John Smit and Schalk Burger are taking on the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz event in a reunion which brings two of South Africa’s most celebrated Springboks back together. The event is also Burger’s first MTB stage race.

“It reminded me of Test matches, where I used to rely heavily on Schalk to get us out of trouble” Smit puffed on the Oak Valley finish line. “Schalk [Burger] was patient today. It was a long 27 kays to the finish, from the Wildekrans water point, and despite being a stage race beginner he hasn’t even broken a sweat.”

“It was glorious” Burger smiled. “Barny [John Smit] went well today, until right at the end. I think it was the heat that got to the big ginger.”

“Obviously it’s my first race, so I’m heavily reliant on John’s experience. Similar to Test matches” Burger continued. “I have to do a lot of the hard work, still, which is not always fun.”

With both men riding what are surely the longest travel bikes in the race. As such they are looking forward to Saturday’s singletrack filled play day. First though there is the small matter of post-stage recovery. “Beers!” was the unanimous answer of what the plan was, after Stage 1. “Beers and then more beers” Burger reiterated.

The pair are not the only retired rugby stars in the race however. Former Blitz Bok captain, Kyle Brown, is also racing FNB Wines2Whales. Riding in the colours of route partners Land Rover, Brown has teamed up with Clinton Mackintosh.

“We went unnecessarily hard today. Or at least he did” Brown said pointing at Mackintosh with a grin. “Tomorrow will be fun though. I love trail riding and I’m looking forward to Play Day!”