Vera Looser and Kim le Court, of Efficient Infiniti Insure Rare Street Coffee, outpaced and outraced their rivals, including the FNB Wines2Whales defending champions, to claim the opening stage of the FNB W2W Chardonnay.
The 2022 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay event saw 16 elite Women's teams arrive at the start line at Lourensford Wine Estate on Friday, 28 October, ready to race for three days for the Ciovita leader jerseys, the FNB Wines2Whales title, and an R100 000 prize to the winners.
Headlining the field were Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill, of Rola Toyota King Price, who began the day with high hopes of defending their title. However, the lovable locals had a target on their back and with the likes of Amy Wakefield and Irina Luetzelschwab, Vera Looser and Kim le Court, Katie Lennard and Laura Stark and many others present, the racing was flat out throughout the stage.
The day belonged to Kim le Court and Vera Looser, despite a hard chasing E-Fort Symbtech [Amy Wakefield and Irina Luetzelschwab] who kept the Efficient Infiniti Insure Rare Street Coffee in their sites up to and over the Gantouw Pass. Despite Wakefield and Luetzelschwab's best efforts, Le Court and Looser's desire to win a further Epic Series stage and claim the first Ciovita leader jerseys of the 2022 event proved powerful enough to fuel them to the stage win in a time of 03:32:31.3.
Hot on their heels, less than two minutes back, were Wakefield and Luetzelschwab who claimed second on the day. Third place went to Katie Lennard and Laura Stark of Pedersen Lennard.
"It's been a dream to even win one stage at the FNB Wines2Whales and now to be in the leader jerseys is just awesome! We had a tactic in our minds today, and we had the perfect race," explained Le Court. "We did exactly what we wanted to do at every single point. We were comfortable when we got to the top of Lourensford, and we knew I had to get into the singletracks first to set the pace down. The second point was the portage... I don't run, and really don't like walking!"
"It was super windy getting to the portage, and it was important not to be alone there, so it was great when Irina and Amy got back to the four of us," continued Looser. "We got a tiny gap by the top and when we got there, we just committed."
"Vera was a great partner and from there we just sent it." resumed Le Court.
"It was the best birthday present!" beamed Looser.
The FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay is dedicated to women's racing and uplifts the women of mountain biking by providing a separate start batch for the women's teams in the race and the same prize purse as their male counterparts (who'll race the Shiraz event in the coming days).
"It's so cool that we can have our own race and we are out there racing at the front," said Looser when asked what makes the FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay special. "We're standing in the start chute and it's awesome that we get the recognition we deserve, and I think all women must come to do this race!"
Further back in the field, the age group racing of the Chardonnay unfolded under clear blue skies and against the unseen but most definitely felt South Easter.
Women's Amateur category:
The Women's Amateur category was won by the Absa SheUntamed team of Marisa Van Der Linde and Brigitte Joubert in 04:27:16.4.
Women's Masters category:
Team Tiletoria Ladies' Hanlie Booyens and Fienie Barnard, who have 18 FNB Wines2Whales finishes their names, added a further stage win to their tally as they completed the opening stage in 04:04:58.
Women's Grand Masters category:
The Dusty Foxies, Ragna Nilssen and Ingrid Landman raced their way into the Women's Grand Masters leader jerseys when they completed the 72 kilometre stage from Lourensford Wine Estate to Oak Valley Estate in 05:15:57.7.
Stage 2 of the FNB Wines2Whales unfolds on the trails of Oak Valley and Paul Cluver Estates and has earned the title of Play Day thanks to its incredible trails, numerous bridges and the Paul Cluver Playpark sponsored by Agrimark. To see if Looser and Le Court, Van Der Linde and Joubert, Booyens and Barnard, and Nilssen and Landman can hold onto their Ciovita leader jerseys, follow @wines_2_whales on Instagram and @w2wmtb on Twitter, like the Wines2Whales Facebook page and subscribe to the Epic Series YouTube Channel.
Tag(s): FNB Wines2Whales