Nolan Hoffman celebrated his birthday in the best possible way by winning the Emperors Palace Classic road cycle title for the first time in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, today. The BCX sprinter, who turned 32 today, said he had received the perfect present after several years of trying to nail down the title in the 98km feature race. He came home in a time of 2:09:02 to see off Genasys Technologies' Ryan Harris (2:09:02) and Cycling Box's Tyler Day (2:09:03) in the gallop to the line. Hoffman, who won the elimination and madison titles at the SA National Track Championships earlier this month, said the special occasion had give him extra motivation and he praised his team for their support in the fast-paced race. "It was definitely one of my goals for the year because I have often raced here but the win has always eluded me," said the BCX star, who grew up in Franschhoek but now lives in Ruimsig in Johannesburg. "I think I have ended in almost every position except first, so this was the best birthday present for me." As he had expected, Hoffman said the race was really fast from the start and he knew it was unlikely that there would be any significant breaks out on the course. "There was never a gap of more than 10 seconds - that's how aggressive and fast it was," he said. "As a team we had no real interest in trying to get up the road and our plan was to keep the group together and ride for the sprint finish. "It was well executed by the boys. I'm proud of what they achieved and it was great to pay them back with the win." Even though the race went according to plan, Hoffman said one could never be sure of how it would unfold in the closing stages in a big bunch finish. "There was a late scare when Rohan du Plooy got about seven or eight seconds up the road, but we caught him with about a kilometre to do. "Reynard Butler then led the sprint out for me and I opened up with about 200m to go. From there it was just a case of head . . .
South Africa's oldest ocean sailing race - the Vasco Da Gama will see the third and last (for now) running of the race from Durban to Port Elizabeth start on Thursday 27 April in Durban at midday. The straight line distance for this 46th edition of the race is 400 nautical miles (740 kilometres), which can increase somewhat if the wind is against the yachts sailing down the coast. The course for 2018 has yet to be announced. After a large fleet in 2016 it appears that the Cape to Rio race, the Mauritius to Durban race, the economy and the drought has played havoc with the entries this year with 11 entries received and only 7 boats competing after others withdrew for a variety of reasons. The Durban to PE course for the Vasco represents a tough race along the Wild Coast which continues to test the yachts, crews, navigators and skippers all the way to the finish. The larger yachts will go far offshore looking for the extra 4 or 5 knots advantage from the Agulhas Current which sweeps down Africa's east coast. The smaller yachts with smaller crew - like ABYC's lone entry, Wallbanger with four onboard - will zigzag down the coast hoping that the shorter distance and slower flowing current will be just the ticket to beat the other entrants. Flying the Algoa Bay Yacht Club flag on Wallbanger - a Simonis 35 foot Design - will be skipper John Tudehope with crew Alan Straton, Morgan Griffiths and Mark Dawson. For Tudehope and Straton this will be their third Vasco da Gama Race on Wallbanger and they will be aiming to emulate the 2015 race when they won the Dave Cox Memorial Trophy for 1st PHRF over the line. As the only representative of ABYC, Wallbanger are quite confident of receiving the trophy for the 1st ABYC boat on handicap. Point Yacht Club organiser of the Vasco da Gama race, Richard Crockett refers to the race as; "A navigator's race giving many choices of courses coupled with the wind direction and fast flowing Agulhas current presenting unknowns . . .
