Sealand Gear are a new partner to FNB Wines2Whales. The Cape Town based lifestyle brand shares values with the mountain biking community and sees great potential for upcycling old cycling industry products.

“What we noticed first, upon speaking to the FNB Wines2Whales team and our fellow suppliers, is the shared valued” Sealand Gear CEO Adrian Hewlett stated. “Everyone involved loves the outdoors, is passionate about nature, about maintaining a healthy lifestyle and of course about mountain biking. This ties in perfectly with who we are at Sealand.”

“One of the first things we noticed about an event like FNB Wines2Whales is the vast amount of branding. Branding that has a natural lifespan. At Sealand Gear we pride ourselves on our ability to upcycle fabrics like the wraps which cover the start/finish arch and the start chute” Hewlett explained. “We hope, in the years to come, to turn the old FNB Wines2Whales branding into beautiful backpacks, duffle bags and totes.”

The Sealand team were happy to share in the ‘gees’ of the event and Hewlett rode the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage with Aaron van Schaik as part of Sealand’s collaboration with Ciovita. “It’s the third time I’ve had the pleasure of riding the FNB Wines2Whales” Hewlett revealed. “But I must say I really enjoyed the Switchback route in particular. The views were absolutely fantastic and it was definitely the best of the three editions I’ve done!”

“Aaron and I also stayed in luxury tents, which was also a first for me” he added. “It was definitely worth it and made the riding more pleasurable, having had a better night’s sleep than I managed in the standard tents.”

The Ciovita x Sealand competition is a more equitable representation of the brand’s current collaboration. Cyclists don’t need to be taking part at FNB Wines2Whales to enter the competition even. Click on the image below to enter.

FNB Wines2Whales on the bike apparel partners, Ciovita, create the potential for teams to stand out from the Pinotage peloton. But along with their custom and vinyl ranges the South African kit manufacturer also provides a core range of cycling jerseys, bibs and accessories.

“It’s the fourth year of our partnership with FNB Wines2Whales and the third physical edition we’ve been involved with” Ciovita CEO Andrew Gold said. “Last year we had to settle for a digital edition, so it’s fantastic to be back at Oak Valley in person again. It’s a little tricky recognising everyone behind their masks, but it’s great to reconnect with old friends and so many of our customers.”

“That, for Ciovita, is a big part of the FNB Wines2Whales’ gees! The races also brought us together with Sealand Gear, with whom we currently have a competition running. Entrants don’t have to be participants of FNB Wines2Whales even to stand a chance to win the Ultimate Adventure Hamper worth R10 000⁠” Gold continued.

“FNB Wines2Whales is an iconic event on the South African mountain biking calendar” he added. “And it’s great to see so many people riding in Ciovita products. I’ve noticed a lot of our bibs out on the trails in particular. But also, many of our custom designs and vinyl prints.”

“We launched the vinyl prints about six months ago” Gold explained. “They allow cyclists to choose items from our core range, have their logos or designed etched in vinyl and then heat applied to the garments. Vinyl printing has come a long way in recent years and the durability of the vinyl now matches a screen-printed design. It was particularly cool to see Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss racing to victory, in the Chardonnay race, wearing our vinyl branded jerseys, before they claimed the FNB W2W leader jerseys that we made.”

During the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event, Ciovita and Sealand are being represented by 4 teams out on the trails and many  riders have seen and been impressed by the Ciovita x Sealand collaboration in action!

For FNB Wines2Whales specific Ciovita apparel riders are encouraged to stop by the Merchandise store, in the Oak Valley and Lourensford race villages. The FNB Wines2Whales Merchandise store offers a range of branded products, in addition to the Ciovita and Sealand items. These include Veldskoen shoes and Plakkie flip flops.

The extended Rietvlei Magic singletrack had a new treat in the tail for FNB Wines2Whales Switchback riders in 2021. Rather than skirting the Rietvlei Dam the trail cut across it on a purpose-built trail.

