SA Track Stars on Track in Beijing

Nolan Hoffman and Bernard Esterhuizen turned in solid performances at the recent Beijing round of the 2011-2012 UCI Track Cycling World Cup presented by Samsung, the 3rd of the four leg series.  The racing took place from 12th to 15th January.

First up was Nolan Hoffman in the 15 kilometer Scratch race.  Nolan rode a very controlled heat to qualify comfortably for the final, this after being part of a 4-man breakaway who had lapped the bunch.  He rode a very aggressive final featuring in one or two breakaway attempts and even doing the hard work to close a gap or two.

Riding like a real contender, Nolan has shown the necessary confidence and class to be a winner in the future.  At the end he finished in 10th position to secure valuable World Championship qualification points.

Kirill Sveshnikov of Russia won the race after lapping the field.  Albert Torres Barcelo of Spain and Aliaksandra Lisouski of Belarus filled the other podium places.

Nolan made a valiant attempt at Garen Bloch’s long-standing National Individual pursuit record, falling just 4-seconds short of the record.  His time of 4:38.694 gave him 15th place in the 21-man field.  New Zealand’s Peter Latham won gold in a time of 4:25.964 with Mitchell Mulhern (AUS) and Kevin Labeque (FRA) taking the other places.

Bernard Esterhuizen faced a star-studded field in the Keirin event, but unfortunately failed to progress beyond the first round.  In the Sprint event he posted a credible qualifying time of 10.366 seconds, finishing in 18th position out of a 56-man starting field, narrowly missing out on a top 16 spot.

The fastest qualifier was China’s Lei Zhang with a time of 10.138.  Charlie Conord (FRA), who qualified in 6th position with a time of 10.257, upset the formbook by progressing to the final and beating Zhang for the gold medal.  Denis Dmitriev of the Moscow Track Team beat Juan Peralta Gascon (ESP) to claim the bronze medal.

The focus now moves to the 4th and final leg of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup series in London on 17-19 February 2012.  The competition here will be fierce as all nations make a final bid for much-needed World Champs and Olympic Games qualification points.