Overnight leaders Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger produced another controlled performance to create a telling gap after the second stage of the Liberty Winelands Encounter in the Boland today. The BCX pair used their knowledge of the region - Woolcock is from Stellenbosch and Kruger from Paarl - to build a six-minute lead going into the final stage tomorrow. They completed the 57km stage from Franschhoek to Wellington in 2:17:21, finishing ahead of Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert (TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light), who clocked a time of 2:20:35. Jurgens Uys and Nicol Carstens (Versus Socks) were third for the second consecutive day, finishing in 2:23:00. The stage's outcome gave Woolcock and Kruger an overall time of 4:29:00, just more than six minutes clear of Hill and Joubert (4:35:27). Uys and Carstens (4:39:50) are third. Woolcock said it was not a case of making any significant moves on the day, but maintaining the pressure on their rivals until the climb up Cascade Manor 40km into the race. "The first 15 to 20km were fairly fast and flat, but knowing the trails pretty well, it was a matter of just keeping up the pace," he said. "The guys were on and off us the whole time and we had a gap of about one minute when we hit the big climb of the day." He added that they wanted to build up a decent gap going up Cascade Manor to the Hawekwa Plantation. "We managed to achieve that and still had something in reserve because there have been some fires in the region, which meant we had to be fairly careful on the single-track down to the finish," said Woolcock. After riding a large part of the first stage of the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, at tempo, he said they had been able to ease back even more today. "You could see that fatigue had set in with some of the riders and I always believe in keeping something in reserve rather than trying too hard and making mistakes." Kruger said they were still in good shape, . . .
The University of Johannesburg players have a busy period ahead, but hockey manager Elize le Roux said they would be ready to again challenge for the Varsity Hockey title next month. This year it is the turn of the women to compete in the Varsity Hockey tournament and UJ will be hoping to continue a wave of success after their title win in 2015 was sandwiched by their men's triumphs in 2014 and last year. The tournament will be played in Stellenbosch from May 5 to 8 and in Potchefstroom the following weekend. However, many UJ players have also been included in the Southern Gauteng teams that will play in the annual interprovincial in Johannesburg from April 23 and Le Roux said it would be a case of player management in the next few weeks. "It is going to be a hectic period and the IPT, placed just before Varsity Hockey, catches us a bit," she said. "The girls will need some time to recover but we do have a performance plan in place so we are all aware what awaits us in the next few weeks." Le Roux said they had a strong nucleus of senior members, complemented by a few youngsters, as well as a new coach in national star Lance Louw. "Lance has played in the Olympics and is still in the national squad, but is now beginning to concentrate a bit more on coaching," she said. "Each coach has an idea on how to handle things and I feel Lance will definitely bring something new to the squad and a fresh approach will be good for us." Played over two pressure-filled weekends, Le Roux said the players were prepared for the challenge. "The format of the two weekends has worked well because it tests your performance structure and the mindset and psyche of the players. "We see Varsity Sport as a high-profile competition and it does have a different element, with matches being played over four quarters of 15 minutes each. "It makes for exciting contests and we know we will not have it easy, especially with some tough matches on the first . . .
A successful transition from wing to inside centre resulted in such a stellar season for University of Johannesburg rugby star Aphiwe Dyantyi that he earned selection for the Varsity Cup Dream Team this week. After an injury last year derailed his contract with the Lions franchise, Dyantyi placed his focus on the Varsity Cup this year, forcing his way into the Dream Team with several notable performances. Looking back on the competition, the 22-year-old is satisfied that the move to midfield paid dividends. "For many, this change was a bit of a shock but I'd been in discussion with the coaches and we'd been preparing for the role," he said. "I was comfortable trying out for centre and it was a decision that has really yielded good results for everyone." In October last year Dyantyi signed with the Lions but injury a month later meant he had few opportunities to prove himself. "My motivation this Varsity Cup season was to play the best I could for UJ, but I also wanted to create other opportunities for myself outside of that." Ahead of the semifinals Dyantyi had beaten more defenders (26) than any other player during the season and also made the most off-loads (19), ball carries (74) and line breaks (10) in the competition. "The tournament has been a perfect platform for me to show the coaches at the Lions what I'm capable of," said the B Com marketing student. The season got off to a bad start for UJ as they lost their first two matches but an 18-17 win over Tuks proved to be the turning point for the team. "My standout occasion of the season was the game against Tuks," said Dyantyi. "We were coming back from two losses to play a team that had been unbeaten and it was during this game that we really managed to turn our season around." The team put together a five-match winning streak which came to an end when they lost 65-19 to Maties. However, they still qualified for the semis, where they were again beaten by . . .
