Road Stars Aim to Become Mountain Bike Heroes at the Absa Cape Epic

The Absa Cape Epic has a formidable global reputation which sees the event attract celebrities and sports stars that seek to take on the challenge of the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. Every year we see an increase in former roadies participating, looking to clinch a podium spot. It stands to reason, but the rugged terrain of the Western Cape is far removed from the smooth asphalt of Europe – making competing in the Absa Cape Epic seem like virtually a different sport to the former road racing stars.

The Absa Cape Epic has a formidable global reputation which sees the event attract celebrities and sports stars that seek to take on the challenge of the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race. Every year we see an increase in former roadies participating, looking to clinch a podium spot. It stands to reason, but the rugged terrain of the Western Cape is far removed from the smooth asphalt of Europe – making competing in the Absa Cape Epic seem like virtually a different sport to the former road racing stars.

Two icons from the road, making the transition to the mountain for the 2018 Absa Cape Epic are Erik Dekker and Jurgen van den Broeck. Hailing from the Low Countries neither has any significant mountain biking experience to call upon, but they do each have an impressive palmarès from their years of racing on the WorldTour.

Dekker, a four-time Tour de France stage winner and the ex-LotoNL Jumbo sports director, has reignited his competitive spirit as a Masters category rider. “A year ago I was also convinced that I want to experience the adventure.  Later on it became a race as well! Now both are possible” he began. “A year ago I was looking for a mountain biking experience.  I have followed the Absa Cape Epic for years, but I was sure that if I wanted to compete in it I’d have to learn a lot to be ready to race eight days. Mountain biking is more than just biking! So I took some time to gain experience” Dekker reflected on his journey thus far.

“During 2017 I gained more experience and I was getting really excited about mountain biking.  In July I became Dutch XCO champion in the Masters category. After that I rode my first multiple stage race in Poland.  I loved it, although it was very hard. Then in September I participated in the Crocodile Trophy, which was my big goal for 2017. I finished third overall, and won in the Masters category and I managed to win a stage, even beating the elite riders! I was very proud! Following the Crocodile Trophy Maikel Govaarts [an accomplished Dutch Masters’ XCO mountain biker and 2016 Absa Cape Epic finisher] asked me to ride with him in the 2018 Absa Cape Epic” Dekker continued.

“This year winners, Cadel Evans and George Hincapie, proved that there is a big competition in the Masters category. And that is what I like; competition, fight, race! Our goal is to be competitive in the Masters category and compete for a podium. We are also looking forward to battling with the 1996 Olympic Champion Bart Brentjes, a MTB legend in my home country Holland” he concluded.

While Dekker has been retired since 2006, van den Broeck has only just hung up his road racing cleats. Having announced his intension to retire at the end of the 2017 season, the Belgian is moving into a new phase in his life. But like Dekker his competitive spirit remains fierce. “Taking part in the Absa Cape Epic was something I have always dreamed of doing after my retirement, because I really love cycling and staying in good shape. My primary goals are to really enjoy the race and the country, because I have been told that South Africa is really beautiful; but I will also be trying for a good result…” van den Broeck smiled.

Taking part with his brother Kurt, van den Broeck is all too aware that the training conditions in Belgium are going to be very different to what they will face in South Africa come March next year. “I really do not have experience in real mountain biking” he confessed. “I do a lot in Belgium, but that is totally different to real racing. That difference makes the challenge so nice. We will build up as well as possible at home, maybe also with some training further south in Europe if we can. But when it is not too cold you can still do good training in Belgium, so I’m sure we will come in top shape to the start of the Absa Cape Epic.”

Van den Broeck was once seen as a potential Grand Tour winner, but a series of injuries meant he never quite fulfilled that potential; though he did race to fourth position in the 2010 Tour de France. His all-round ability honed first as a general classification contender and then as a super domestic for Steven Kruijswijk at LotoNL Jumbo makes van den Broeck a potentially powerful mountain bike stage racer. Just how he and his brother will fair in the elite category next year remains to be seen though. At just 34 years of age, and given Christoph Sauser and Karl Platt’s Absa Cape Epic success into their late thirties, van den Broeck could well be quietly building towards success off road.

