Hoffman retains his Durban title in hard-fought race

2012-04-30 00:00

DURBAN — The new crown prince of South African cycling Nolan Hoffman successfully defended his title in the 106 km Tour Durban yesterday when he won a needle-end sprint to shade the nuggety BMC team riders, before heading for Pietermaritzburg to continue his giant killing spree at the national track championships.

“This was the most brilliant team performance,” enthused Hoffman after the win. “The Tasol GT Team had a plan, and we executed it to perfection. The nine guys in the team all rode rockstar rides and got me into the right place for the sprint at the end. From there I just did what I had to do.”

The Tasol GT team’s plan to dominate the race from start to finish came under fire on the long climb up to Pinetown where the other teams realised they needed to try and drop Hoffman. As the race turned to the new descent through Westville, a four rider breakaway, which included title hopeful Johan Rabie (Bonitas), started to stress Hoffman.

“I panicked!” he said afterwards. “They had at least 50 seconds on us. I couldn’t see them. That’s when I started shouting to the team that we have to get back and take control.”

The team gradually reeled in the breakaway riders and started to dominate on the crucial homewards bound leg from the turn on the M4 coastal freeway where Tasol GT domestiques Myles van Musschoenbroek, Jean Spies and William Bush did the hard yards before Clint Hendricks and James Perry stepped up to the plate.

They fended of repeated attacks, particularly from the strong Bonitas team, to send their sprinters Hoffman and David Maree into plumb positions on the final turn into the home straight back towards the Moses Mabhida stadium.

“Richie Baxter pulled over and I shouted ‘Now Go!’ and it was incredible. David Maree pulled for 200 metres and the rest was actually quite simple for me. It was the perfect lead out and an incredible team performance.”

Hoffman’s win is his second back-to-back title in the race, and his team’s third following Dean Edwards win in 2010, making them the first team to win a hat trick of titles in this famous race.

Earlier in the race Hoffman’s team-mate David Maree won the King of the Mountain hotspot at the end of the long climb up to Pinetown, while Midvaal BMC team rider Dylan Girdlestone took the sprint hotspot at the 62 km mark.

Toyota Cyclelab’s Lynette Burger made a clean sweep of the women’s hotspot prizes, and completed her stranglehold on the race by winning the seven-rider strong end-sprint to claim the overall women’s title.

“We were all very aware of Nolan’s firepower,” said Girdlestone. “Coming off such good form on the track he was always going to be hard to beat. I guess he had a 100 km loosener on the track yesterday!”

Dusty Day, who won the criterium on Friday night, was also quick to heap praise on Hoffman.

“Nolan Hoffman’s form can sometimes be exposed on the hills, so that’s where we try to rub him off. But I have to say that doesn’t happen very often!”

Shortly after the prize giving, Hoffman was bundled into the team vehicle to return to Pietermaritzburg to contest the Team Pursuit and Points titles at the national track championships where his rampant form has already seen him clinch the national titles in the Omnium and Scratch track races.

The perfect Durban weather and the full road closure went down well with the massive field of 3 000 riders over the 106 km and 45 km rides, almost doubling the field from last year.

Results:

106 km road race

Elite Men

1.Nolan Hoffman 2:38:15

2.Herman Fouche 2:38:15

3.Dusty Day 2:38:15

4.AB Van der Walt 2:38:15

5.Bradley Stroberg 2:38:15

Elite Women

1.Lynette Burger 3:09:45

2.Cashandra Slingerland 3:09:46

3.Leandri Du Toit 3:09:46

4.Andri Coetzee 3:09:47

5.Heidi Dalton 3:09:48

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