De Groot, Stenerhag ready for W2W title defense

Ariane Kleinhans in action.  Photo Credit:  Craig Kolesky
Ariane Kleinhans in action. Photo Credit: Craig Kolesky

South African National Marathon Champion, Robyn de Groot and Swedish Marathon Champion, Jennie Stenerhag will team up the weekend of 11 – 13 November 2016 to defend their title at the 2016 FNB Wines2Whales (W2W) Mountain Bike (MTB) Race.

Riding for Team Ascendis Health, De Groot and Stenerhag claimed gold in 2015 after completing Stage One (72km), Stage Two (67km) and Stage Three (75km) of the FNB W2W MTB Race in an impressive combined time of 09 hours 46 minutes 19 seconds.

“This will be the third time that I take part in the FNB W2W MTB Race,” says De Groot.  “I love the event.  It features fantastic mountain biking, has one race village with no moving around and there’s a superb atmosphere.  Jennie and I always race to win, but even as a professional athlete it’s important to have balance and enjoy the experience along the way.  This year W2W announced that it’s already healthy prize purse has been increased.  As a result I expect the ladies racing category to be very exciting.”

According to Stenerhag, the FNB W2W MTB Race is one of her favorite races.   “Taking the win with Robyn was a great feeling.  It was a tight and exciting ladies race.  That made the win even more special.  Our goal will be to successfully defend our title.  Of all the stage races that I have done, W2W has the most fun route.  It’s the event that features the most single track. It’s also challenging with a lot of climbing.  It’s the perfect combination of everything.”

An exciting new team that just might throw a spanner in the works for De Groot and Stenerhag, is Team Spur’s Ariane Kleinhans and Cherie Redecker.

Currently the reigning Swiss Marathon Champion, Kleinhans is confident that her team is up for the challenge.  “Our goal is to win, but also to enjoy the amazing event as much as possible,” says Kleinhans.  “W2W is one of South Africa’s greatest stage races. The route and the organization of the event are absolutely first class.  Cherie and I are both pretty strong technical riders and fairly good climbers.  We also get along really well.  I am looking forward to teaming up with her.”

According to Redecker, who is the current SA XCO Cup series winner, she is extremely excited to be racing.  “I’ve wanted to race W2W since the event’s inception,” says Redecker.  “It is a privilege to race with Ariane.  We are going to have a great time and I know I will learn a lot from her.   Having only ever worked at W2W, I am really looking forward to experiencing the event from a rider’s perspective.”

Other top teams that will be vying for the top spot on the podium will include:  Candice Neethling with Vera Adrian (Team Dormakaba Time Freight), Theresa Ralph with Samantha Sanders (Team Galileo Risk Valencia) and Michelle Lombardi with Hanlie Booyens (Team Tiletoria Ladies).

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