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[FNB Wines2Whales]

Looser and Pritzen Storm Stage 1 of FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz

By FNB Wines2Whales, 11/04/22, 4:45AM HST


Konny Looser and Marc Pritzen of Team Honeycomb Pro Cycling opened their FNB Wines2Whales account with a stage win over a stacked field.

Konny Looser and Marc Pritzen, racing as Team Honeycomb Pro Cycling, were the fastest of the Men’s teams on Stage 1 of the FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz, which saw teams race from Lourensford Wine Estate to Oak Valley Estate.

Lining the start of the FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz on Friday, 4 November, were 20 of the top South African mountain bike teams, all primed and ready to begin the race for the FNB Wines2Whales title, the Ciovita leader jerseys, and the R100 000 prize money to the winning team.

The pace was hot from the gun as the main protagonists, Toyota Specialized, Honeycomb Pro Cycling, Pyga Euro Steel, Imbuko {Type} DEV, made short work of the opening kilometres within Lourensford Wine Estate, through Idiom and to water point 2 in the shadow of the Gantouw Pass portage.

“That was a hard day of racing,” said Matt Beers of Toyota Specialized. “We started up the climb really hard as we wanted to make a select group of teams to race with and that worked well. Until the portage.”

As it had done in the past two events, the portage played a pivotal role in the racing as Honeycomb Pro Cycling summited first with Pyga Euro Steel hot on their heels, and Toyota Specialized a matter of seconds back in third.

“At the portage it all shattered,” explained Philip Buys of Pyga Euro Steel. “Everyone seemed to struggle a bit with some cramping; after the portage it was just about spinning out the legs and sorting it all out. Then it was on again and right near the finish, the last climb was about two minutes of effort too long for me and Konny and Marc got the gap.”

The final kilometres of the race, through Oak Valley’s famed trails, most notably Greenhouse Effect, it was a one horse race as Pritzen and Looser made the most of the gap they’d forced over Pyga Euro Steel and secured the stage win and the Ciovita leader jerseys.

“It was a difficult race today. Matt [Beers] was pushing the pace super hard and Konny rode a really smart race as his legs weren’t happy at the beginning of the race,” explained Pritzen. “But he was really strong coming towards the finish, attacking and driving the pace. The tactics are so exciting in mountain biking and the experience that Konny has is incredible, so it’s really great to learn from him as we race.”

The partnership dynamic and the relationships between teammates once again proved to be key to success at the FNB Wines2Whales.

“I am super excited about the stage win and the jerseys! It’s exciting but now there’s some pressure because we can only lose them from now on.” smiled Looser. “What’s interesting is that mountain biking is generational. When I was racing a few years ago it was with Christoph [Sauser] and I was the young one racing against Gawie Combrinck, Darren Lill and Nico Bell and now I’m the oldest in the field racing with Marc. Things change, but the nerves still stay the same on the start.”

After Stage 1, less than 40 seconds separated Looser and Pritzen from Buys and Heyns, who finished the stage in second. Third place, a three minutes and thirty seconds behind the stage winners, was Beers and Nortje of Toyota Specialized.


Mixed Category:

The FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz race also hosts the Toyota Mixed category racing which saw the MadMacs team of Yolande De Villiers and Charles McFall claim the stage win and the Ciovita leader jerseys ahead of Candice and Darren Lill – the latter, who came out of a 5-year-long retirement to experience the Serious Gees alongside his wife. Third place was claimed by Aurelie Halbwachs & Yannick of Moka Ranger SC.


Exxaro Racing:

This year’s FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz saw the largest ever field of teams competing in the Exxaro jersey competition as 24 teams of riders from previously disadvantaged backgrounds began the stage at Lourensford Wine Estate. Halalisani Ndebele and Tlotlo Selala of Exxaro/RMB 1 were first across the line in 03:23:36 and will begin Stage 2 in the Exxaro leader jerseys. Second place went to William Sello Majapholo & Keneth Kabelo Tshukukudu, while third on the stage went to Zola Ngxakeni & Ntlantla Nonkasa.

FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz Results – Stage 1

Men’s Racing:

1.     Honeycomb Pro Cycling: Konny Looser & Marc Pritzen | 02:47:51

2.     Pyga Euro Steel:Gert Heyns & Philip Buys | 02:48:30 (+00:0039.8)

3.     Toyota Specialized: Matthew Beers & Tristan Nortje | 02:51:21 (+00:03:30.6)

Men’s Amateurs:

1.     Hollard Namibia: Martin Freyer & Gerhard Mans | 03:11:34

2.     Exxaro/RMB1: Tlotlo Selala & Halalisani Ndebele | 03:23:36.5 (+00:12:01.9)

3.     Exxaro/Pepto: William Sello Majapholo & Keneth Kabelo Tshukukudu | 03:25:58.2 (00:14:23.6) 

Men’s Masters:

1.     Van Deijl Juweliers: Franso Steyn & Hannes Kotze | 03:23:48.9 

2.     RDX Powerbar: Jaco Davel & Andreas Studer | 03:25:56.4 (+00:02:07.4)

3.     Staffanuti Stocks: Burger Bester & Hendrik Bester | 03:25:57.6  (+00:02:08.6)

Men’s Grand Masters:

1.     Nitro & Flash: Rowan Williams & Delaney Impey | 03:31:34.7

2.     Robert Daniel: Piet Swiegers & Robert Sim | 03:39:00.7 (+00:07:26)

3.     Primetime: Douglas Burger & Gavin Scholtz | 03:46:23.2 (+00:14:48.5) 

Men’s Great Grand Masters:

1.     Anna Foundation Great Grand Masters: Linus Van Onselen & Eben Espach | 03:37:08

2.     North & South: Vaughan Ulyate & Jimmy Mills | 03:52:49.1 (+00:15:41.1)

3.     Antipodes Pump For Peach: Bart Meganck & Ross Castle | 04:06:21 (+00:29:13)


1.     MadMacs: Charles McFall & Yolande De Villiers | 03:23:42.1

2.     Ciovita: Candice Lill & Darren Lill | 03:26:35.1 (+00:02:52.9)

3.     Moka Rangers SC: Aurelie Halbwachs & Yannick Lincoln | 03:31:57.9 (+00:08:15.7) 


1.     Exxaro/RMB1:Tlotlo Selala & Halalisani Ndebele | 03:23:36.5

2.     Exxaro/Pepto: William Sello Majapholo & Keneth Kabelo Tshukukudu | 03:25:58.2 (+00:02:21.6)

3.     Songo-91-Specialized: Zola Ngxakeni & Ntlantla Nonkasa | 03:31:57.7 (+00:08:21.2)


Stage 2 of the FNB Wines2Whales is play day and takes teams through a whirlwind route that showcases the very best trails on offer within the Oak Valley and Paul Cluver Estates. To follow the action of Stage 2, follow @wines_2_whales on Instagram and @w2wmtb on Twitter, like the Wines2Whales Facebook page and subscribe to the Epic Series YouTube Channel.