Top riders for Cycle Tour

Gent's top 3 from left Clint Hendricks 2nd, Nolan Hoffman 1st and Rohan Du Plooy 3rd photo FREDLIN ADRIAAN 23/2/2017 THE HERALD Cycle Tour Main race. photo FREDLIN ADRIAAN 23/2/2017 THE HERALD

Gent’s top 3 from left Clint Hendricks 2nd, Nolan Hoffman 1st and Rohan Du Plooy 3rd photo FREDLIN ADRIAAN 23/2/2017 THE HERALD Cycle Tour Main race. photo FREDLIN ADRIAAN 23/2/2017 THE HERALD

THERE will be yet another strong lineup of elite riders gunning for top honors in next year’s Herald Continental Cycle Tour.

Nolan Hoffman, of Team BCX, will return to defend his 106km Classic title, while Port Elizabeth’s own, Anriette Schoeman, will look to retain both her 80km mountain bike and 106km road race titles.

KwaZulu Natal’s Andrew Hill will be keen for another 80km victory on the Addo trails.

Team Giant manager Hannes van der Walt said his team enjoy racing in Port Elizabeth and they always get good results there. It is “probably the most well organised race in the country,” he said.

“We love coming to this race and being part of its history. Its’ one of the big races to win in South Africa!”

Van der Walt said they had a great experience this year and were treated like real professionals.

“The food and accommodation could not have been better,” he said. “Staying at the Radisson Blu made logistics easy. It’s great to walk out of the hotel to the start and finish line.”

Team Giant are looking forward to having another good experience at next year’s event, and maybe bettering their third place finish [Rohan du Plooy in the 106km Classic] with a win.

The Herald Continental Cycle Tour is close to her heart, says Schoeman, because she loves the Eastern Cape and Port Elizabeth.

Being the biggest cycling event in the Eastern Cape, she said she is proud to be part of the race that boasts the beautiful and scenic roads we have in this part of the world, as well as the incredible hospitality and history of this iconic event.

“I did the MTB event for the first time this year and I absolutely loved it,” Schoeman said.

“Splitting [the MTB and road races] over two weekends made it possible to be competitive in both events, and being in February makes it an ideal event to prepare for the Cape Town Cycle Tour in March.

“The vibe at the event is very festive and the local support has been amazing. My sponsors also get a chance to get fantastic exposure, which is always important.

“Because the event is so well organised, I always look forward to a great and enjoyable day on the bike — irrespective of the result — and a beautiful, scenic race, which makes the safety of the riders a priority.”

Hoffman considers the Cycle Tour to be a home ground race because of all the support he gets from the PE crowd.

“This year’s race was very tough! We had rain, wind and a lot of attacking throughout the day. But the sun came out during the last 40km for a dry sprint at the finish,” he said.

“The race organisers really looked after all the teams well by putting them up in the same hotel. It gives you a real feeling of a European event.”

Hoffman hopes to be in winning form next year to make it five victories in a row. “That would be a nice goal to achieve for me.”

The hospitality and warmness of the people behind the scenes at this year’s event was world class, says mountain biker Hill.

Even with the gloomy weather and muddy conditions in Addo, he really enjoyed himself.

“Everything about the pre-event lead-up, the hospitality at Zuurberg, and race day was world class and seamless. There aren’t many race organising committees who put that much effort into making the stay great,” Hill said.

The MTB races take place on February 18 at the Addo Polo Club — the 80km Extreme starting at 6am, and the 60km Adventure at 6.15am.

Riders for the Corporate Team Challenge will need to be at the start line at 7am on February 24 at Pollok Beach.

The 106km Classic on February 25 starts at 6am at Pollok Beach, and the 55km Pursuit at 8am.

Race packs can be collected at Pollok Beach from 9am until 7pm on February 16, and on February 17 from 9am until 1pm. And then on February 23 from 9am until 7pm and from 9am until 1pm on February 24.

Entries close on the January 28 at midnight. Online entries only. No manual entries will be accepted.