Quickest out of the blocks on the early Botmaskop climb out of Stellenbosch, Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger stamped their mark on the opening stage of the three-day Liberty Winelands Encounter today. Although the BCX pair were pushed at times, they eventually got away about midway through the stage to take the top spot on the podium after finishing the 54km course to Franschhoek in 2:11:39. Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert (TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light) followed them home in 2:14:52, with Jurgens Uys and Nicol Carstens (Versus Socks) third in 2:16:50. Although Woolcock, from Stellenbosch, and Kruger, from nearby Paarl, are riding the race for the first time, they said they were familiar with the area. Not even a slight spill by Woolcock could derail their winning effort as they exerted the pressure from the outset and never relinquished their lead. "We spoke about it before the start and knew we had to make an effort on the first climb," said Woolcock. "I also know that section very well so our plan was always to try to get away there." He said the dry conditions made the route tricky at certain sections and they had to keep their concentration throughout the stage. "When I did lose a bit of concentration I had a slight front wheel drift and ‘bought a small plot', but no major damage was done," said Woolcock. "The handlebars were slightly skew, but I managed to straighten them a bit on the fly and then, when we got to a tar section, I took time to loosen a bolt and straighten them properly." After the early climb, Woolcock said Uys and Carstens came back at them, something the third-placed pair repeated after the leaders made a surge on a second ascent. "They came back at us on the single-track but I know how things turn out because although we were both putting in a big effort, they were riding five per cent harder just to get back to us. "We were riding tempo and actually saving energy. "Once we exited Boschendal on the mountain side towards the . . .
IFNB-NMMU rugby captain Kevin Kaba said he was looking forward to running out alongside players who, until now, have been his opponents when he fills the number eight jersey for the Varsity Cup Dream Team next week. The Madibaz star was included in the Varsity Cup side when it was announced after the final in Pretoria on Monday. The team will play the Junior Springboks in Stellenbosch on Tuesday. "It meant a lot to me that I was selected for the Dream Team because it was one of my goals when I went into the Varsity Cup tournament," said Kaba, the only Madibaz player in the squad. He added that the team included a number of players he was excited to be playing alongside, including Maties flank Kobus van Dyk and University of Johannesburg backline ace Aphiwe Dyantyi. Van Dyk played Super Rugby for the Stormers last year and Kaba said he was eager to learn from him. "It will be really valuable to play alongside someone of that calibre and with that experience," said the 22-year-old. "Dyantyi has also had a successful season so it will be nice to see what it's like being on his side for a change." In the Madibaz's 36-28 defeat to UJ in the Varsity Cup earlier this year, Dyantyi was named The Player That Rocks for his match-winning performance. A third-year B Com accounting student, Kaba said he was also looking forward to starting behind what he termed a "dominant tight five". "The tight forwards selected for the Dream Team have been incredible this season, so it will be great to be behind such a strong formation. "In general I think the team is amazing and it's a dream to be a part of it." The Madibaz skipper said he was ready for the challenge. "I feel our side have some really good players who could have been Junior Boks themselves, so I think we're in for a real strength versus strength encounter." After returning from a knee injury last season, Kaba said he was happy to have had such a strong comeback. "Last year I had quite a big setback in my rugby . . .
