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Hoffman on a high
- Updated: April 24, 2012
One of South African cycling’s hottest properties Nolan Hoffman turned 27 this week but he had lots else on his mind ÔÇô┬áthe total domination of the track and road events in KwaZulu-Natal this weekend, and he has the backing of his potent pro team to count on.
The Team Tasol GT star, who scooped a silver medal in the scratch event at the track world champs in Melbourne earlier this month has set his sights on winning six titles at the SA Track championships that form part of the All Africa Challenge in Pietermaritzburg, in the midst of which he and his teammates plan to control the aQuell├® Tour Durban presented by Spur to enable the popular rider to retain the title he won last year.
Despite what seems like an onerous six days of tough competition, Hoffman is oozing confidence, saying that the two events dovetail well to mutually support each other. “It will definitely help me,” said Hoffman emphatically. “In the past when I have come off some track competitions and come off the boards I have been a bit quicker than the other sprinters on the road.”
“As a team we set the bar pretty high for ourselves,” he added. “For me personally if I have done something before then I know I can do it again. The form is there, the support is there and the team is in good spirits, so we genuinely feel it is do-able.”
Hoffman and his Tasol GT team will be a formidable force at the SA track champs that starts at the Pietermaritzburg velodrome on Wednesday, running until Monday as part of the triangular All Africa Challenge festival that includes MTB racing and BMX at the neighbouring Alexandra Park track.
Hoffman also brings a huge psychological advantage into the tough weekend’s racing after his celebrated efforts at the world champs in Australia. “It is groundbreaking for me,” said Hoffman. “Mentally it gives me such a big boost. I raced and performed against the best in the world. There is no doubting my ability any more and going forward sprinting will be just a little bit easier.”
Hoffman will be counting on his nine-strong team to get him into pole position for the endsprint at the rejigged finish outside the Moses Mabhida stadium on Sunday, which now no longer consists of two sharp turns into the stadium, but instead finishes in the freeway outside the stadium.
He makes no bones about his passion for the aQuell├® Tour Durban, which he won last year┬áon his seventh attempt. “It’s a personal favourite ÔÇô I love this race ÔÇô and the support from the people in Durban is huge, so I want to please my supporters. I would really love to win this one again.”
The team also has the class of David Maree waiting in the wings, hopefully well positioned to challenge in the endsprint as well.
Team manager Dean Edwards is carefully marshalling his troops to ensure that he gets the most out of them over the six days of racing, holding some of the team riders back to ensure they have fresh legs to support Hoffman, particularly up the tough climbs where opposition teams will be unashamedly looking to shrug him off the front bunch.
Edwards himself won the race in 2011, setting the team up for a hat-trick of wins should Hoffman manage to defend his title on Sunday.
While virtually all the top teams have been confirmed for the 106km road race, the MTN Qubeka team, won’t make the muster as they are campaigning abroad.