Team Giant’s Rohan Du Plooy takes the win at a wet Medihelp Stellenbosch Cycle Tour

 Team Giant’s Rohan Du Plooy took the win at the Medihelp Stellenbosch Cycle Tour this morning in wet racing conditions, finishing the 97km route in 02:16:14, beating Craig Boyes (Specialized) and Dan Craven (Namibia) to the post, who finished in second and third respectively.

Team Giant’s Rohan Du Plooy won the Stellenbosch Cycle Tour in the Western Cape today. Photo: Dan Edwards 

 

Team Giant’s Rohan Du Plooy took the win at the Medihelp Stellenbosch Cycle Tour this morning in wet racing conditions, finishing the 97km route in 02:16:14, beating Craig Boyes (Specialized) and Dan Craven (Namibia) to the post, who finished in second and third respectively.

Liezel Jordaan (Route 62 Cycles) claimed the victory in the women’s race in a time of 02:31:35. Second and third were Katie Lennard (02:31:36) and Lucy James (02:31:38) respectively.

Du Plooy said the pace was fast right from the beginning with attacks taking place throughout the race. There was a break away at Val de Vie and with the help of his team mates Du Plooy was able to successfully drive to the finish.

Jordaan explained that the women’s race was a bit different with the women sticking in a bunch for most of the race and a sprint to the finish taking place right near the end.

Over five thousand cyclists lined up on a wet Sunday morning in Stellenbosch to take part in the second biggest road race in the Western Cape and the final premier seeding event for the 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour.

Director of Marketing, Media and Sponsorship for the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, organisers of the Medihelp Stellenbosch Cycle Tour, David Bellairs said, “Despite the weather conditions prevailing on the day, a large number cyclists turned out for the Medihelp Stellenbosch Cycle Tour. Our thanks goes out to the intrepid cyclists who braved the rain to participate in the 2017 edition. To our sponsors, Medihelp, on behalf of the cyclists and organisers thank you for a great event.”

Heyn van Rooyen, Medihelp Medical Scheme’s Principal Officer says, “It’s a privilege for the Scheme to be associated with a challenging race and meeting of like-minded health conscious participants who share Medihelp’s passion for a healthy lifestyle.”

  

97km Race Results

Elite Men 1st: Rohan Du Plooy (Team Giant) (02:16:14)

Elite Men 2nd: Craig Boyes (Specialized) (02:16:38)

Elite Men 3rd: Dan Craven (Namibia) (02:17:01)

Elite Ladies 1st: Liezel Jordaan (Route 62 Cycles) (02:31:35)

Elite Ladies 2nd: Katie Lennard (The Gear Change) (02:31:36)

Elite Ladies 3rd: Lucy James (02:31:38)

Team Active Bodies wins 25th Coronation Double Century in record time

 The team of Active Bodies won the 2017 Coronation Double Century over 202km in a new record time of 04:30:12.

 

“That’s what we came here to do,” commented a visibly elated Clint Hendricks after the finish.

“I don’t know why I keep doing it,” he added. “it’s always really tough.”

 The team of Active Bodies won the 2017 Coronation Double Century over 202km in a new record time of 04:30:12.

 

“That’s what we came here to do,” commented a visibly elated Clint Hendricks after the finish.

“I don’t know why I keep doing it,” he added. “it’s always really tough.”

 

Alfa Bodyworks, the 2016 runners-up, featuring Nolan Hoffman, Shaun-Nick Bester, HB Kruger and Shameeg Salie finished second in a time of 4:38:48, with Team Mad Macs pb häzz– who rode a surprisingly spectacular race – rounding off the podium.

