Looser and Giger put down the hammer from the start of Stage Three at Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw), resulting in a lightning fast Stage Three finishing time of 02 hours 38 minutes 44 seconds.
According to Looser, the plan was to go out hard from the start. “We were here to win,” says Looser. “The stage was perfect for us. We made our break on the long downhill section after the Houw Hoek Inn. We just put down the hammer, kept our own pace and made up time. It’s lovely to be crowned the overall W2W Champions. We had some bad luck during the first stage, but the best team won today.”
“Everything went according to plan,” says Giger. “We had an amazing day. The legs felt good and we had no mechanical issues. I really enjoyed the race. The trails, venue and people are really nice. It was three days of really good racing.”
Although the leading team going into Stage Three, Investec-Songo-Specialized’s Christoph Sauser and Sam Gaze had to settle for an overall 8th place stage finish. “It was just one of those days,” says Gaze. “I didn’t have the legs. Sauser really looked after me. Although we didn’t have a good stage, I absolutely loved the weekend. This is my favorite stage race that I’ve done so far. I am hoping to do more in the future.”
“We had three days of awesome riding,” says Sauser. “W2W is challenging, but it’s not too hard. I love it.”
Team Telkom’s Hendrik Kruger and Johann Rabie secured the second spot on the podium after three days of racing, while Team NAD Pro MTB’s Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell finished third.
Team Ascendis Health’s Robyn De Groot and Jennie Stenerhag secured their second stage victory and the overall Women’s Champions Title on the day. “Today was awesome,” says Stenerhag. “We had a good race. Robyn and I have been riding together for three years. W2W was a fantastic race to close off the season.”
“The year has had some good ups and some taxing downs,” says De Groot. “W2W is a super way to finish our last race. It’s a fantastic event that just keeps improving. It’s still one of my favourites.”
Team Ascendis Health’s completed Stage Three in 03 hours 02 minutes 38 seconds, taking their combined finishing time for three days of racing to 09 hours 14 minutes 38 seconds.
Team Spur’s Ariane Kleinhans and Cherie Redecker placed second on the day and second overall after three days of racing. “I suffered on the long flats in the beginning,” says Redecker. “Ariane did a great job motivating me. I got my mojo back at the single track at water point two.”
“It was super cool riding with Cherie,” says Kleinhans. “Having worked on the event in the past, Cherie was just getting cheers from everyone along the route. This shows the type of person that she is. Everyone loves her. It also just proves that it’s not all about the money, but rather about the experience.”
Team Dormakaba Time Freight’s Candice Neethling and Vera Adrian secured the third spot on the podium after three days of racing.
Team Merchants’ Martin and Jeannie Dreyer secured their third stage victory in 03 hours 20 minutes and their overall Mixed Team Champion’s Title in a combined time of 10 hours 51 seconds.
According to Martin, W2W is an incredible event. “We were really treated well at this event and I got to spend time with a loved one. All three stages are just so different. I absolutely loved it.”
Team SAICA Global Asp’s Ila Stow and Marc Wells secured the second spot on the podium after three days of racing, while Team CFP CYCLETEC Mixed Genevieve Weber and Nichol Jordaan finished third.
Stage Three, the final destination stage, kicked off at the beautiful Oak Valley Wine Estate (Elgin-Grabouw). Riders were treated to a 69km route (featuring a 1200m climb) from the winelands to the ocean. 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 Beach Crossing, the PERI river crossing and then finally crossing the finish line by the sea.
“Year after year, the FNB Wines2Whales continues to grow stronger, proving why it is one of the most respected and sought-after MTB events in the South African sporting calendar. This event is aligned to our belief that adventure is the heart of innovation and we are delighted to be in a position to enable this experience for MTB enthusiasts, including our clients. Congratulations to all the participants, especially the winners of the three stages, who went the extra-mile and displayed resilience until the finish line,” said Mike Vacy-Lyle, CEO of FNB Business.