Nolan Hoffman received the perfect birthday present when he won the Emperors Palace Classic road cycle title for the first time in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, today.
Having turned 32, the BCX sprinter was delighted with his triumph after victory at the 98km feature race had eluded him for several years.
He crossed the line in 2:09:02 to see off Genasys Technologies’ Ryan Harris (2:09:02) and Cycling Box’s Tyler Day (2:09:03) in a tight finish.
After winning the elimination and madison titles at the SA National Track Championships earlier this month, Hoffman said he was fired up to do something special on his birthday.
“It was definitely one of my goals for the year because I have ended in almost every position except first in this race,” said the BCX star, who grew up in Franschhoek but now lives in Ruimsig in Johannesburg.
As he had expected, Hoffman said the race was really fast from the start.
“There was never a gap of more than 10 seconds and we had no real interest in trying to get up the road. Our plan was to keep the group together and ride for the sprint finish.
“It was well executed and it was great to pay the team back with the win.”
Even though the race went according to plan, Hoffman said one could never be sure of how it would unfold in the closing stages in a big bunch finish.
“There was a late scare when Rohan du Plooy got about seven or eight seconds up the road, but we caught him with about a kilometre to do.
“Reynard Butler then led the sprint out for me and I opened up with about 200m to go. From there it was just a case of head down.”
Hoffman said the Emperors victory made up for the disappointment of the Cape Town Cycle Tour which was called off last month soon after the start because of high winds.
The women’s race also produced a first-time winner when Kim le Court (Demacon) shaded Samantha Sanders (Cycle Nation) in a sprint finish.
Both were credited with a time of 2:33:36, while Sanders’ teammate Joanna van de Winkel took third in 2:35:35.
Le Court went into the race without expectations after feeling off-colour recently, but managed to hang on to the wheel of Sanders when she went on the attack early on.
“We got away from the rest and I was not feeling too confident but with about 400m to go I managed to get a gap and was able to hang on to that lead.”
Andreas Trafoyer won the men’s section in the 48km support race in 1:17:01. Shibhana Sibanyoni (1:17:04) and Herman Meyer (1:17:10) were close behind in second and third respectively.
The women’s event went to Elizabeth Burger, who crossed the line in 1:18:14, with Carin Janssen (1:19:23) and Lisa Venter (1:23:34) completing the podium.
On Saturday, Wessel Botha took a fine solo victory in the 50km mountain bike race. He clocked a time of 1:32:28 and was followed home by Mthetheli Boya (1:34:20) and Luthanda Kaka (1:34:21).
Chloe Gardner won the women’s race in 1:50:54, followed by Jana Jonker (1:52:58) and Sarah Hall (1:54:32).
The 25km men’s race went to Aaron Heyneke in 55:13, with John Lang (55:15) second and Muhammed Theba (57:54) third.
Women’s honours went to Hanje Nel in 1:04:44, followed by Nadine Stoltz (1:05:07) and Bianca Keyser (1:07:35).