 

The men’s race in the world’s largest team time trial lived up to the pre-race hype with all the big guns going hard from the start. Alfa Bodyworks looked like early favourites. However, they, along with Freewheel Cycology Racing and Hot Chillee seemed to hemorrhage riders early on, due to punctures and early fatigue. They however managed to keep it together to have the required six of their 12 riders finish, but it was Active Bodies who was ahead at every time check. 

 

According to Hendricks the team – which included African Champion Willie Smit and captained by Bradley Potgieter – rode faster in 2017 despite not having as many ‘name’ pros. “We were a lot smoother than last year. We had 11 guys until about 25km to go and only lost guys because of the punctures.”

 

Conditions were perfect for racing early on, cloudy and cool through Buffeljagsrivier and up into Tradouw Pass, the first real test of the route, however temperatures soon became an issue as riders got onto the R62.

 

It was hot and windy,” Hendricks said, definitely hotter and windier than last year – it was just a long, hard grind and its going to be a long day for the back markers,” he concluded.

 

The women’s category was dominated by pre-race favourites, Tiletoria Train. The team, including Bianca Holtzkampf, Hazel MacGill, Susan Melmed, Maroesjka Matthee and Desiree Strydom never held back and had a healthy lead at all of the check points.

 

The hotly contested Mixed division was taken out by Design in Motion, with Hotchillee Mixed in second. Design in Motion came with some serious firepower, featuringCashandra Slingerland, Desray Sebregts, pro riders Myles van Musschenbroek and Richard Baxter.

 

Aside from the unique competitive nature of the racing element, the event is a favourite on the calendar among fun riders – for who it really caters. The camaraderie, scenery and big endurance challenge is what draws them, with the post-race carnival atmosphere in town the perfect way to finish it off.

 

This is our 11th year with the Double Century,” commented Coronation portfolio manager, Neville Chester, who once again completed the race himself. We love the event, it really is a signature event, I don’t think there is anything quite like it – in terms of the distance and nature – in the country,” he said. 

 

“The team nature of the event also ties in with Coronation’s philosophy of teamwork. It was a fantastic day out there,” he said of his ride. “It was a beautiful day with the weather really playing along. There was also a great vibe out on route and, like all good teams, I managed to surround myself with people who made me look good.”

 

The Coronation Double Century is a Pedal Power Association event organised by the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust on their behalf. For event-related queries, please contact the Events Office on 087 820 7223 during office hours.

 

RESULTS:

Men

1Active Bodies 04:30:12

2. Alpha Bodyworks 4:38:48

3. Mad Macs pb häzz 4:40:24

 

Women

1. Tiletoria Train 5:38:45

2. Peak Peloton 7:09:13

3. RoadCover WCT 7:51:11

 

Mixed

1. Design in Motion Storck 5:04:41

2. Hot Chillee Mixed 5:08:18

3. Laurium 5:20:44

Who to watch at the Coronation Double Century 2017 this weekend

If it’s November, and it’s cycling, it must be Coronation Double Century time. For the majority of the 3 200 riders, this 202km team event is a test of endurance and friendship, but for a few teams, it is all about the win.

If it’s November, and it’s cycling, it must be Coronation Double Century time. For the majority of the 3 200 riders, this 202km team event is a test of endurance and friendship, but for a few teams, it is all about the win.

 

The seeding system the event uses ensures the slowest teams start first (at an eyelid-cracking 5am), and the potential winners two-and-a-half hours later. So everyone gets to see the pros power by.

 

Who should we be looking out for?

 

