Track cycling ace Nolan Hoffman won the 15km scratch race in what he claimed was his closest race yet at the South African National Track Championships at the Bellville Velodrome in Cape Town yesterday.
After a close sprint against Bernard Esterhuizen, video footage revealed that Hoffman had indeed crossed the line first.
“For a few moments afterwards we weren’t sure who had won so I was over the moon when they called me as the winner,” said Hoffman.
The African omnium champion said finishes like these showed the level of the competition and that the races he won “did not come easily”.
“I’ve gone the full circle now – I used to be the young guy challenging the older riders, but now the youngsters are challenging me.
“It’s a beautiful thing to be able to be part of it all still.”
Going into the race, Hoffman said the high level of competition motivated him to ride in a higher gear than normal.
“I think yesterday was one of the fastest scratches that we’ve had at the national champs,” he said.
Jean Spies led out the sprint, but Hoffman and Esterhuizen managed to overhaul him in the charge to the line.
“Jean started the sprint very early but I managed to get onto his wheel, only to have Bernard speed past me with little under a lap to go.
“I knew I’d have to wait until the very last moment to overtake him if I wanted to win.”
The BCX rider said he had taken a gamble to wait until the very last moment before passing Esterhuizen.
“I think this is my sixth title for this event, so I am incredibly happy with the result,” said Hoffman.
Day four of the event saw a number of records being broken in the women’s categories.
Jessica Brown and Courtney Smith set a new national mark in the junior women’s team sprint, while Imaan Phillips, Mischka Strydom and Kelsey van Schoor broke the national record in the U17 girls’ team pursuit.