5 April 2012
South African sprint sensation Nolan Hoffman delivered the performance of his life to clinch a silver medal in the 15km scratch race at the 2012 UCI Track World Champs in Melbourne, Australia on Wednesday.
With a star-studded 21-man field consisting of the world’s best riders, the race was destined to be a hard one with no quarter asked or given. The 26-year-old from Franschhoek, who currently resides in Johannesburg, rode a well-controlled race and pulled out something extra at the end to close down the gap on an escaping group.
Austrian Andreas Muller made a break with with six laps of the 60 remaining to open up a-third-of-a-lap lead. Czech rider Martin Blaha, Italian Elia Viviani and Briton Ben Swift chased down Mueller to catch him with less than two laps left before the British rider kicked to open a lead in the final back straight.
Talent and class
Hoffman, around 10 lengths behind Swift at the bell lap, showed his immense talent and undoubted class when he turned the burners on the second last corner to pass five riders.
Around the last bend, it was clear that a podium finish was within reach for the South African. He put in an almighty effort to try and catch Swift, but it was not to be. Nonetheless, Hoffman’s enormous final lunge saw him miss out on the gold medal by a mere half a wheel. He was ecstatic to cross the line in second place.
Swift’s win was the first British gold medal for the event since it was introduced at the 2002 World Championships, while it was South Africa’s first medal in the men’s scratch event.
‘Tried to play it cool’
“I knew somebody was going to attack in the finish, and just tried to play it cool and make other people chase. It’s definitely the hardest I’ve ever had to work for a track cycling race,” the aptly named Swift said afterwards.
Hoffman believed it was a breakthrough performance at his first elite World Championships. “I’ve been to all the World Cups and I’ve struggled a bit and I always thought the World Champs is going to be hard,” he said with some surprise.
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material