Cape Trails build the majority of the singletracks used by FNB Wines2Whales. But the project of building a 120-metre-long bridge across the Rietvlei Dam was a little beyond their engineering capabilities. Primarily because, the owner of Paul Cluver Wine Estate, Dr Paul Cluver’s vision for the bridge meant that it would be a solid rather than floating bridge.

To ensure it would be built to last and remain above the dam’s high-water level, the farm employed a surveyor to establish the exact height of the bridge, which has been set to slightly above that of the dam wall, some 500 metres away.

With the assistance of Paul Cluver’s machine operators, who skilfully used a digger to hydraulically sink the stanchions of the bridge deep into the dam’s bottom while its level was lower in mid-winter. The deck was then added, perfectly level.

Mid-way across the dam the Paul Cluver and Cape Trails team even built an expansion, complete with a picnic table. While the FNB Wines2Whales riders have been flying by it, carrying speed from the rolling lower slopes of Rietvlei Magic, one can easily imagine stopping there, mid-ride, to take in the spectacular views both across the dam and to the north, towards the Groenlandberg mountain range.

While Paul Cluver led the charge in building the bridge, Cape Trails and Kaap Agri played an important role, too. The agricultural and lifestyle product supplier donated the wood with which the bridge was constructed. By using creosote treated poles and planks it should ensure that FNB Wines2Whales riders will be enjoying the Rietvlei Magic Bridge for years to come.

Ahead of the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales USN became the events’ official Sports’ Nutrition Partner. Along with their Vooma bars and gels the company is providing riders with Energy Oat bars, Epic Pro and VO2 Max energy drinks as well as Pro Recover recovery drink and Cramp Block.

At each FNB Wines2Whales water point, riders are treated to sandwiches, fruit cake and bananas from Woolworths as well as USN’s products. Along with the range of bars and gels USN are providing two energy drink options, allowing riders to pick the product which suits their bodies best.

“With the FNB Wines2Whales forming part of the Epic Series it was an easy decision to get involved with the events” USN founder Albé Geldenhuys. “On a personal level the Epic Series race organisers are great to work with. While from a company point of view the FNB Wines2Whales is a great place to get feedback on our products. The riders who take part here are a little less serious so they have different needs to the riders who take part in the other Epic Series events. The feedback we are getting from them will help us develop our next generation of endurance products.”

“We’ve also just launched the new Vooma electrolyte Energy Mocha Nougat bars” Geldenhuys added. “They contain 70 milligrams of caffeine as well as 105 milligrams of sodium and 43 milligrams of magnesium. I believe USN are first to market with this type of nougat energy bar, which is free of preservatives, colourants and additives. They’re also naturally gluten and dairy free.”

Riders can also look forward to USN’s recovery products on the FNB Wines2Whales finish lines. Along with the Pro Recover drink there are also USN’s Vita C1000 and Winner’s Edge isotonic drinks on offer to aid recovery. While for those looking for an additional caffeine boost, the USN Qhush energy drinks will provide a kick-start to the day’s racing.

 

While the Elite women raced the Chardonnay event and the Elite men, Mixed and Exxaro teams will duke it out in the Shiraz next weekend, the mid-week Pinotage is all about #SeriousGEES. Well, serious gees and an ePowered eBike race.

eBikes are the fastest growing segment in cycling. The NPD Group, an American market research firm, reported a 240% growth in eBike sales for July 2020 to July 2021 compared to the same period two years before. In South Africa, the electric bike market is booming too. With an ever-increasing number of ePowered riders taking to the local trails.

To accommodate the growing number of eBike riders the FNB Wines2Whales added an eBike race to the Pinotage event. The teams are given the choice of either starting ahead of the field and racing full gas, as Max Sullivan and Jason Boulle are doing, or starting in the last group and cruising through the trails. The only hitch for the riders taking on the challenge of racing is that they have to stay ahead of the fastest “normally aspirated” (as commentator Paul Valstar has taken to calling them) riders. If they get caught the eBikers are demoted to the touring eBike start group for Stage 2.

“It’s not as easy as people think it is” warned Corne Barnard, of Rockhopper Adventures. “Especially if you go flat taps all the way! Amazingly I managed to finish on one battery, but I only had 5% left when I crossed the finish line. It’s a lot of fun though and I really believe there is a lot of scope for this type of racing.”

