Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss got the inaugural FNB Wines2Whales Switchback Chardonnay Race off to a winning start on Friday, 05 November 2021. As a result, the Faces Rola pair take a 4 minute and 10 second lead, over Fairtree and Galileo Infiniti SPOT, into Saturday’s second stage.

The FNB Wines2Whales Switchback event, which takes riders from Onrus to Lourensford, got underway with the Chardonnay women’s race on Friday. Though the event is open for all riders, the prize money is paid out exclusively to the Elite and age group women. On Stage 1, Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss took the first step towards the R100 000 winners’ purse by racing to stage victory.

Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales

The Faces Rola team overcame an early hiccup, when Lill had to stop to remove grass from her drivetrain on the La Vierge stairs singletrack, to power to a 4 minute and 10 second advantage on the opening stage.

“It’s really, really, cool to be back at the FNB Wines2Whales” Lill smiled, from the Oak Valley race village after the 66-kilometre-long opening stage. “It’s been quite a while, two years actually. It was a good day today, but also harder riding the route as a Switchback, than the last day of FNB W2W usually is. You needed a lot of power to get over the open climbs today.”

From left: Amy McDougall, Jennie Stenerhag, Mariske Strauss, Candice Lill, Kim Le Court and Mari Rabie on the podium after Stage 1 of  the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales

“I felt like I needed some time to get my body going this morning” Jennie Stenerhag, of Fairtree, confessed. “After about an hour I got into the race and then Amy [McDougall] and I were able to gradually reel Kim le Court and Mari Rabie in. We had them in our sights for a while but caught them with about 10km to race. I’m really happy we were then able to take second place in the sprint.”

Having lost out in the sprint for second, the Galileo Infiniti SPOT women will be looking to utilise their fast start on Stage 2 to move up on the stage and general classification standings on Saturday.

“I loved it, we went hard in the beginning and just gave it our all” Le Court retold. “Mari [Rabie] and I really suited each other as teammates. It’s my first-time taking part in the FNB Wines2Whales and I loved the opening stage, even though I was starting to get a bit tired towards the end. But hopefully tomorrow we can do a better sprint or maintain our speed throughout the stage for a better position.”

Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales

In the women’s age group categories, the opening stage was won by the Woolworths Pretty Pedal and Tiletoria Ladies in the Sub-Veterans and Veterans categories. Fienie Barnard and Hanlie Booyens were particularly impressive, clocking a time 17 minutes faster than the younger women’s category winner’s time.

The Switchback route of FNB Wines2Whales Stage 2 features 63 kilometres of racing, with 1 500 metres of elevation gain. Starting and finishing at Oak Valley, the course takes in some of Elgin’s most famous trails, including JK’s Edge, Sounds of Silence, Rietvlei Magic, and the Kromco Playpark. The racing starts at 07:00 and can be followed on www.wines2whales.com; or on the event’s social media handles @wines_2_whales, on Instagram, and @w2wmtb, on Twitter.

FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay leading results:

Stage 1 | Elite Women

  1. Faces Rola: Candice Lill & Mariske Strauss (3:05:56)
  2. Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Amy McDougall (3:10:06 | +4:10)
  3. Galileo Infiniti SPOT: Kim le Court & Mari Rabie (3:10:07 | + 4:11)

Stage 1 | Sub-Veteran Women

  1. Woolworths Pretty Pedal: Nicola Walker & Kate Slegrova (3:48:23)
  2. Computer Mania Ladies: Almari de Milander & Su-Mari Visser (4:07:03.3 | +18:40)
  3. Rehidrat Sport: Claudia Schonitz & Diane Obree (4:37:32.3 | +49:09)

Stage 1 | Veteran Women

  1. Titletoria Ladies: Fienie Barnard & Hanlie Booyens (3:31:57.8)
  2. J&M Masters Ladies: Jane Seggie & Michelle Lombardi (3:43:35.6 | +11:38)
  3. Carlissa: Lisa Czepek & Carli Cooke (3:51:17.5 | +19:20)

GALLERY

Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Riders during Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Amy McDougall (right) and Jennie Stenerhag sprint to second place on Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
Mariske Strauss (left) and Candice Lill celebrate winning Stage 1 of the 2021 FNB Wine2Whales Chardonnay event. | Photo: Nick Muzik/FNB Wines2Whales
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