Women's MTB wins at the W2W Chardonnay

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Fresh from their Cape Epic experience, Lill and Strauss dominated the W2W Chardonnay from Hermanus to Lourensford. (Photo: Nick Muzik)
Fresh from their Cape Epic experience, Lill and Strauss dominated the W2W Chardonnay from Hermanus to Lourensford. (Photo: Nick Muzik)
  • With a reverse routing this year, South Africa's most popular three-day stage race has put a spin on its proven trails.
  • The first of three Wines2Whales events will hopefully set the tone for a great ending to the resumed South African mountain bike racing calendar.
  • And there’s a fantastic new trail section guiding riders home, to the Lourensford finish.

Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill wrapped up the FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay victory with their third stage win on the event's final day. 

The third and final stage of the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay event saw the women who started the day in the various category leaders' jerseys maintain their overall leads. 

This meant that Faces Rola, Woolworths Pretty Pedal and the Titletoria Ladies rode home winners in the elite-, sub-veteran- and veterans women's categories.

The W2W usually routes out of Somerset-West, into Elgin. But the reverse route, meant a very steep walk down, on stage 3 (Photo: Nick Muzik)

From second place at the Cape Epic...

Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill were the real heroines of the event, storming to a perfect three-from-three stage wins. An impressive performance, after having finished second overall in the women's category, at the Cape Epic. 

"We hadn't really planned to get away so early," Lill recounted of the move which earned them stage honours on the final day. 

"We were kind of just rolling along and Mariske [Strauss] just decided to go. And I was like 'okay we're going'! From the Eikenhof Dam we rode our pace and managed to extend our overall lead. It was a great day. In fact, I think it was my favourite of the three days." 

Speed and balance were tricky dynamics to manage, down the compulsory portage (Photo: Nick Muzik)

Getting down the portage - quickly

The Faces Rola team used the Gantouw Pass in particular to extend their advantage. "We had a tailwind coming into the portage" Strauss explained with a smile.

"I dismounted cyclocross style, with a bit too much speed, and had to run it out to stay upright. With the tailwind that momentum, just carried me down the pass." Behind Strauss and Lill the Fairtree team of Amy McDougall and Jennie Stenerhag were second for the third time. 

"We had a nice dice with Kim [le Court] and Mari [Rabie] throughout FNB Wines2Whales" McDougall stated. "I'm glad we were able to establish a 90-second advantage on Stage 2 because it would have been very stressful sprinting for second on the general classification today."

Dirty but having a great time. The W2W trails offer a very rewarding rider experience (Photo: Sam Clark)

Girls want to have fun

"When I started cycling, as a 10-year-old, there were so few girls riding that I was the u/12 boys' time trial champion," laughed Mari Rabie.

"So, to be able to now take part in a women's only mountain bike race is very special."

"I really appreciate what FNB Wines2Whales and Woolworths have done in creating this event for us. I'm sure that even for the non-elite women it made a massive difference to their enjoyment of the event." 

Some of the veteran women, powered up the A-to-Z climb, from Elgin (Photo: Nick Muzik)

Strong female riders - everywhere

Nicola Walker and Kate Slegrova won the sub-veteran's category. The Woolworths Pretty Pedal team won all three stages with Almari de Milander and Su-Mari Visser finishing second, ahead of Claudia Schonitz and Diane Obree. 

In the Dimension Data Veteran women's race the Titletoria Ladies, Fienie Barnard and Hanlie Booyens were in imperious form. They won all three stages and set a faster time than the younger sub-veterans category winners.

Barnard and Booyens were joined on the overall category podium by Jane Seggie and Michelle Lombardi, as well as Jeanie De Villiers and Marleen Lourens.

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