“It’s so much fun! It’s outrageous” enthused Giant OverDrive!!’s Boulle. “The whole time you’re thinking ‘what would this be like on a normal bike’ not having ridden the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback on a normal bike. But on the e you’re just flying. On the little inclines and on the flats, you’re just whacking it; it’s insane.”

“To have a jol going up and going down is awesome” Sullivan added. “We had to do a little bit of battery management on the climb to the second water point. But from there to the finish, at Oak Valley, it was all turbo mode. We just flew!”

To put the Giant OverDrive!! team’s flying in perspective they competed the stage in a time of 2 hours, 35 minutes and 51 seconds. The fastest ‘normally aspirated’ team was the Mood Coffee Baristas. Former professional mountain biker, Erik Kleinhans, and South African 1 500-meter record holder, Johan Cronje, are no slouches. Their time was 32 minutes and 11 seconds slower than the ePowered stage winners.

Tuesday’s Play Day will be the even better suited to the eBikes. “Tomorrow is going to be amazing” Sullivan said, looking forward to Stage 2!

The Lourensford Ultimate is a brand-new trail. A section of singletrack befitting of the final kilometres of the race with #SeriousGEES, the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback.

Built for the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback the Lourensford Ultimate was first ridden by the elite women who headlined the Chardonnay race. On Sunday, 7 November; Candice Lill, Mariske Strauss and co. got the first taste of the trail. While the Pinotage and Shiraz entrants will have to wait for 10 and 14 November respectively to get their chance to rail the 7 kilometres of berms.

Laid out by Johan Krigler and the Cape Trails team and built by a collaboration of trail builders the Lourensford Ultimate is in effect a series of singletracks from 430 meters above sea level and dropping to just 70 metres. Each time the trail crosses the road a new named-section of trail begins, but to simplify matters the entire segment is known as the Lourensford Ultimate.

“The Lourensford Ultimate is stunning” a grinning Strauss praised after completing her overall FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay victory, alongside Lill.  “I was looking at the mountains coming into Lourensford, it’s probably my favourite race finish. It’s a privilege to ride these trails and to enjoy the ‘gees’ coming into Lourensford.”

“The final singletracks coming down to the final FNB Wines2Whales finish line, in Lourensford, are so, so, awesome” Sarah Hill gushed. The Liv Racing rider had finished fourth on the general classification and had grown into the race as the amount of singletrack increased. “This time I didn’t fall. But I remember the exact corner where I did when I pre-rode the Lourensford Ultimate with the Wild Air TV guys. It’s very fast, very flowy and you can carry your speed. Having dropped off the pace slightly on the last climb it was great to be able to look down the switchbacks and see the other women ahead and try catch them on the Ultimate descent.”

There was paise in general for the Chardonnay concept, which sees the women’s elite and age group teams starting in an AA group 15 minutes ahead of the first men’s and mixed category teams. “Having our own race is fantastic” Dimension Data Veterans category winner Fienie Barnard said. “To be able to ride all the amazing singletracks which make up so much of the FNB Wines2Whales route, without having men racing up being us, their brakes squealing, takes a lot pressure off. It allows us to really enjoy the trails to the fullest. And I’m sure it will attract a lot more women to this race.”

“I loved the FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay” Marleen Lourens added. “I definitely won’t be missing it ever again. To have the trails to ourselves like that is really special.”

Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill wrapped up the FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay victory with their third stage win of the race on the final day of the event. Behind them, Fairtree outsprinted Galileo Infiniti SPOT to ensure the stage results matched the final general classification standings.

The third and final stage of the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay event saw the women who started the day in the various category leader 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. Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill were the real heroines of the event however, storming to a perfect three-from-three stage wins.

“We hadn’t really planned on getting 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.”

The Faces Rola team used the Gantouw Pass in particular to extend their advantage. “We had a tail wind 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 tail wind that momentum, kind of just, carried me down the pass.”

