Former World Track Championships silver medallist Nolan Hoffman has paid tribute to fellow track cycling ace Jeann├® Nell, who died tragically while competing in Bellville last week, writes Mark Etheridge.
Hoffman was en route to a competition in Colombia when he heard the news and had just completed the SA road championships event in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
Nell passed away after a horrific crash during the sprint finish of the Keirin event at the Bellville Velodrome.
“I was on the aeroplane to Colombia where the horrible accident happened,” Hoffman, pictured right, told Road to Rio 2016. “It was very sad to hear the news about Jeanne. I had the honour of going on a trip with him to Australia for a Grand Prix event and there he showed his talent amongst the best in the world.
“Jeanne was a really disciplined and hard working person that did everything thoroughly. I hope his family and girlfriend can find a little comfort in the way he left us. He left us doing something that he loves, and that is honourable.
“But it obviously won’t fill the absence he leaves behind. We will miss him. My sincere condolences to Nicky and the Nell family.”
Hoffman, originally from the village of Franschhoek in the Western Cape, went on to describe his experience at the SA road champs.
“Knowing how hard the circuit was, I didn’t really have much hope of competing for the title as climbing isn’t really my strong point. But considering the good form I currently have I thought i would give it a real go and see where I am at ahead of track worlds in two weeks. I had a perfect race and ended up in the winning break that went to the line. But then the wheels came off for me with about 4km to go as the hills were just too much for me after that distance because I was only preparing for track racing
“But I’m still pretty happy with the show and I hope next year they make a course suited for sprinters. Its been hilly routes for the past five years now.”