The Men’s race should boil down to a five-horse gallop, if the seeding indices are to be believed. The bookies’ favourites will surely be the Active Bodies outfit, with the likes of African Champion Willie Smit, 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour winner Clint Hendricks and a handful of other top pros lining up alongside the 2016 runners-up, Alfa Bodyworks. This Cape-based team has another Cycle Tour champ, Nolan Hoffman, headlining with fellow pros Shaun-Nick Bester, HB Kruger and Shameeg Salie in the ranks, but comes with possibly a little more strength in depth, and rode pretty much as-is last year. In this event, team work is critical, so that could be a deciding factor, something the other top-five shoo-ins will be looking to capitalise on in the absence of World-Tour firepower: Hotchillee (Dan Halksworth, Luthando Kaka, Luke Hardiman), Bluff Meat Supply (Andreas Studer, Sean Merredew) and Freewheel Cycology (Christoff van Heerden, Shan Wilson, Jarryd Hayley, James Tennent and Charles Keey, with a guest rider who might look startlingly like Olympic Omnium Gold Medallist Elia Viviani) will be hoping for perfect tactics and the best of luck as they take on the big-name teams. One slip-up, though and there is a full peloton of challengers in the wings: The Misfits, Demacon, 04:55 Club, Proconics ASG and Mad Macs pb häzz will all be ready to pounce.

 

The Women’s division is sure to be dominated by the Tiletoria Train. Bianca Holtzkampf, Hazel MacGill, Susan Melmed, Maroesjka Matthee and Desiree Strydom lead a team of experienced CDC riders, and with the majority of the established names on the women’s racing circuit being absorbed into the highly-competitive Mixed category, they will surely triumph over the Road Cover outfit.

 

The Mixed trophy is often more hotly contested than the Men’s, as team sponsors seek the best value out of what has become one of South Africa’s premier road events. 2017 will be no different, with Design in Motion, Hotchillee Mixed and RRAV dicing for the win, closely watched by the Enervit and Edenglen outfits (if our seeding gurus have pushed the right buttons). Design in Motion carries some serious firepower; a resurgent Cashandra Slingerland, Desray Sebregts and Sam Sanders will be joined by pro riders Myles van Musschenbroek and Richard Baxter, as well as a gaggle of Joburg hardmen. Will they have enough to hold off the might and class of former Paris-Roubaix winner Magnus Backstedt, ably assisted by Lise Bryer, Nadia Visser, Catherine and Alma Colyn, Lucy James and a small group of Cape Town’s bravest vet riders? We shall see. They, in turn, will need to watch for the RRAV squad, which has some particularly strong male riders to support the likes of Zanri Rossouw, Elmari de Wet and Janice Venter. Team Enervit has a more rounded look to it – with all 12 riders similar in seeding, in support of Tess Mackeurtan, Sam Kristiansen and Natalie Bounds, as does the Edenglen squad, with Chiara di Siena, Vivien Sa Joe, Lauren Walker and Adele Ambrose looking to some top team work to keep them in the hunt.

 

The Coronation Double Century differs from a ‘normal’ road race in that a team’s time is decided by the sixth rider to cross the finish line. Factor in the Charles Milner Medal, which is awarded to each full team of 12 riders that finishes within 10 minutes of the team’s first rider (inside the allocated 10 and a half hours), and even at the sharp end of the field it is tough to call; many squads opt for the full-finish rather than sacrificing a rider to finish a few minutes faster. This shouldn’t affect the podium contenders, who will burn out the workers in the search for glory, but there are a few teams who will be giving it a full go for a competitive 12-rider finish.

Gary Kirsten and John Smit share training and fitness tips as they prepare for the Absa Cape Epic

Enjoyment at the Absa Cape Epic comes through preparation and taking no shortcuts for Gary Kirsten, the former South African cricketer, who will take part in Africa’s Untamed African MTB Race for the third time in 2018.

Enjoyment at the Absa Cape Epic comes through preparation and taking no shortcuts for Gary Kirsten, the former South African cricketer, who will take part in Africa’s Untamed African MTB Race for the third time in 2018.

 

Kirsten, who will be one of the famous sports stars and celebrities riding for Team Land Rover, has been doing most of his training on Table Mountain, where the Cape Epic will start with a Prologue on 18 March. The 20km of the opening day of the race will see participants climb 600-metres in just 20km, taking in the lung-busting climb to Dead Man’s Tree.

 

“I certainly know every riding trail that exists on Table Mountain but I’m not sure that will help on race day,” said Kirsten. “There are some fairly steep sections but I can’t think of a better place to start the Absa Cape Epic in 2018. It’s an iconic African landmark.”