“The Lourensford Ultimate is stunning” she continued, praising the final singletrack of the race. “I was looking at the mountains coming into Lourensford, it’s probably my favourite race finish. It’s always special. It was great to be able to have the time to enjoy the ‘gees’ coming into the finish here and savour the victory.”

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 the FNB Wines2Whales” McDougall stated. “I’m glad we were able to establish a 1 minute and 30 second advantage on Stage 2 because it would have been very stressful sprinting for second on the general classification today.”

“When I started cycling, as a 10-year-old, there were so few girls riding that I was the under 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 the 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.”

The sub-veteran’s category was won by Nicola Walker and Kate Slegrova. 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 not only won all three stages but also 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.

With the women’s Chardonnay race completed the attention now shifts to the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event. The most relaxed event in the series starts at the Curro School in Hermanus at 07:00 on Monday morning. The action can be followed on www.wines2whales.com; or on the race’s social media handles @wines_2_whales, on Instagram, and @w2wmtb, on Twitter.

 

FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay:

Stage 3 | Elite Women:

  1. Faces Rola: Candice Lill & Mariske Strauss (3:21:20)
  2. Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Amy McDougall (3:25:21 | +4:01)
  3. Galileo Infiniti SPOT: Kim le Court & Mari Rabie (3:25:22 | +4:02)

 

Stage 3 | Sub-Veteran Women

  1. Woolworths Pretty Pedal: Nicola Walker & Kate Slegrova (4:12:59)
  2. Computer Mania Ladies: Almari de Milander & Su-Mari Visser (4:23:55 | +10:56)
  3. Rehidrat Sport: Claudia Schonitz & Diane Obree (5:12:55| +59:56)

 

Stage 3 | Veteran Women

  1. Titletoria Ladies: Fienie Barnard & Hanlie Booyens (3:58:55)
  2. J&M Masters Ladies: Jane Seggie & Michelle Lombardi (4:01:39 | +2:45)
  3. Citricom Girls: Jeanie De Villiers & Marleen Lourens (4:02:39 | +3:44)

 

General Classification after Stage 3 | Elite Women

  1. Faces Rola: Candice Lill & Mariske Strauss (9:25:07)
  2. Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Amy McDougall (9:34:45| +9:38)
  3. Galileo Infiniti SPOT: Kim le Court & Mari Rabie (9:36:12 | +11:05)

 

General Classification after Stage 3 | Sub-Veteran Women

  1. Woolworths Pretty Pedal: Nicola Walker & Kate Slegrova (11:47:44)
  2. Computer Mania Ladies: Almari de Milander & Su-Mari Visser (12:23:05 | +35:21)
  3. Rehidrat Sport: Claudia Schonitz & Diane Obree (13:58:22 | +2:10:37)

 

General Classification after Stage 3 | Veteran Women

  1. Titletoria Ladies: Fienie Barnard & Hanlie Booyens (11:02:47)
  2. J&M Masters Ladies: Jane Seggie & Michelle Lombardi (11:18:48 | +16:01)
  3. Citricom Girls: Jeanie De Villiers & Marleen Lourens (11:33:52 | +31:07)

Sune Henning and Lehane Oosthuizen have an interesting story of how they came to take part in the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay. Henning entered 3 competitions and transferred a traditional entry in order to race this November.

“It all began in 2016” Henning recalled. “Foodlovers’ were running a competition which rewarded the man and woman who clocked up the most milage in 3 weeks with an FNB Wines2Whales entry. Despite having a full-time job, I managed to average 5 hours and 100 kilometres a day for the 3 weeks. But I only rode off-road. Friends told me to ride my road bike, but I wasn’t interested. Ultimately though that cost me the entry as the woman who beat me did most of her riding on the road.”

Fast forward 3 and a bit years and she was in need of an event to look forward to. “Late in 2019 I broke my elbow and couldn’t ride my bike. I got a bit depressed as a result; so, a friend suggested we enter FNB Wines2Whales to keep me motivated” Henning recounted. “We entered in February 2020 and were really looking forward to the race. But then Covid happened and eventually the event had to be cancelled. We transferred our entry to 2021.”

