The Team Telkom rider has the most 25-mile wins in this iconic track cycling festival which started in 1897, but was reluctant to label himself as the best rider to have competed in the race.
“I wouldn’t say I’m the best rider to have done the 25-miler but I have definitely fallen in love with the event,” the 31-year-old from Franschoek said. “It’s become one of those mystical races you have to conquer to complete the season.
“The festival has such a massive history and if you look at the names on the trophy you get an idea of what sort of prestige is attached to the winning the title.”
Hoffman said a nasty fall in the elimination race had been “a blessing in disguise in a messed up sort of way”.
“I had a badly bruised hand and I hurt my knee but if you can continue, the pain is irrelevant. I got myself cleaned up, took a pain killer and was fortunate to be able to continue.”
The defending champion said he realised he had to ride a much cleverer race due to his physical condition, adding that his experience of the event had pulled him through.
“I have learnt over the years what my limits are and I believe that if you are not careful, it can lead to reckless racing.
“My crash put me on the back foot and that made me more careful out there.
“I do better in crisis control when I am prone to make fewer mistakes and so it was a plus for me in a way.”
Having grown up in the region, Hoffman said the 25-miler had become something of obsession for him.
“It is definitely something I look forward to each year,” he said. “Boxing Day sport is what inspired me to become a track cyclist and that’s where I fell in love with the sport of cycling.
“For me a lot of emotion is attached the event and it’s one where a lot of non-traditional followers, who can’t get to all the races during the year, come to watch the cycling.”
Crowds of about 5 000 regularly attend the festival at the Faure Street Stadium in Paarl and Hoffman described their support as “fantastic”.
“The ambience of the race and competing in front of people who watched me grow up makes it very special. Their support takes the event to a whole new level.”