“ I was so proud that the best team in Australia would sacrifice themselves, and put all their faith in me”
We have seen him come, we have seen him conquer, but who is he? How did he get here? And how does he manage to sneak out to the shops to get a snack without the Directeur Sportif knowing? These are the questions pertinent to getting to know the new kid on the scene, the rider whose first name is conducive to many bad puns; Steele Von Hoff.
Aside from a devastating sprint finish, Steele brings to the team a balance of professionalism and youthful exuberance that encapsulates those around him. His attitude to his training is reflected in his results, so we’re not going to nit pick that here. We want to know what and who makes Steele tick. So settle down, grab a coffee and enjoy…
Jono: First cab off the rank Steele, many fans of domestic cycling in Australia want to know what it is like to have a pornstar name? Does your name score you any bonus points with the ladies? Are you in fact a part time pool cleaner?
Steele: When ever I order pizza, I can guarantee you that they will ask for my name twice! I don’t no why so many people don’t believe that it’s really my first name! There are others out there! Back in the day when I was a young lad and allowed McDonalds, I walked in to be greeted by the manager, and he was asking every customer “is your name Steele”? And it was my lucky day! The manager lost a bet with one of the staff members also named Steele and I got a free happy meal! Happy days!
Jono: We understand you have tinkered in the past with things like triathlon, MTB and HPV racing, what brought you to your senses and got you into road racing? What does the future hold for you, do you see yourself chasing stage wins on the Champs-Elysees or back into recumbent racing at Casey Fields?
Steele: Well I was a pretty keen triathlete, training way too much, and ended up with pretty bad shin splints every time I ran, so I decided to get my ride up to scratch as it wasn’t my strongest leg… until I started winning bike races! And I hadn’t really won much before that, and really loved the feeling! I was hooked! And now I’m addicted and I just want to try and win bigger and bigger races! But deep down inside I know, one day when I’m old, I will make a come back to recumbent riding, try and get all my Aussie records back, and also finally try and get that world speed record I used to want so so bad! (134kmh on a flat, un assisted)
Jono: Great sportsman tend breed great rivalries, Armstrong and Ulrich, Hinault and Fignon, Cavendish and everyone. So who is that person that you just love to beat?
Steele: There are a couple, when I first started riding, Murray Spink was the marked man! I used to thrive on trying to break away, and then roll him in the sprint! I remember one Modella race (A local club race), it was my first road race (I had only raced crits prior), I had my first encounter with Pat Shaw! Murray wouldn’t roll a turn, so I wouldn’t either! Pat with his bleached blond hair in blue VIS kit, that I wanted so desperately, grew to 8 foot as he was yelling at me for not rolling through, haha! Little did he know that one day I would be on his team! So from that day, I liked to try and beat Pat too!
But the biggest rivalry I have would have to be Rico Rogers, we have raced together so many times, and trained together so many times, that there was a point in our careers that we were willing to throw a club win just to try and beat each other! Just eyeing each other off, following each others attacks, and duelling each other all the way down the finishing straight!
Jono: Tell us which of your victories you have enjoyed the most? Why?
Steele: One of my most prominent memories would be my first A grade win at Sandown, the field was 88 strong and had all of the regular big hitters racing. Including a person who I was really scared of at the time – Joel Pearson- who, along with the then reigning Austral Champ Ben Sanders, and myself, was part of a 3 way duel to the finish! Also Rico Rodgers came in 4th with Pete Johnstone in 5th and Tommy Nankervis in 6th. It was my first real win on a bike… ever, and made me realise I wasn’t half bad at sprinting!
Most recent would be stage 9 of tour of Gippsland 2011, I was so proud that the best team in Australia would sacrifice themselves, and put all their faith in me for the sprint finish. Just watching them all lined out battling with other trains for me was the best feeling ever! Luckily I managed to repay them that day!
Jono: We all know that it’s important to spend our recovery time conserving energy, so what hobbies do you have that keep you sane on easy days? Apparently remote control cars and helicopters are a passion of yours?
Steele: I have recently purchased a ‘Traxxas E-Revo’ to partner be a partner in crime to my ‘Traxxas Rustler’. Sadly these super fast remote control cars are now banned on tour as they have already caused enough injuries to the team. Yes AJ, you did fall down the stairs!
Jono: You have recently taken the plunge and gone full time with your cycling career, what did you do before that to balance all those hours in the saddle?
Steele: Well working life used to be fun, as I worked at McDonalds for a very long time. But then I joined a mountain bike team whose main sponsor was a nutritional company, so I was sadly asked to hand in a resignation at my beloved fast food restaurant. Then I took up an apprenticeship working full time as a welder. I was welding a vast range of things from petrol tankers to morgue racks. At the end of my welding life, I got in to a nice routine of factory working, attempting to sit down for most of the day to save my legs for the training session about to follow. It was quite a common thing to see me scooting across the factory floor in my wheelie chair!
Jono: If you could pick a Pro cyclist currently racing who you think you most represent, who would it be?
Steele: Tough one, but I like to think my abilities will form somewhat like the god of thunder! He has a killer sprint, but can also make it over the toughest hills!
Jono: Despite your apparent ‘rippage’, team manager Andrew is ever critical if just one skerrick of junk food finds its way to you. Tell us, what is the best thing you have eaten that Andrew didn’t know about?
Steele: Laughter, whilst on a training camp in Adelaide I tried to sneak out of the door to the shops unnoticed, when Andrew stopped me in my tracks as I was trying to persuade him I was just going for a walk to stretch the legs. He told me to give him my wallet, I had predicted this might happen and had separated some money from my wallet prior to my departure. I stumbled across a Chinese sweet shop that satisfied my hearts desires that day.
Jono: And what would be the best, most deliciously evil thing you could eat post ride?
Steele: Well Jono, there are many traditions I “used” to follow, such as fish and chips at lunch break mid rides, but the worst 2 traditions of my old diet that come to mind would be every year after tour of bright I used to stop off at Wangaratta Maccas for a pounder (4x meat). After any 24hour races I used to devour a footy bucket of KFC. The most evil thing that has ever passed through me would be a snack I used to have. It was a full bag of supreme nachos, doused with salsa and about a cup of cheese toasted in the oven until golden brown. I didn’t realise how bad it was until I started watching my diet, and found out that there is over 100g of fat in that ‘snack’.
Jono: Finally, this is the important bit, this is the section where you get to give thanks to all those people who have helped you so far. Family, friends, sponsors, anyone who has helped set you on your trajectory today.
Steele: I would like to thank my mum and my dad for sacrificing the last 20 years of their lives to allow me to peruse my sporting dreams, all the way through from vic kick, roller hockey, swimming, little aths, running, HPV, triathlons and now bike riding!
Also I would like to thank my first real coach, Nicky Frey for turning me from a kid that couldn’t even make the cross country team in to a national level runner! She is who made me an athlete.
Next up I would like to thank my triathlon coach and mentor Steven Foster, who taught me how to ride a bike fast, and has always had faith that I would be able to make something of my self if I put my heart to it!
Also I need to thank my local bike shop Trail mix! If it wasn’t for Snozz’s generosity and faith, I probably wouldn’t be riding anymore. When things seemed at an all time low, he put me back on a bike seat and provided me with the opportunity to join Genesys Wealth Advisers cycling team, and that is where the real journey began
Last but not least, Andrew Christie-Johnston, words can’t describe what he has done for me in the last year, He has developed my physical abilities from I believe C grade level to what you see today. He has taught me all I know about tactics on how to win bike races!
And there you have it folks. The man of Steele.