“In the meantime, I took part in the Champions Chase competition and bought lottery tickets in support of the Paul Cluver Crèche” she said. “I didn’t think I’d win an entry. I was just thinking of the race beneficiaries who were struggling with the lockdowns and loss of income. Winning the entry was a great surprise.”

“The friend I’d originally entered with then wanted to get a refund for our original entry and so I was able to take up the entry I won and ride with Lehane [Oosthuizen].” “Sune was the first woman I saw riding down a rocky singletrack. She was my mountain biking mentor” Oosthuizen added. “Now she rides more than I do, as I have to balance riding with a full-time job” Henning laughed. “She races in the elite category normally, so I’ve been the nail this weekend. But I’ve loved the riding! The singletracks in particular have been incredible.”

“Especially being able to ride them without faster men catching us” Henning pointed out. “The AA women’s start group is incredible. It really makes the riding so much more enjoyable. We get the trails to ourselves and kind of just find our natural seeding within the women’s group. Being able to ride the trails without the pressure of faster riders coming from behind is incredible.”

“Yesterday we were with the elite women to the top of Rotary Drive” Oosthuizen smiled. “As we started to descend towards the Hemel en Aarde Valley the group, nearly as one, dropped their dropper seat post. That’s when you know the fun is about to start.”

The fun is not quite over for the #RaceWithGrace team. They and the rest of the FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay field still have a final day on the Switchback trails. Taking riders from Oak Valley to Lourensford the last stage has a particularly spectacular end in store for the teams, the newly build Lourensford Ultimate singletrack descent.

The Faces Rola team extended their general classification lead with their second stage win of the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay Race. Stage 2 saw a repeat of the opening day’s Elite women’s podium, with Fairtree and Galileo Infiniti SPOT joining Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill on the podium.

Stage 2 of the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback Chardonnay race took on the trails of Oak Valley, Paul Cluver and Thandi during the event’s ‘Play Day’. Saturday, 6 November, dawned with perfect weather and as the day warmed, the women’s racing heated up too. Having cranked up the temperature on the climb to Poffadder it was Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill who once again raced to stage honours.

“We raced the first 35 or 40 kilometres together” Lill explained. “Then Mariske [Strauss] and I put in an attack on a climb towards a section of singletrack. This stage is really easy to underestimate, because it’s called ‘Play Day’ but it’s constantly up and down. That said, none of the climbs or singletracks are really that long, so it’s difficult to make a decisive gap. When we attacked, I think it split up behind us too and from then on we just pushed on to extend our overall lead.”

“The FNB Wines2Whales and Woolworths have done such a great thing with the women’s race” Lill’s Faces Rola partner added. “To have our own event and to be able to race entirely unhindered is amazing.”

“We worked really hard today to build a bit of a buffer to Galileo Infiniti SPOT today” Amy McDougall of Fairtree said, after finishing second on the stage. “Jen [Stenerhag] and I are a bit quicker than them in the singletracks and we used that to add to the single second advantage we had from yesterday. I am a bit worried about the Gantouw Pass descent tomorrow though, if I’m honest. I’m a bit of a klutz off the bike, at the best of times. So, racing a former Olympic triathlete, like Mari [Rabie] down the portage is going to be tough.”

After two days of racing Faces Rola lead Faitree by 5 minutes and 36 seconds. Galileo Infiniti SPOT’s Rabie and Kim le Court are a further 1 minute and 27 seconds back. The Veterans and Sub-Veterans women leaders remain unchanged from Stage 1. Woolworths Pretty Pedal’s Nicola Walker and Kate Slegrova extended their Sub-Veteran category advantage, as did the Tiletoria Ladies, Fienie Barnard and Hanlie Booyens.

