Featuring three magnificent days of mountain biking, the FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) Mountain Bike (MTB) Ride closed off on a high note at the Onrus Caravan Park (just outside of Hermanus) on Wednesday, 09 November 2016.
The final destination stage, Stage Three started at the majestic Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw). Riders had to complete a 69km route that featured a 1200m climb. Iconic sections on route included: passing the Houw Hoek Inn, the oldest hotel in South Africa, meandering through the quaint town of Botriver past the Botriver School, experiencing the magnificent Wildekrans and Hermanus Trails, Gaf-se-Bos, the Fruitways Beach Crossing, the PERI river crossing and then finally crossing the finish line by the sea.
The men’s, women’s and mixed team categories celebrated hat-trick victories on the day.
With the telltale signs of two days of racing in their legs, Team ACE Lesotho’s Phetetso Monese and Bruce Hughes managed to put up a valiant fight, leading the elite men’s race from Water Point Two until the finish. “My legs weren’t feeling great this morning,” says Hughes. “We kept a casual pace until Water Point Two. Phetetso then decided to put it down on the climb, I just followed. Taking part in the W2W is such a privilege. The event just keeps getting better and better.”
“My legs were really sore today,” says Monese. “Stage Three was really exciting, finishing at the sea. W2W is tough. I will definitely train harder next year.” Team ACE Lesotho secured the Stage Three victory in 02 hours 59 minutes 52 seconds and an overall event victory in a combined time of 09 hours 04 minutes 35 seconds. Team KAP Prochorus’ Lorenzo Le Roux and Daniel Mannweiler came in second, while Team Lantau Buffaloes’ HP Odendaal and Daniel Carleton finished third.
According to rally sensation Ashley Haigh Smith, W2W is his highlight event of the year. “Gugu Zulu introduced me to the W2W four years ago. This year I rode in honour of Gugu. There are many reasons why W2W is special. The riders are well looked after, the atmosphere is amazing and a lot of work goes into the trails.”
It was all smiles for Team Haaskat’s Russell Lund and Anneke Hanekom, claiming the Stage Three win in 03 hours 23 minutes 16 seconds, and the overall victory in a combined time of 10 hours 23 minutes 48 seconds. “It all just comes together in the end,” says Lund. “Today was pretty much admin free. We started steady and finished strong.”
“Today was amazing,” said Hanekom. “I can’t decide which stage is better.” Team Bike Hub’s Nicholas Webb and Kylie Hanekom came in second, while Team Citricom 2’s Jeanie De Villiers and Piet Laubscher finished third.
Team Companero’s Jana Kruger and Ilse Viljoen finished strong with a 03 hours 44 minutes 06 seconds Stage Three victory and an overall victory in a combined time of 11 hours 36 minutes 29 seconds. “Stage three was very nice,” says Viljoen. “I am crazy about single track. W2W is amazing, really well organised with perfect routes. This is easily the best event that we’ve ever taken part in.” After three days of racing Team Sterri Stumpi & Beer’s Meike Aschenbroich and Inky Talbot claimed the second spot on the podium, while Team Vergelegen’s Alta Kriegler and Sunette Beyers finished third.
“The Ride certainly lived up to expectations, sustaining great momentum from the first stage. The atmosphere was both intense and enjoyable as the cyclists showcased varying levels of fitness and talent, while being wowed by the amazing scenery. Well done to all the participants and winners. We are looking forward to a spectacular finish as we approach the last stage of the event, the FNB W2W MTB Race,” said Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business.