 

The Absa Cape Epic last visited Table Mountain in 2015, and this, the 15th edition of the race, will take the riders along 658km of some of the Western Cape’s most beautiful and challenging terrain, with 13 530m of climbing, including four consecutive days of over 100km. Kirsten is a relative newcomer to the sport, having only begun mountain biking three years ago. With his team sponsoring the Land Rover Technical Terrain sections; where riders’ skills, capability and composure will be tested on tricky descents or challenging single-track , of which the first is the steep descent down Plum Pudding, the former opening batsman has been getting in some skills training, working on his cornering and descending. Even though this will be his third Epic, he has been taking nothing for granted.

 

“There are no short cuts to getting oneself prepared enough to enjoy the event, which is my goal. My training will not change much, I love getting onto the mountain as regularly as possible. I try do between eight to 10 hours of riding a week, with at least two weekend multi-stage races included in my training for the Absa Cape Epic. It’s about getting time in the saddle and doing as much climbing as I can find. I have not done any gym training, but try and go for a run every now and then. I do think running helps when you have limited time,” smiled Kirsten.

Kirsten, who guided India to victory in the 2011 World Cup, was regarded as patient, calm and wise, imparting advice when it was most needed. His advice to first-time riders of the Epic was the same that he received before he made his debut.

 

“My best advice based on my experience would be to ride as regularly as you can, even if it is not long distance. Train the hills wherever you can find them. Try find the balance between a normal existence and training, you don’t have to be obsessive about it,” said Kirsten. “Like I said, I really want to enjoy it and become part of the Amabubesi club.”

 

Kirsten and his Cape Epic partner and friend, Roddy van Breda, will take part in stage races in the Western Cape as part of their build-up, a vital part of establishing a riding partnership to see them through the eight days.

 

John Smit, the former Springbok captain who is also part of Team Land Rover, believed that balance was the key to successful training for the Cape Epic. This will be Smit’s fifth Absa Cape Epic, a journey he began in 2014 with the race becoming an integral part of life. “As a professional sportsman, you have the daily routine and the buzz of training and playing matches, and a lot of us miss that when we retire,” said Smit. “As a rugby player, you have strength in your legs and body, and stamina to see you through a match, but this is different training, a new challenge. That’s what sport should be – a new challenge all the time, and the Epic gives us that.”

PYGA Euro Steel 1 and Meerendal CBC crowned 2017 FNB W2W MTB Race Champions

PYGA Euro Steel 1’s Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys claimed their second stage victory and the overall Champions Title after Stage Three of the FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) MTB Race at Onrus Caravan Park on Sunday, 05 November 2017.

PYGA Euro Steel 1’s Matthys Beukes and Philip Buys claimed their second stage victory and the overall Champions Title after Stage Three of the FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) MTB Race at Onrus Caravan Park on Sunday, 05 November 2017.

“It’s not often that things work out according to plan,” says Beukes.  “Going into the stage, we knew that we would have to do something at the 40km mark.  We sat on the wheels a bit up the drag, and then increased our pace.  It’s been a great year.  We couldn’t be happier about our win.”

“This is my first W2W win,” admits Buys.  “Everything worked out well over the three days.  W2W is a great race to end the season off with.”

PYGA Euro Steel 1 completed Stage Three in an impressive time of 02 hours 30 minutes 08 seconds.  They claimed the overall victory (after three days of racing) in a combined time of 07 hours 59 minutes 48 seconds over the 210km distance (three stages combined).

Team Investec-Songo.info’s Konny Looser and Christoph Sauser claimed the second spot on the podium, while Team NAD Pro MTB’s Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell finished third.

“I expected this to be the result,” admits Sauser.  “I had to dig deep the first two days, and just didn’t have the base.  The best team definitely won.  They deserve it.”

“I enjoyed the weekend’s racing,” says Looser.  “There was a big fight on route today.  It’s been super exciting.  It’s always nice riding with Christoph.   Team PYGA were clever in their riding strategy.  They definitely deserve the win.  W2W has been great.  The route was awesome.”

