EXCLUSIVE! THE STORY OF WINES2WHALES

Celebrating its 8th anniversary in November this year, the FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) MTB Events are proud to be ranked as one of South Africa’s top three “must do” stage races.

After completing his first Sani2C in 2006, avid mountain biker Johan Kriegler  had a desire to stage a similar multi-stage race in the Western Cape.

At the same time Stillwater Sports, a leading lifestyle sports agency in South Africa since 2000, with an expanded event capacity and commercial expertise, was looking to establish a world class multi day MTB event.

Hendrico Burger brought Stillwater Sports and MTB Adventures together, and after nearly a year of planning, the W2W MTB Events was born under the directorship of Michael Meyer, Dezroy Poole, Johan Kriegler and Hendrico Burger.

Every year this team guides the event, with the goal of continuous improvement, to establish the W2W as the leading MTB stage race in the world.

What’s been happening at W2w since the start in 2009?

Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg
Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg

The W2W events experienced a tremendous increase in entries, added some new race categories, developed several new trails and a multitude of route upgrades from the first race back in 2009.

2009 – The inaugural W2W 3-day Race took place in November and started at Tri-Active in Elgin. The race attracted 300 riders with the first race village established at the De Rust Futura School in Elgin. The new Schapenberg MTB Trails, funded by Pedal Power Association (PPA) was introduced at the event.

2010 – By 2010 word of the W2W Race had been well received, and, to the delight of the organizers a spectacular field of 1 100 riders signed up to be part of the second years’ experience with over 300 riders on the waiting list. The 2010 race village was moved to the Elgin Grabouw Country Club. The New Paul Cluver & extended Thandi MTB Trails (partly funded by PPA) was introduced at the event.

2011 – This spectacular overnight growth spurt, resulted in the event organizers splitting the field in 2011 with the introduction of the W2W Adventure. By hosting two events, the Event Organizers could give more mountain bikers the opportunity to be part of the W2W experience. Both the 2011 W2W Adventure and W2W Race attracted a field of 850 riders (per event) with over 500 riders on the waiting list. The new Molteno Trail was introduced at the event.

2012 – The race village moved one more time. The picturesque Oak Valley Wine Estate in the Elgin/Grabouw area became home to the riders for the 3-day event, with both the Adventure and Race a field of 1 100 riders (per event), with over 500 riders on the waiting list. The new Hermanus Trail was introduced at the event.

2013 – The W2W Event Organizers welcomed an exciting new title sponsor, FNB to the annual event.  Due to popular demand, the Event Organizers initiated a third event during the week between the “Adventure,” and the “Race,” called the “Ride.” The “Adventure” and “Race” attracted a field 1 300 riders (per event), while 660 riders took part in the “Ride,” with over 600 riders on the waiting list.  The new Paul Cluver Bike Park was introduced at the event.

2014 – Cape Trails, the official route builders of the FNB W2W MTB Events, took ownership of their new Specialized mountain bikes compliments of the event organizers and Specialized South Africa. The Adventure, Race and Ride attracted a field 1 300 riders (per event), with over 600 riders on the waiting list.

2015 – The organizers of the FNB W2W MTB Events together with Cape Pine and Cape Trails, opened the latest addition to the 2015 FNB W2W MTB route, the A-2-Z Trail in Grabouw to the public. The Adventure, Race and Ride attracted a field of 1 300 riders (per event), with over 876 riders on the waiting list. The new c was introduced at the event.

2016 – FNB W2W event organizers purchased a property in Grabouw for Cape Trails, the official route builders of the FNB W2W MTB Events.  Cape Trails members, Ashwell Swartz moved into the house, while Denzel Scheepers moved into the flat.

The Adventure, Race and Ride has attracted a field 1 300 riders (per event), with over 815 riders on the waiting list.

The new Eikenhof and Karwyderskraal Trails will be introduced at the event.

