Nolan Hoffman held his composure in the final sprint to take the opening stage of the Takealot Tour of Good Hope cycle race, emulating his feat of a year ago.
South Africa’s premier road tour got under way in inclement weather near Paarl in the Cape Winelands, but the riders set a fast pace on the short 58.5km first stage.
The event has UCI 2.2 status for the first time this year, allowing riders to earn international ranking points. It has resulted in teams from France, the United Arab Emirates and Brunei contesting the race.
Riding for Team Enza after securing a sponsorship with Enza Construction, Hoffman edged his rivals in the final dash for the line, finishing in 1:18:18.
He was followed by Ryan Harris (TEG Procycling) and Graeme Ockhuis (All4Security). All three podium finishers were credited with the same time.
Hoffman said they knew the pace “would be hot from the start”.
“With about 3km to go, Gustav Basson from TEG Procycling attacked and my teammate Steven van Heerden had to chase really hard to bring him back,” said Hoffman, who will defend his Cape Town Cycle Tour title on Sunday.
“In the end, I was able to get my timing right, but it wasn’t easy because it drags up a bit in the last kilometre before a slight downhill towards the finish.
“I knew I had to get the sprint going just before the crest and I managed to get the perfect jump on Ryan. From there I knew I could do enough to take it.”
Earlier, Hoffman said they had taken the breakaway by Craig seriously, describing him as a dangerous competitor.
“We know that he is a strong guy and we couldn’t let him get too far up the road.”
He added that securing a sponsor had motivated the team to produce something special.
“It’s incredible to start like this and shows that we have done the hard work. And it could not have been better payback for Enza Construction and the faith they have shown in us.”
In the women’s race, defending champion Ariane Luthi sent out a signal to her rivals by winning the opening stage in 1:40:06, ahead of Liezel Jordaan and Catherine Colyn.