“It’s always nice fishing at the sea,” says Bell.  “W2W is a really enjoyable race.  Now we plan to reset and hopefully have a good year in 2018.”

In the women’s race Stage Three was claimed by Team Dormakaba’s Candice Lill and Vera Adrian.

Team Meerendal CBC’s Jennie Stenerhag and Adelheid Morath pipped Team Valencia Ladies’ Samantha Sanders and Amy Mcdougall to the finish claiming the 2nd and 3rd spots on the podium respectively for the stage.

Team Meerendal CBC’s remarkable efforts over the three days however secured them the coveted title of 2017 FNB W2W MTB Champions in the women’s race.  Team Meerendal CBC completed three days of racing in a deserving combined time of 09 hours 15 minutes 52 seconds.

“It feels great to end the year off with a win,” says Stenerhag.  “Although we had a good lead going into Stage Three, we knew that with mountain biking anything can happen.  We did what we could today, but I didn’t have anything left on the climbs.  I’ve taken part in W2W six times.  I love the trails.  This is definitely the best event that I’ve ever taken part in.  The Prize Money has also done a lot for women’s racing.  W2W is an awesome way to end the season.”

“W2W is a great event,” says Morath.  “I really enjoyed it and am happy to be here.”

Team Dormakaba’s Candice Lill and Vera Adrian claimed second place, with Team Valencia Ladies’ Samantha Sanders and Amy Mcdougall rounding off the podium after three days of racing.

“We had a really good start,” says Lill.  “We knew that it was important to get to the front to reach the single track first.  Once in the single track we pushed the pace.  We had a positive race and are happy with today.  It was a fantastic way to close off our partnership.”

“We worked on our master plan last night,” laughs Adrian.  “It worked perfectly today.  We stayed in front.  I was able to ride my pace and we gave it our all on the climbs.  W2W is a partner race.  We definitely rode as a team.”

“Our plan was to do our best,” says Sanders.  “You can only go as hard as the body allows.   Our effort was good enough for third place.  The event has been awesome.  W2W really is incredible.  The trails are immaculate.”

“I need to work on my sprinting skill,” laughs Mcdougall.  “There was a lot of pain, but W2W was a lot of fun.”

It was a hat-trick stage victory for husband and wife duo Martin and Jeannie Dreyer of Team Merchants.  They firmly secured the title of Mixed Team Champions in a combined time of 09 hours 57 minutes 21 seconds.

“I’m chuffed that we were able to claim three stage victories,” says Jeannie.  “We definitely don’t train the intensity for this type of race.  I guess it just shows that our heads are in it.  W2W is a magic, gem of an event.  It’s slick, neat and clean.  There’s no suffering or discomfort.  It’s a real treat.”

Team SAICA’s Ila and Darryn Stow claimed the second spot on the podium after three days of racing, while Team Coach1/Globe Flight’s Ian Martin and Louise Ferreira finished third.

The second and last destination stage of the FNB W2W MTB Race, Stage Three started at the Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw) and finished at the Onrus Caravan Park.  The route boasted with 71km of spectacular-mountain biking and featured a 1200m ascent.  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-Onrus Beach Crossing and the PERI-Onrus river crossing to name just a few.

“We are delighted to see local and international participants continuing to appreciate what South Africa has to offer, through this incredible event. We would like to congratulate every single cyclist that took part this year, most specifically, the champions of the three stages who have earned their titles in what has been a challenging FNB W2W MTB Race. We are proud to be associated with this event and are looking forward to being a part of its growth year on year,” said Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO FNB Business.

PRIZE PURSE:  The 2017 FNB W2W MTB Race boasted an impressive Prize Purse of R417 000.  For a complete Prize Purse Breakdown visit https://wines2whales.co.za/rider-info/#the-fnb-wines2whales-mtb-prize-purse-488

FNB W2W MTB Race attracts an impressive elite field

Excitement builds as an elite field of mountain bikers (local and from abroad) prepare to take on the 9th annual FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) Mountain Bike (MTB) Race that will start at Lourensford Wine Estate (Somerset West) on Friday, 03 November 2017.

