Stage Two of the FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) Mountain Bike (MTB) Race saw an exciting turn of events unfold at the Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw) on Saturday, 12 November 2016 with a sprint finish in both the men’s and women’s races resulting in new stage winners being crowned on the day.
Both the men’s and women’s race ended in an exciting sprint finish with Team Kross Bikes BiXS Pro’s Konny Looser and Fabian Giger pipping Team Investec-Songo-Specialized’s Christoph Sauser and Sam Gaze to the finish, while Team Spur’s Ariane Kleinhans and Cherie Redecker outsprinted Team Ascendis Health’s Robyn De Groot and Jennie Stenerhag.
“Today was absolutely great,” says Giger. “The W2W routes are great, the food is good and there’s a really nice vibe.” Team Kross Bikes BiXS Pro completed Stage Two in a lightning fast time of 02 hours 34 minutes 17 seconds. Investec-Songo-Specialized’s Christoph Sauser and Sam Gaze came in second, while Team Telkom’s Hendrik Kruger and Johann Rabie finished third.
According to Looser, the plan was to go out as hard as possible. “We battled with Team Investec-Songo-Specialized. We tried everything, but they just stayed on our wheels. We are happy with the stage win.”
“I can’t believe how amazing the trails are,” says Gaze. “Riding with Sauser is a real pleasure. I learn something new every day. My game plan for Stage Three is just to hang onto Sauser and survive. I am looking forward to it.”
“W2W is a benchmark event,” says Sauser. “Each year you think that it’s impossible for the event to improve, but each year the organizers are a step ahead. There is always a good field. Our revs are always at its highest.”
“This is the first time that I get ‘chicked’ on the finish,” says Karl Platt of Team Bulls referring to De Groot and Stenerhage beating them to the finish. “We’ve just come out of our off season, having had a good time at the beer festival in Germany. Coming into the event we decided that we’d see how our legs felt, but we knew that we wouldn’t be here to win. Today’s stage was fun, there was a lot of single track and the weather was really nice. W2W is something special. There is such a nice, relaxing atmosphere.”
Team Spur’s Ariane Kleinhans and Cherie Redecker claimed the Stage Two victory in 02 hours 55 minutes 54 seconds. “W2W can’t get better,” says Kleinhans. “We went flat out from the gun. Team Ascendis Health brought their A game. They are really strong and kept attacking. We’re really happy to be able to get ahead of them and cross the finish line first. Tomorrow we’ll give our all. Anything can happen in mountain biking.”
“We struggled to get away,” says De Groot. “Team Spur tried, but we managed to stick with them. We lost nothing and gained nothing today. W2W is a wonderful race. It’s the attention to detail that stands out. The pros definitely look forward to it every year.” Team Dormakaba Time Freight’s Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian rounded off the podium on the day.
Team Merchants’ Martin and Jeannie Dreyer claimed gold in the mixed team race in an impressive time of 03 hours 15 minutes 57 seconds. Team SAICA Global Asp Ila’s Stow and Marc Wells came in second, while Team CFP CYCLETEC Mixed’s Genevieve Weber and Nichol Jordaan finished third.
Going into Stage Three, Team Investec-Songo-Specialized’s Christoph Sauser and Sam Gaze is leading the men’s race, followed by Team Kross Bikes BiXS Pro’s Konny Looser and Fabian Giger in second place and Team Telkom’s Hendrik Kruger and Johann Rabie in third place.
Team Ascendis Health’s Robyn De Groot and Jennie Stenerhage are currently leading the women’s race, followed by Team Spur’s Ariane Kleinhans and Cherie Redecker in second place and Team Dormakaba Time Freight’s Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian in third place.
Team Merchants’ Martin and Jeannie Dreyer are in the lead in the mixed team race, followed by Team SAICA Global Asp Ila’s Stow and Marc Wells and Team CFP CYCLETEC Mixed’s Genevieve Weber and Nichol Jordaan.
After breaking the ice on Stage One, Stage Two treated riders to what has affectionately become known as the W2W’s ‘Play Day’. Consisting of a fun-filled 64km route (with 1400m ascent), Stage Two includes some of W2W’s most iconic sections such as: the Paul Cluver Amphi Bike Park with well-known MTB features including Raka, Swing, Ark, Cobra (switch-backs), Mamba, Boomslang, Pofadder, Jakkels, Pine Singles (now with dual and cross-overs) and the Berms. The day’s action was closed off with the upgraded triple storeyed KROMCO-PERI Bike Park, which stands an impressive 6 – 8m above ground.
Stage Three of the 2016 FNB W2W MTB Race, the final destination stage from the winelands to the ocean, will see riders leave the Race Village at Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw) on Sunday, 13 November 2016, take on a 69km journey (with 1200m climb) before crossing the finish line at Onrus Caravan Park (just outside Hermanus).