crowds in the biggest track events overseas, so to get it at home – what a pleasure.”
Hoffman said the event, which counted the 25-miler among its many highlights, perfectly captured the electricity of track cycling.
“I’m actually getting goose bumps talking about it, its that good. It’s amazing.”