Excitement builds as an elite field of mountain bikers (local and from abroad) prepare to take on the 9th annual FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) Mountain Bike (MTB) Race that will start at Lourensford Wine Estate (Somerset West) on Friday, 03 November 2017.

 

Top teams to look for will include:  Swiss contenders Christoph Sauser with Konny Looser (Investec-Songo), Gawie Combrinck with Nico Bell (NAD Pro MTB), Matthys Beukes with Philip Buys (PYGA Euro Steel 1), Waylon Woolcock with HB Kruger (Team BCX), Alan Hatherly with Matthew Beers (Team Spur/RED-E), Phillimon Sebona with Julien Jessop (PYGA Euro Steel 2), Robyn de Groot with Sabine Spitz of Germany (Team Ascendis Health), Ariane Lüthi and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Team Spur), Vera Adrian with Candice Lill (Dormakaba) and Cherise Willeit with Vicky van der Merwe (Team Squirt) to mention just a few.

Team Investec-SongoIt’s been three years since Christoph Sauser and Konny Looser claimed gold at the FNB W2W MTB Race (2014). Undoubtedly both riders will be hoping for a repeat performance in 2017.

“The characteristic route, racing action, vibe and of course raising funds for songo.info are what attract me to W2W,” says Sauser.  “I enjoy all three stages because they are very different from each other.  That’s why I love the entire route package. Konny and I make a well balanced team and we both like to win.”

 

According to Looser, W2W is his favorite SA event.  “It has a nice format and super nice routes.  I enjoy the second stage.  It’s fast and features a lot of single track.  Our team strategy will be less thinking and more dirt.  I’d really like to win my third W2W Race. ”

 

Team NAD Pro MTB“W2W is a great race with awesome trails,” says Combrinck.  “I enjoy the third stage the most.  I’ve always had a good race on the last day.  Our goal is to win.”

 

Nico Bell echoes his team mates sentiments, “I enjoy Stage Three the most.  We’re going to the sea.  Our team strategy will be to hang tight, wait for opportunities and then go flat out.”

 

Team PYGA Euro Steel 1“W2W is a nice event to end the season off with,” says Beukes.  “The trails are good and the vibe is chilled.  I must admit, the good prize purse is also a draw card.”

 

“My favorite trails are featured during Stage Two,” says Buys.  “Our team strength is our technical abilities and mental strength.  We’ll ride offensively, while keeping it smooth and fast.  We’d love to end off the season with a final victory.”

 

Team BCX:  “I enjoy the awesome trails and great event hospitality,” says Woolcock.  “Stage Two is my favorite stage because it has the most single track.  Our team strength will be consistency, while keeping it positive will be our strategy.”

 

“I enjoy Stage One the most,” says Kruger.  “This stage is unpredictable and the portage gives it a very different dynamic.  I am looking forward to mingling with mates after a tough day in the saddle.  Our goal is to finish on the top step of the podium after three days of racing.”

 

 

 

Team Spur/RED-E“I’ve heard that W2W has incredible single track and awesome racing,” says Hatherly“I had serious FOMO last year following the race on Twitter.  Looking at the route profiles, I think that Stage One would probably be the most fun.  Our goal is to be on the overall GC podium.”

 

“W2W was the first big stage race that I did when I first started mountain biking,” says Beers.  “Stage Two is awesome.  It’s really technical and fast.  It should suit us nicely.  There’s going to be quite a few strong teams this year.  I suspect our toughest competition will come from Team PYGA Euro Steel 1 and Team Investec-Songo.”

 

Team PYGA Euro Steel 2:  “Jullien and I would like to finish in the top field,” says Sebona.   “Most of the top names will be on the start line.  Our strategy will be to work together.  Racing won’t be easy, but we are looking forward to it.”