Stage 3, of the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback Chardonnay takes the teams from Oak Valley to the final finish line on the fields of Lourensford Wine Estate. The 62 kilometre long stage takes in 1 350 metres of climbing and along with the Gantouw Pass portage descent it also features a brand new singletrack within the final 10 kilometres. Dubbed the Lourensford Ultimate it will provide a fitting finale to the three days of racing and ensure an exciting finale for age groupers and elite riders alike. 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:

Stage 2 | Elite Women:

  1. Faces Rola: Candice Lill & Mariske Strauss (02:57:52)
  2. Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Amy McDougall (02:59:19 | +1:27)
  3. Galileo Infiniti SPOT: Kim Le Court & Mari Rabie (03:00:46 | +2:53)

General Classification | Elite Women:

  1. Faces Rola: Candice Lill & Mariske Strauss (06:03:47.1)
  2. Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Amy McDougall (06:09:23.6 | +5:36,5)
  3. Galileo Infiniti SPOT: Kim Le Court & Mari Rabie (06:10:59.5 | +7:03,4 )

 

Stage 2 | Sub-Veteran Women:

  1. Woolworths Pretty Pedal: Nicola Walker & Kate Slegrova (03:46:22)
  2. Computer Mania Ladies: Almari de Milander & Su-Mari Visser (03:52:06 | +5:44)
  3. Rehidrat Sport: Claudia Schonitz & Diane Obree (04:23:09| +36:47)

General Classification | Sub-Veteran Women:

  1. Woolworths Pretty Pedal: Nicola Walker & Kate Slegrova (07:34:45.4)
  2. Computer Mania Ladies: Almari de Milander & Su-Mari Visser (07:59:09.8 | +24:24,4)
  3. Rehidrat Sport: Claudia Schonitz & Diane Obree (09:00:42.3 | +01:25:56.9)

 

Stage 2 | Veteran Women:

  1. Titletoria Ladies: Fienie Barnard & Hanlie Booyens (03:31:53)
  2. J&M Masters Ladies: Jane Seggie & Michelle Lombardi (03:33:32 | +1:39)
  3. Citricom Girls: Jeanie De Villiers & Marleen Lourens (03:34:41 | +2:47)

General Classification | Veteran Women:

  1. Titletoria Ladies: Fienie Barnard & Hanlie Booyens (07:03:52.1)
  2. J&M Masters Ladies: Jane Seggie & Michelle Lombardi (07:17:09.9 | +13:15,8)
  3. Citricom Girls: Jeanie De Villiers & Marleen Lourens (07:31:14.5 | +27:22,4)

Feeding and providing the caffeine fix for +-1 000 riders is no small feat. Yet Woolworths has it down to an art at the FNB Wines2Whales, as they provide breakfasts and lunches, as well as the ingredients for dinners to all the hungry cyclists. Not to mention the life-saving work done by the Woolies Coffee Stall.

The first port of call for any old hand of multiple FNB Wines2Whales events, upon arriving at the Curro School in Hermanus, was the Woolworths Coffee Stall. Not only to get a caffeine fix to cure the early wake-up call they had to endure, to be at the start on time, but also, to get an armband to see them through the week ahead.

 

Once outfitted with a coffee band, which entitles the wearer to 9 coffees of their choice as well as a complimentary 10th, there’s nothing the Switchback route can throw at them that they’re not ready to handle. Rotary Drive within the first 5km… double espresso before the start. Late afternoon energy slump after a couple of glasses of Oak Valley’s finest wines… a stiff americano. Supporting a team and have half an hour to kill before heading off to a Wildekrans… a smooth cappuccino (as long as it’s before 11am of course).

Coffee is not the only way Woolworths keep the FNB Wines2Whales races moving. The luxury retailer also provides breakfasts. With warm oats and a selection of fruits having been the most popular option ahead of Stage 1 of the Chardonnay event. After each stage the teams are then treated to a delicious Woolworths recovery meal, which kicks off the famous FNB W2W post-stage relaxation process.

Then in the evenings the event’s caterers use the finest Woolies ingredients to create an array of hearty, healthy and, above all, scrumptious dinners throughout the event. In fact, many a rider may quietly be cursing the route team for marking the course so well, as there are simply not enough opportunities to burn off all the calories one could consume in the race village, thanks to Woolworths’ generous portions.

Though maybe a big plate at dinner is the excuse required to return for a second loop of the Rietvlei Magic or Kromco Play Park on Stage 2?