The winner of the women’s race at the 2016 Husqvarna Classic Mid-Illovo MTB Challenge, Jeannie Dreyer, said after the event that she “did not think much more can be done to improve the route.” She was wrong. The race organisers have managed to tweak and develop the course for the showcase 60km race this year and have made it even better than last year according to course designer Bruce Smith. The 60km Husqvarna Classic MTB X-Treme on April 30 will attract the cream of KZN mountain biking and by all accounts the riders in the area are in for a treat with Smith saying the race has to “keep upgrading and changing the trails to remain competitive.” Smith, the father of last year’s race winner Derrin Smith, is a farmer in the Mid Illovo area and leads the team of local farmers who design and build the 60km course. He said they have introduced more free-flowing single track which is not as technical as in 2016. “The route for the first 30km is similar to last year with lots of single track going through iNsingizi game farm. These are technical but worth it. “After 30km last year the race went on a lot of dirt road,” added Smith. “As we’re getting more competitive as a race we want to keep the riders coming back so we’ve got to keep upgrading and changing the trails, so we’ve introduced more free-flowing single track in this section. “The final 12km remains very similar to last year, except we have cut out some of the climbs which proved a bit tough for a lot of riders last year.” But the day is not just about the racing snakes who are looking to test their legs over 60km of challenging mountain biking. This is the 10th anniversary Husqvarna Classic and over the past decade the race has developed into one of the must-do events on the calendar because it offers something for everybody. For those mountain bikers who feel 60km is too much of a challenge, there is a standard 45km Safire MTB race and a relatively gentle 18km Gwahumbe Family Ride. And the younger set are . . .
Tournament director Valentine Brink has called the 44th SPAR Northern Areas Easter soccer tournament a massive success and said they were looking forward to an even better event next year. Brink has been involved in the Easter tournament since its inception in 1973 and said the festival of soccer continued to grow from strength to strength. "Even though there was some rain on Friday, thanks to the support of our sponsors, the whole weekend went off very well and we are excited as we look ahead to even bigger things next year," said Brink. He felt one of the features which had made a significant difference was the decision to include an invitation team, Sibanye, who eventually pocketed the title. Made up of players from the ABC Motsepe and SAB Leagues and representing one of the sponsors of the tournament, Sibanye Electrical, they defeated Park United 5-3 on penalties in the final after a 1-1 score at the end of extra time. Brink said the Sibanye team had lifted the playing standard at the tournament, resulting in the teams all raising the level of their play. "It was good to have these sorts of players in the tournament and I feel it is definitely an idea to pursue for the future. "None of the teams were disgraced against them and you could see them all working hard to show they could match Sibanye. "This was proved in the final, with Park United competing all the way and only losing in a penalty shootout. "They certainly helped to produce a high standard of soccer throughout the weekend." Another important feature of the festival, said Brink, was the age-group divisions. "For example, we had 60 U9 players in the tournament and also held an hour-long U9 development clinic on the Sunday morning, with some of the tournament's senior players passing on tips to the children." He said there were also age-groups from U11 to U17, while an U20 category, with eight teams participating, was introduced for the first time. "Having these . . .
Despite being hampered by a broken rib, BCX's sprinter Reynard Butler is still motivated to play an influential role when the Emperors Palace Classic road race takes place in Johannesburg on Sunday. The 28-year-old, who hails from East London but now lives in Honeydew in Johannesburg, suffered the injury when he came off his bike in the starting chute at the ill-fated Cape Town Cycle Tour last month. The Western Cape race was cancelled soon after the start due to heavy winds, but not before it set Butler back with an injury from which he has only recently recovered. However, he is still geared up for the 98km feature race on Sunday in an event he described as one of the "most prestigious" on the South African racing calendar. "It has a long tradition and many top riders have featured on the winner's podium so we will be going all out for the top spot this weekend," said Butler. "It is a race we all look forward to and many of the riders will be gunning for the title after missing out on the Cape Town Cycle Tour. "I am over the pain from the broken rib but have only been on the bike for about two weeks so am not quite at 100 per cent fitness." The BCX rider said he was ready to take part but would most likely play a supporting role to teammates such as Nolan Hoffman, Calvin Beneke and David Maree. "The team did well at the recent SA track champs and they still have quick legs so the aim will be to get them in the right situation." Having won the third stage of the Mpumalanga Cycle Tour in January, Butler said he had had a frustrating year with a number of setbacks keeping him from riding to his potential. "There have been a variety of things which have just made it a difficult year so far, like getting a puncture at the wrong time and now this rib injury from the Cape Town Cycle Tour," he said. "So from that point of view my major goals going forward are to regain full fitness and then try to ensure that things run smoothly from there . . .