 

Team Ascendis Health:  “Sabine and I make a great team,” says de Groot.  “We race well together.  As professional athletes we will obviously focus on stage wins, with the overall victory a major objective.  I am really looking forward to sharing this awesome race with Sabine who will be racing it for the first time.”

 

“I’ve heard a lot of good things about W2W,” says Spitz.  “I’ve been told that there is a lot of cool single track and that the routes are really scenic.  I’ve also heard about suspension bridges.  I’m looking forward to being showered with champagne and swimming with the whales.”

 

Team SpurAccording to Lüthi, W2W is one of SA’s greatest stage races.  “The route and the organisation of the event are absolutely top class.  Of course the Spur burger that’s waiting for us at the end of each stage is a huge drawcard.  Stage Two is a lot of fun. The hills and overall stage are just short enough to keep the suffer level at bay so that one can truly enjoy all the fantastic single tracks which Oak Valley is known for.”

 

“Stage One is my favorite stage because it starts with a climb,” says Moolman Pasio.  “Climbing is definitely my biggest strength on the mountain bike.  It also helps if I can get a head start into the single track.  Being a roadie I’m not particularly fast in the single track.  This will be the first time that I race in the Elite Women’s Category at W2W.  I’m looking forward to the challenge and know that I will be in good hands with Ariane as my partner and Team Spur as my support crew.”

 

Team Dormakaba:  “It’s the wine and great time had with friends that attract me to W2W,” says Adrian.  “All three stages are equally great.  You get to enjoy the trails without traffic and indulge in yummy Food Lovers Market treats at the water points.  Our goal will be to have the best last race together no matter the outcome.”

 

Team Squirt:  Cherise Willeit has completed four W2W’s events.  “The scenery is definitely a big highlight,” says Willeit.  “I love the atmosphere of W2W and how it brings all types of cyclists together. It’s an event where you get to mingle with everyone. The food has always been absolutely superb.  Vicky and I will ride to have fun and make memories.  My advice to MTB newcomers is to take it easy.  It’s important to pace correctly and to leave something in the tank for the last stage.”

Cape Epic Announces Acquisition of Wines2Whales

Cape Epic (Pty) Ltd announced today that the company has agreed to acquire the FNB Wines2Whales®
 
 
The news comes shortly before the commencement of the ninth edition of this alluring yet testing event, held annually in the Western Cape. 

Cape Epic (Pty) Ltd announced today that the company has agreed to acquire the FNB Wines2Whales®
The news comes shortly before the commencement of the ninth edition of this alluring yet testing event, held annually in the Western Cape.
With only two days to go before the start of the 2017 edition, director Michael Meyer says, “We are really proud of what our team has achieved in nine years, establishing an event that is viewed as the premier three-day mountain bike stage race. The four founding partners of the event, Hendrico Burger, Dezroy Poole, Johan Kriegler and I, along with our long-standing title sponsor, FNB, have enjoyed every step of the journey, and look forward to a new era for the event under new ownership.”
Johan Kriegler and Hendrico Burger, both Wines2Whales directors, have a deep knowledge of the local terrain and have nurtured strong relationships with partners and the racing community. Both stay on to lead the event into the future.
Johan Kriegler, who conceived of the route more than 10 years ago, says, “Now we are a big mountain biking family, with all the related benefits – support, shared expertise – and we are part of a larger movement to get more riders on their bikes, off-road, worldwide.”
The 2017 edition of the FNB Wines2Whales kicks off at Lourensford in Somerset West, hosts riders at Oak Valley Wine Estate, and finishes in the seaside resort of Onrus. The inaugural event in 2009 hosted 300 riders in the Elgin Valley and the following year attracted an impressive field of 1,100 riders, with 300 on the waiting list. It fast became a target race on local and international riders’ calendars and entries were in such high demand that the race was extended to include three consecutive events (Adventure, Ride and Race). Four thousand athletes participate in what is now one of the largest 3-day mountain bike stage races in the world.
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