Team Neotel’s star sprinter, Nolan Hoffman, captured victory at the AGA Cycle Classic in Orkney in North West Province on Sunday and reignited the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series, moving to within 10 points of the lead with two races remaining.
It was a race Hoffman had to win, both in terms of giving his Neotel team a confidence boost after a victory drought over the past few months, but also because Alpha Pharm Seeding Series leader, Arran Brown (Medscheme) was absent from the event as he was racing at the African Championships in Namibia.
ÔÇ£I’m very happy to win again. It’s been a while! It’s a double success in that it also took me back into contention for the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series title,ÔÇØ said Hoffman.
It was Hoffman’s third win in the 13-race series, having captured two wins in February to shoot him into an early lead, which came in handy, as he was forced to miss a few rounds of the Series due to racing commitments in Asia and Europe.
With some of the country’s top riders representing South Africa in Nambia and others, the field at the AGA Classic lacked depth, but that didn’t affect the intensity of the racing.
With moderate, but relentless spring winds greeting the field, the Neotel, House of Paint and MTN Energade teams set out to split the field up quickly. After a series of attacks and some tactical ‘gutter riding’, a group of 10 moved clear, containing all the pre-race favourites, including Juan van Heerden (MTN Energade), Dean Edwards (House of Paint) and Hoffman.
With 15km remaining, the lead group split further with Van Heerden, Hoffman, Edwards, David Maree (Neotel) and Dusty Day (Team Matlosana) moving clear. Then with 8km to go, Van Heerden attacked with only Hoffman managing to join him.
ÔÇ£I knew it would be a tough finish because Juan is a quick sprinter. But he started his sprint a bit early which gave me enough space to move around him with my final kick,ÔÇØ smiled a satisfied Hoffman, who clocked 2hr 19min 25sec.
Van Heerden collected the runner-up spot with Day edging ahead of Edwards and Maree to secure the final podium place.
In the women’s race, Robyn de Groot grabbed her second victory in successive weekends to give her Nashua Telecoms team a further boost ahead of next Sunday’s Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge, the penultimate round of the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series.
Like the Elite men’s event, the women’s race was also a little short on depth with some of the country’s top riders competing at the African championships in Namibia. But the two riders in contention for the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series title, Anriette Shoeman (Nashua Telecoms) and Jennie Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm) were present and in full battle mode in their quest for vital points.
Like she did at the MTN OFM Classic last weekend, De Groot broke clear of the bunch and rode to a solo victory, clocking 2hr 31min 43sec. Schoeman collected second place with Stenerhag third. This kept Stenerhag in the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series leader’s jersey with Schoeman, reducing Stenerhag’s lead from 20 to 15 points, with two events remaining.
Round 12 of the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series is the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge in Johannesburg on Sunday, 15 November.
AGA Cycle Classic, 100km
1 Nolan Hoffman (Neotel) 2hr 19min 25sec
2 Juan Van Heerden (MTN Energade) same time
3 Dusty Day (Team Motlosana) 2:20:15
4 Dean Edwards (House of Paint)
5 David Maree (Neotel) both same time
6 Johann Rabie (Neotel)
7 Reynard Butler
8 JC Jooste
9 Egon Campbell 2:22:11
10 Jacques Greef same time
1 Robyn De Groot (Nashua Telecoms) 2hr 31min 43sec
2 Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms) 2:32:47
3 Jennie Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm)
4 Jade Roberts (Nashua Telecoms) all same time
5 Charlotte van der Merwe
6 Yolandi Du Toit (Konica Minolta) 2:32:56
7 Chantall Swanepoel 2:44:44
8 Anee Mitchley 2:52:20
9 Lizelle van Aardt same time
10 Valda Scheppel 2:55:56
Alpha Pharm Seeding Series
Leading rankings after 11 events:
1 Arran Brown (Medscheme) 250 points
2 Nolan Hoffman (Neotel) 240
3 Juan van Heerden (MTN Energade) 175
4 James Ball (House of Paint) 167
5 Christoff van Heerden (MTN Energade) 165
5 Johann Rabie (Neotel) 165
7 Jay Thomson (MTN Energade) 162
8 Malcolm Lange (Medscheme) 155
9 Dennis van Niekerk (Konica Minolta) 92
10 Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) 55
1 Jennie Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm) 390 points
2 Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms) 375
3 Ashleigh Moolman (Toyota Supercycling) 255
4 Marissa van der Merwe (MTN Energade) 225
5 Robyn de Groot (Nashua Telecoms) 195
6 Jade Roberts (Nashua Telecoms) 157
7 Yolandi du Toit (Konica Minolta) 130
8 Cherise Taylor (MTN Energade) 120
9 Lynette Burger (Toyota Supercycling) 105
10 Lizanne Naude (Toyota Supercycling) 55
Full Alpha Pharm Seeding Series points standings can be viewed at www.cycletour.co.za