Capitalising on his sprinting power, Nolan Hoffman took charge in the dash for the line to win the opening stage of the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope near Paarl in the Western Cape today.
The 33-year-old BCX pro outdragged Rohan du Plooy (Alfa Bodyworks-Giant) and Italy's Luca Mozzato (Dimension Data Continental) over the final 200m to take the 132km stage in 3:17:15.
The top 10 were all credited with the same time.
Hoffman, who won the Fast One in January before going on to podium at the SA National Road Championships last month, was delighted with the victory which, he said, eased some of the pressure on the team.
"This stage was tailormade for me and we were sure it would come down to a sprint finish," he said.
"I am really happy to take this win because it's great to start a stage race on the front foot."
He said the final outcome was entirely due to the work his BCX teammates had put in throughout the day.
"There was quite a crosswind during the stage and my teammates did a fantastic job of protecting me from that.
"The plan was to deliver me for the final sprint and they did that to perfection."
Hoffman said Clint Hendricks, who joined the team in January, led him into the last corner.
"The timing was incredible because at the last turn Reynard Butler had already started the sprint.
"I got onto his wheel and I could see that he was fading so I just waited and then, with about 150m to go, I put my head down and did not look up until I crossed the line."
Hoffman added that the first 30km had been "fairly nervous with everybody trying to ride at the front".
A group of three - Brendon Downes (BCX), Luthanda Kaka (Velokhaya) and Ricardo Broxham (ProTouch) - got away after about 35km.
"With Brendon up front, we decided to take a back seat and watch how the stage unfold."
The leaders were eventually hauled back after 102km and, from there, Hoffman said they knew it would come down to a sprint.
Namibia's Vera Adrian, who races for dormakaba, also showed her sprinting prowess by edging former champion Ariane Luthi (Team Spur) in the women's race.
She crossed the line in 4:01:53 with Luthi two seconds behind. London-based Anneleen Bosma was third in the same time.
Former national rider Zanele Tshoko broke away early and rode solo for about 30km before the peloton gobbled her up. After that, Adrian said, there were a few attacks, but nobody managed to break free.
"In the last 10km it was really slow and, against a headwind with a lot of solo riders, nobody was prepared to go out and set the pace," said the 24-year-old.
"It picked up in the last kilometre when Catherine Colyn and Liezel Jordaan set a faster pace.
"Just before the last corner, with about 250 metres to go, Yzette Oelofse went to the front and I was lying second.
"I hoped it would come down to a sprint and with about 200m to go I just put my head down and went for it."
In a major incentive for the women's champion, Cape Town jewellery retailer Different by Design have donated a neckpiece with an ornamental bicycle attached valued at R25 000. The men's winner will receive a pair of sterling silver bicycle-shaped cufflinks.
Presented by Scicon and the City of Drakenstein, the race's focus will now switch to tomorrow's 26.5km time-trial, which will finish at Boland Agricultural School just outside Paarl.
Covering a total of 491km in and around Paarl, the event will finish at the Taal Monument just outside the town on Friday.
Stage 1 (132km)
1 Nolan Hoffman (BCX) 3:17:15
2 Rohan du Plooy (Alfa Bodyworks-Giant) 3:17:15
3 Luca Mozzato (DiData) 3:17:15
4 Reynard Butler (ProTouch) 3:17:15
5 Matteo Sobrero (DiData) 3:17:15
6 Shameeg Salie (Randwater-Transnet) 3:17:15
7 Louis Visser (DiData) 3:17:15
8 Alexendre Mayer (Mauritius) 3:17:15
9 Marc Pritzen (BCX) 3:17:15
10 Brad Gouveris (Alfa Bodyworks-Giant) 3:17:15
1 Callum Ormiston 3:17:21
2 Ricardo Broxham 3:17:22
3 Charl Swanepoel 3:17:34
4 Ethan Warrin 3:17:46
5 Tiano da Silva 3:17:54
1 Jaco Cronje 3:26:00
2 Jack van Wyk 3:26:04
3 Bennie Viljoen 3:29:35
4 Neil Timm 3:29:37
5 MC Dreyer 3:29:54
1 Julien van der Pluym 3:27:34
2 Thys Oosthuizen 3:29:53
3 Moolman Welgemoed 3:29:53
4 Johann Naude 3:29:54
5 Bryan Cusack 3:32:22
1 Dirkie Nel 3:45:29
2 Shane Daniel 3:45:29
3 Jose Antunes 3:45:29
4 Christiaan Engelbrecht 3:45:30
5 Irwin Zimmerman 3:45:30
1 Gavin Ryan 3:26:41
2 Mynhardt van der Merwe 3:26:41
3 Alexander Donaldson 3:26:42
1 Vera Adrian (dormakaba) 4:01:53
2 Ariane Lüthi (Spur) 4:01:55
3 Anneleen Bosma 4:01:55
4 Carla Oberholzer (Demacon) 4:01:55
5 Liezel Jordaan 4:01:55
Caption: Namibia's Vera Adrian of dormakaba wins the first stage of the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope, which finished at the Drakenstein Correctional Centre near Paarl in the Western Cape today. Photo: Robert Ward