09 Mar 2015 Cape Town Cycle Tour wrap
Nolan Hoffman (Team Abantu) defended his Cape Town Cycle Tour title in superb fashion on Sunday, 08 March, as he raced over the finish line in a sensational time of 01:01:49 in this year’s 47km ‘Show You Care Solidarity Ride.’
Thousands of riders dressed in red to support those affected by the tragic fires burning on the mountains around Cape Town over the past week. The shortened circular route was a celebration of Cape Town’s fighting spirit and a salute to the Volunteer Wildfire Services, Sanparks Fire Fighting initiatives, medical and traffic personnel and other volunteers for their heroic efforts.
Crossing the line in an intense sprint, Hoffman held off stiff competition from Tyler Day (Team Westvaal) and third placed Brenton Jones (Team Drapac). International professional cyclists, Team Etixx-Quick Step’s Mark Cavendish and main lead-out man, Mark Renshaw, competing in their first South African race, could not outsprint Hoffman.
Clocking speeds up to 74km/h, the leading peloton raced down the M3 in good weather conditions. With 10km to go, Team Biogen’s Kevin Evans went on the attack, establishing an eight second lead ahead of the elite men’s peloton. The field caught him with 5km to go, allowing Hoffman the chance to break away at the end and cross the line first.
Ecstatic to hold off competition from top international and local riders to secure his second consecutive Cycle Tour win, Hoffman praised his “flawless” team. “The week before the race we dissected every kilometre from Hospital Bend so that we were well prepared. Today we bide our time and stayed close to the front throughout the entire route,” he said.
“It was only 47km, but it was the hardest 47km ever. There was no place to recover, and before I knew it, there was another hill. The downhills were fast, and I was really concerned about Hospital Bend because I knew it was going to make for a really fast finish. I’m proud of the way the guys rode today – they stuck to the tactics and executed it to perfection. My teammates were fantastic.”
Commenting on the Cavendish threat, Hoffman said, “He didn’t come here with a full team, which definitely worked in our favour. With 500m to go, I just put my head down and went as fast as I could. I am over the moon with my win today.”
The elite ladies raced in their own start group for the first time this year, and Lynette Burger (Team Activate Demacon), who gave birth nine months ago, took top honours in a time of 01:17:52.
Last year’s winner, Cherise Stander (Team RECM) raced ahead of third place, Maroesjka Matthee (Team Bestmed ASG) to claim the silver medal in her 16th Cape Town Cycle Tour.
While the pros raced for top honours, the more casual Cape Town Cycle Tour riders came out in support of those affected by last week’s devastating fires and the men and women who battled them. Many of the close-on 34 000 riders (one of the largest start fields ever) who lined up for the world’s largest timed cycling event’s Solidarity Ride dressed in red, and at times large stretches of the Blue Route resembled a red sea of cyclists. Many riders wore red socks and painted their nails red. Some decorated their bikes in red tassles and some wore plastic firefighter hats with the words “thank you” written across them on top of their cycling helmets.
“When we got to the end of the Blue Route I looked to the right and saw the charred Silvermine Reserve – that’s when the enormity of the fire really hit home,” said Gus.
Supporters rang bells, blew vuvuzellas and chanted “go, go, go – you can do it” on the side of the road. Many of the supporters were also dressed in red. One banner hoisted by two young women read: “We love firemen.”
One rider said he got a bit tearful when he rode past the entrance to Newlands Forest and witnessed a group of dancing and clapping members of the Volunteer Wildfire Services. “They were thanking us for riding in support of them – after the triple shifts and the danger they faced fighting fires, they came out to thank us… I couldn’t believe it. It was a very special moment.”
One of the cyclists got off his bike and shook the hand of every single firefighter before getting back on his bike to complete the ride. Another cyclist also dismounted and bowed in their honour.
The cyclists were in awe of the firefighters, but the feeling was mutual. Richard Stubbs, one of the volunteer firefighters at Newlands Forest, said he was overwhelmed by the support – from the cyclists and from the public.
A large cheer went up when a group of riding firefighters crossed the finish line. “We owe you a debt of gratitude,” said the announcer. After their ride, four cyclists from Norway changed from cycling kit into running gear, then ran up and down Lion’s Head and on to Table Mountain. “We are doing this to honour all the firefighters and volunteers,” said one of the riders, Lars Bakke.
As usual, many cyclists rode to raise money for charity with many dressing up in fancy dress. There was a superwoman, a zebra, a cow, a bear, a rhino and several angels.
Despite the shortened distance, the 47km ride wasn’t exactly a breeze, with some backmarkers pushing their bikes up Edinburgh Drive.
“There was a fair bit of climbing and as we left town soon after the start I got a face full of South Easter,” said Mandy, who was participating in her fourth Cycle Tour. At the finish line, many cyclists commented on how much they enjoyed the shortened route.
From start to finish, the atmosphere at the Show You Care Solidarity Ride was magical, with riders exchanging smiles, hugs and high fives at the end. “What an amazing event,” said Lisa on the finish line. “It was fantastic – and not just because I did a super fast time. One day I’ll tell my grandchildren that I did a two-hour Cycle Tour. I’ll be the world’s coolest granny.”
David Bellairs, a Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, said: “The Cape Town Cycle Tour 2015 will go down in the annals of history as the sporting event that united us as a community to selflessly recognise the efforts and suffering of others. Once again – to the entire team at the Cycle Tour, the residents of Cape Town and all other spectators and participants – we thank you.”
Elite Men 1st: Nolan Hoffman (Team Abantu) (01:01:49)
Elite Men 2nd: Tyler Day (Team Westvaal) (01:01:49)
Elite Men 3rd: Brenton Jones (Team Drapac) (01:01:49)
Elite Men 4th: Mark Renshaw (Team Etixx-Quick Step) (01:01:49)
Elite Men 5th: Nino Schurter (Team Scott Sports) (01:01:50)
Elite Ladies 1st: Lynette Burger (Team Activate Demacon) (01:17:52)
Elite Ladies 2nd: Cherise Stander (Team RECM) (01:17:52)
Elite Ladies 3rd: Maroesjka Matthee (Team BestMed ASG) (01:17:52)
Elite Ladies 4th: Lise Olivier (01:17:53)
Elite Ladies 5th: Yolandi du Toit (01:17:53)