It was a warm start to Stage One of the 2017 FNB Wines2Whales Mountain Bike (MTB) Ride at the picturesque Lourensford Wine Estate on Monday, 30 October 2017.
The first of two destination stages, Stage One saw riders having to complete a 64km route that featured a 1650m ascent before crossing the finish line at Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw), their home away from home.
Olympian Phetetso Monese (Lesotho) and Leonhard Lukoschek (Germany) of Team ACE Lesotho applied pressure from the start. “This is my third W2W,” says Monese. “Last year I finished first in the men’s race. I really want to defend my title. So we went fast from the start. Stage One featured some great riding. I was a little worried when I heard that Leonhard was a roadie, but after today I’m no longer worried.”
Monese became the first Olympic cyclist from Lesotho when he qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
“I’m a visiting student from Germany,” says Lukoschek. “I don’t have a mountain biking background. I’m actually a triathlete that’s more of a runner. I’ve heard that W2W is well organized and that the views are beautiful, so I expected to see stunning landscapes. It’s definitely lived up to its reputation. I’ve also heard that the event is one big party, so I’m really looking forward to tonight.” Team ACE Lesotho crossed the finish line in 03 hours 21 minutes 59 seconds. Team Transporters’ Steven Bark and Fabian Valsechi came in second, with Team Tallboys’ Michael Van Niekerk and Trevor Baptiste finishing third.
With the competitive streak clearly running in the family, brother and sister duo Mariske and Stephan Strauss of Team Oak Racing obliterated the field in the mixed team race claiming the stage victory in 03 hours 40 minutes 09 seconds. “This is my 4th or 5th W2W. The event just doesn’t get old,” says Mariske. “The trails are awesome. I must admit the forest section was absolute heaven. It’s getting hot out there. My brother was a machine. We said we’d take it easy, but you know how it goes, you always find challengers on route to dice.”
“This is the first time that we ride together,” says Stephan. “For the past four years I’ve focused on work. It’s really nice to be back on the bike again. We’re definitely here to have fun. After today I can confirm now already that we’ll be back next year.” Team Giant Durbanville’s Julien Louw and Colleen De Oliveira came in second, while Haaskat’s Russell Lund and Anneke Hanekom finished third.
Defending champions Ilse Viljoen and Jana Kruger of Team Defenders took the Stage One victory in 04 hours 26 minutes 06 seconds. “We had a good ride,” says Viljoen. “We started well, but it got hot quickly out there. We had to stop at water point two for a drink. We are really looking forward to Play Day.”
According to Kruger, Stage One was phenomenal. “The single tracks were superb. It was even more enjoyable than last year. To sum up Stage One, it was tough fun.” Team Pace of Mind’s Halcyone Muller and Heidi Nieuwoudt came in second, while Team Pool Nurse’s Alta Kriegler and Sunette Beyers finished third.
EVENT INFORMATION: FNB Wines2Whales MTB Ride
Stage Two: Tuesday, 31 October 2017
Start Venue: Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw)
Finish Venue: Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw)
Start Time: 07:00
EXCITING PRIZE: This year one lucky rider (per event) will take home a magnificent 2018 Specialized Epic Comp Carbon mountain bike to the value of R59 000.
For more information on the FNB Wines2Whales MTB events contact Chris on 083 760 3158, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wines2whales.co.za
ABOUT FNB WINES2WHALES
Recently acquired by Cape Epic (PTY) Ltd, FNB Wines2Whales is a three-day mountain bike stage race held in the Western Cape, South Africa. Founded in 2009, the annual event hosts four thousand riders competing in two-person teams over 70-80km per day. The race format consists of three consecutive, separate, but identical events over ten days (named ‘Adventure’, ‘Ride’ and ‘Race’) – allowing riders to choose the appropriate option that suits their level of competitiveness. With entries selling out each year, FNB Wines2Whales is regarded as South Africa’s premier three-day mountain bike stage race.
ABOUT CAPE EPIC (PTY) Ltd and ABSA CAPE EPIC
The Absa Cape Epic® is the world’s premier mountain bike stage race. The route changes every year, leading aspiring amateur and professional mountain bikers from around the world through roughly 650km of unspoilt scenery and 15,000m of accumulated climbing, over some of the most magnificent mountain passes in Western Cape in South Africa. The Absa Cape Epic is the most televised mountain bike stage race in the world and the only eight-day mountain bike stage race classed as hors catégorie by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). This official UCI status makes it a highlight on the professional racer’s calendar. The Absa Cape Epic also attracts aspiring amateur riders wanting to test themselves against the best. It is a full-service race, meaning that everything is taken care of from the start – all riders need to think about is riding.
In 2017, Cape Epic was acquired by the IRONMAN group, part of Wanda Sports, to anchor a global portfolio of off-road events and to spearhead the development and expansion of a worldwide series of premium mountain-bike races.
For more information on the FNB Wines2Whales®, visit www.wines2whales.co.za
For more information on the Absa Cape Epic®, visit www.cape-epic.com
For more information on the IRONMAN brand and global event series, visit www.ironman.com