For Nolan Hoffman, riding in the Helivac Paarl Boxing Day Track Challenge is an emotional experience. “And I speak for every rider who takes part,” he assures.

The Team ENZA/PBC captain has been entertaining capacity crowds in the Faure Street Stadium for almost two decades and he has won the iconic UCI classified cycling event a record seven times during an illustrious career spanning 16 years.

The Paarl Boxing Day Track Challenge, presented by Alfa Bodyworks and the City of Drakenstein, attracts more than 5000 spectators to the Faure Street Stadium and it is the oldest event in all forms of cycling in the world. The meeting has not skipped a year since its inception in 1897.

Boxing Day is not only the biggest track cycling event in Africa, it’s also one of the most spectated in-stadium sporting events on the continent. This year spectator totals are set to increase following the news that the meeting has been included on the UCI International Track Calendar.

“We have so much respect for Boxing Day as well as for the riders who came before us and entertained the crowds at the Faure Street Stadium. There is 122 years of history that we’re part of. It makes you nervous and excited, but most of all it makes you feel very, very special,” says Hoffman.

“Boxing Day made my career and I have the utmost respect for the meeting – as does every other track rider I know. It’s just the most remarkable feeling racing in front of thousands of passionate spectators at the Faure Street Stadium. You can hardly hear yourself think!”

The picturesque Boland town of Paarl comes to a standstill to present Boxing Day. The event is renowned worldwide and the Paarl faithful have a saying that you might be the best in the world, but it means nothing if you’re second best in Paarl! 

The Boland is the cradle of track cycling in South-Africa and has produced some of finest sprinters the sport has seen, including Hoffman, who grew up in Franschhoek.

“When I have the privilege of lifting the Minnaar Cup, it’s indescribable. It really is emotional because you get a sense of honour and pride with your name appearing on the trophy with so many legends of the sport.” 

The Minnaar Cup was first introduced in 1908.

According to Hoffman, Boxing Day “means to us is what Paris Roubaix means to road riders. Winning Boxing Day is the pinnacle of achievement for any track cyclist.

“Boxing Day creates an addiction. Once you’ve taken part you’re hooked. That’s why even international riders come back year after year to compete after they’ve taken part just once.”

Hoffman is very motivated to lift the Minnaar Cup for the eighth time on 26 December. He is the most successful rider in the history of the meeting, ahead of Dirk Binneman who has five wins.

Hoffman says he has had his hands full over the past two years with so many cyclists in the 25 Mile focussing on dethroning him and ensuring he doesn’t get into a position for the win. 

“I lost out as a result over the past two years. I’m not going to say much about my tactics for this year, except that I’m certainly going to be more aggressive.

“I can’t wait for the meeting. I will always honour the Boxing Day tradition and look forward to playing my part in another chapter of this incredible event on 26 December.”

  • Spectator tickets are on sale at iTickets.co.za and limited to 2500 seats on the main pavilion, 600 seats on the popular Northern Pavilion and 400 seats on the Southern Pavilion.

The rest of the tickets are standing, and on the back-straight cement pavilion.

Cyclists with an international or domestic racing license are permitted to take part in the historic meeting. 

For more information and entries go to www.hecticpromotions.co.za

Follow Paarl Boxing Day on Facebook @paarlboxingday

Picture caption: Nolan Hoffman (right) on the wheel of Bronwyn Adams, who came very close to winning the 25 Mile last year following a delightful attack five laps from the finish.

Picture byline: Laurel Andrews



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