Christoph Sauser and Konny Looser of Team Investec-Songo.info claimed Stage One of the FNB Wines2Whales MTB Race in a lightning fast time of 02 hours 49 minutes 37 seconds at the Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw) on Friday, 03 November 2017.
Starting at Lourensford Wine Estate (Somerset West) the 9th edition of the FNB W2W MTB Race attracted an impressive field of 1340 riders. Before crossing the finish line riders had to complete a 68km route that featured a 1650m ascent and included the Lourensford and Vergelegen climbs, the PERI Vergelegen Bridge, the portage over Gantouw Pass and the A2Z single tracks.
“Going into the race we knew that the PYGA boys are really strong,” says Sauser. “Luckily we know how to run. The goal was to get to the portage first. It’s hard to make up time over the next two days. So we put in every second today. We’re hoping to have a fun day on Stage Two, instead of just trying to hang on.”
Team PYGA Euro Steel 1’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes crossed the finish line in second place on the day. “We should definitely up our running game,” admits Buys. “We always seem to forget about the portage section. Next time we’ll come more prepared for it. The conditions were good. We managed to make up some time after the portage, but we lost the drag race on the last flat section.” Team PYGA Euro Steel 1 completed Stage One in 02 hour 50 minutes 28 seconds.
Team NAD Pro MTB’s Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck rounded off the Stage One podium with a finishing time of 02 hours 53 minutes 26 seconds. “The pace was hard until the 1st climb,” says Bell. “After that we slacked off. The teams stuck together, waiting for the portage. Christoph and Konny just ran away from us there. The stage was really enjoyable. Not too hot. The wet trails settled the dust nicely.”
The women’s race was led by Team Meerendal CBC’s Jennie Stenerhag and Adelheid Morath. “It was tough out there,” says Stenerhag. “We got away on the first climb. I set the pace at the start, but Adelheid later took over. She’s really strong. I’m not a runner, so I definitely walked the portage section. Vera and Adrian kept catching us. We went really hard on the last section. We only have one goal. Going into Stage Two we will try our best to defend our lead.”
Team Meerendal CBC completed stage three in 03 hours 19 minutes 50 seconds.
Team Dormakaba’s Candice Lill and Vera Adrian secured the second spot on the podium. “It was a tight race,” says Lill. “We could always see Jennie and Adelheid. We’re stoked with our performance today. The field of women is really good this year and so is the prize money. I love seeing so many strong women’s teams on the start line. The future looks good for women’s racing.”
Team Velocity Sports Lab’s Carmen Buchacher and Michelle Vorster finished third.
Husband and wife duo Martin and Jeannie Dreyer of Team Merchants claimed the top spot on the podium in the mixed team race in a time of 03 hours 35 minutes 22 seconds. “Being in Cape Town and riding in the rain today is really special,” says Martin. “I had a lovely time out on route with my wife. Being in the mixed team race, you never really know where you’ve placed until you cross the finish line. Over the next two stages we’ll have to keep our wits about us.”
Team SAICA’s Ila and Darryn Stow came in second, while Team Jowetts Racing’s Natalie Bergstrom and Warren Price finished third.
photo by Tobias Ginsberg