The new finish of the Bestmed Satellite Championship road cycling classic supposedly favoured climbers, but Nolan Hoffman was fast to disprove that theory when he won the 110km race in Maropeng.
The BCX sprinter had the final say when he passed Dimension Data's Kent Main in the closing metres to take the title in 2:33:23. RoadCover's Bradley Potgieter completed the podium.
"I'm pretty chuffed to win a race that people thought climbers would win," said Hoffman, who took his third Bestmed Cycle4Cansa title at Sun City in late August.
Riding a tactically smart race, the rider from Ruimsig and team-mate David Maree joined five other riders - Bradley Potgieter (RoadCover), Ryan Harris (RoadCover), Luthando Kaka (Rand Water-Transnet), Jaco van Dyk (Cycling Box) and Chris Jooste - in a breakaway that formed within the first 20km.
"Today, with the hill at the end, I didn't think I'd be able to contest for the victory," said Hoffman, who was tasked with covering the breakaways.
"It somehow worked out that I got myself in the breakaway with six other guys. We worked well together and at some points we had four minutes on the group, and that's when my plans changed."
With about 10km to go, they reached the base of the decisive Hekpoort climb with a small advantage over the peloton. Harris and Van Dyk soon lost touch while Maree nursed Hoffman all the way to the top to keep him within 10 seconds of the leaders.
Meanwhile, a charging Main was able to bridge over to the leaders shortly after they crested the climb, leaving a group of six to fight it out for the victory.
"On the last drag to the finish, with about 700m to go, Kent attacked," explained Hoffman.
"David put in a final effort to close him down and I sprinted across to get on his wheel.
"I'm pretty happy to win a race like this, with tough, windy conditions. It's pretty cool," said the 32-year-old, who won once previously on a more forgiving course.
"It's confirmation that sometimes you can outsmart the climbers. We made sure we had a big enough gap at the base so that they wouldn't catch us and it worked out perfectly."
In the women's race, Demacon's Carla Oberholzer took her first Satellite Championship title in 3:07:07 after getting the better of former Olympian Joanna van de Winkel and Yzette Oelofse in the dash to the line.
The three were part of a breakaway that formed 30km in and it was Van de Winkel who called the shots on Hekpoort as she left both of her rivals behind.
"Jo made the pace really hard and I was the first to drop off, before Yzette did too," said the 30-year-old Oberholzer, who won the Jock Tour last month.
She continued to push hard and was able to reel Oelofse in before the top and from there they collaborated to bring Van de Winkel back with 2km to go.
Oberholzer, who won the Cycle4Cansa race in a sprint, said she knew she had to reach the final corner first to stand a chance of winning.
"My team-mates were absolutely amazing today. They did a phenomenal job protecting me and keeping me out of the wind so I'm really happy to pull off another win for Demacon."
1. Nolan Hoffman 2:33:23
2. Kent Main 2:33:23
3. Bradley Potgieter 2:33:33
4. David Maree 2:33:33
5. Luthando Kaka 2:33:42
1. Carla Oberholzer 3:07:07
2. Joanna van de Winkel 3:07:07
3. Yzette Oelofse 3:07:09
4. Suzan Cronje 3:09:54
5. Heidi Dalton 3:11:15