Prize Purse – The organizers of the FNB W2W MTB Events are excited to announce that the prize purse for the 2016 FNB W2W MTB Race has increased to an impressive R407 500.00.

“We are proud to increase the prize purse of the 2016 FNB W2W MTB Race,” says Michael Meyer, FNB W2W MTB Director.

“The increase is sure to elevate the caliber of racing by attracting professional riders both locally and from abroad.”

To add to the excitement, the overall men’s and women’s prize has been increased from R65 000.00 to R100 000.00, while prize money has also been allocated to age group riders.  This will be the highest prize purse that the FNB W2W MTB Race has offered to date.

According to Swiss mountain bike legend, Christoph Sauser, prize money is crucial in supporting the career of a professional mountain biker.  “It is great to see that the FNB W2W MTB Events are honoring the pros.  I am certain that they won’t be disappointed in getting awesome racing in return.”

“Last year the FNB W2W MTB Event Organizers increased the prize purse for the women’s teams.  This was an incredible move to provide equity within the sport,” says current National Marathon Champion Robyn De Groot. “This year they continue to make waves by increasing the prize purse for professional racing teams.  As a professional athlete, a healthy prize purse is something that we always appreciate and are extremely grateful for.”

Starting in the Winelands of Somerset West at Lourensford Wine Estate, riders will cross through (and over) 13 wineries, 26 private farms, 6 mountains, historic roads and mountain passes, nature conservation areas (including the Kogelberg Biosphere) before finishing within sight of the famous whales of Hermanus!

FNB Wines2Whales MTB Adventure:  Friday, 4 – 6 November 2016

FNB Wines2Whales MTB Ride:  Monday, 7 – 9 November 2016

FNB Wines2Whales MTB Race:  Friday, 11 – 13 November 2016

FOUR Founding Directors

michael-meyer-640x480Michael Meyer

“Stillwater Sports was very excited to launch the W2W in 2009,” says Meyer.

“In the initial stages of a mountain bike race, when the early decisions are being made, it is very important to have a strong sports marketing influence.”

 

 

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Dezroy Poole

Dezroy oversees the logistical elements of the three events. He has fulfilled the role of Race Director for some of South Africa’s mass participation events.

His time as a school teacher and former triathlon team manager for South Africa at two Olympic Games helps greatly in that regard.

hendrico-burger-640x480

 

Hendrico Burger

Burger is the Technical Race Director of all three events.  He is responsible for route management including: route marking, safety (medics, doctors, sweeps, VOC and so on), management of venue layouts and race village build up. He also liaises with local authorities like SAPS and fire departments.

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Johan Kriegler

Doing the Sani2C 10 years ago Kriegler had a revelation – “why do Capetonians go through all this hassle to get there while we have more mountains, fynbos and sea?”

He says it took him two years to figure out an interesting route from Somerset West to Hermanus.

 

W2W SUPPORTS Charity

The FNB W2W MTB Events firmly believes in community upliftment through sport.  The following charities lie close to the hearts of our event organizers and therefore receive support from the FNB W2W MTB Events:  Songo.info (a charity focusing on bringing sport to the Kayamandi township of Stellenbosch) and local community programmes en-route including Hermanus Rotary Club, Helderberg Rotary, Helderberg Sunrise Rotary Club, Elgin Round Table, De Rust Futura School, Botriver School, Cape Leopard Trust, Cape Trails, Lebanon Creche and Trust and the Botriver Educational Foundation.

WE SAY, THANK YOU!

“We are privileged to be able to work with the cream of the crop when it comes to sponsors,” says Michael Meyer, FNB W2W MTB Director.  “Not only are our sponsors passionate about the FNB W2W, but they are passionate about the lifestyle that it represents.”

“Representing exceptional brands, we trust that together with the aid of our sponsors the 2016 FNB W2W MTB Adventure, Ride and Race will be a memorable experiences likened to no other.”sponsors

For more information visit www.wines2whales.co.za

Read More: Route Building, W2W Charities, FNB Race Attracts Stellar Int. Field