Not since 2015 has Erik Kleinhans won an FNB Wines2Whales title. Though the former professional mountain biker and the retired elite track athlete, Johan Cronje, do not count their FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage success as a race win however.

The Mood Coffee Baristas’ Erik Kleinhans and Johan Cronje rode to victory in the mid-week FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event, from 8 to 10 November. They completed the three stages in a combined time of 9 hours, 38 minutes and 4 seconds to earn the top step of the podium ahead of Honeycomb and Megatech1. Kleinhans, is not eager to claim the win however.

“I didn’t win anything” he laughed, when told it was his first FNB Wines2Whales win in a good few years. “This was just about having fun with Johan. We weren’t racing!”

During his professional career Kleinhans won the FNB Wines2Whales Race, as the Shiraz event was then known, alongside James Reid (in 2015) and Oliver Munnik (in 2009). His partner, Cronje, is one of South Africa’s best ever track athletes. Having specialised in the 1 500 metre distance Cronje still holds the South African record, at 3 minutes and 31.93 seconds, which he set in 2013.

The pair are not only riding partners, but are also business partners in the Mood Café coffee shop in Stellenbosch. “I had lot of fun here at FNB Wines2Whales. And it was great to ride with Johan” Kleinhans enthused. “I love this race. I’ve been doing it for so many years, so it’s always great to be here.”

“To be honest I actually enjoy the Switchback route more than the traditional direction” he added. “It’s great to finish in Lourensford! It’s a little closer to my home in Stellenbosch and I think the way it works starting in Onrus and finishing here is actually pretty good.”

“It’s not just the riding which makes FNB Wines2Whales a must-do event” Cronje interjected. “You have to buy a ticket and come ride. But also the vibe in the Oak Valley race village is amazing! If you love mountain biking you definitely need to take part in FNB Wines2Whales.”

While Kleinhans and Cronje had a drama free time on the trails the women’s race winners, Bianca and Cally Silberbauer, had a more eventful three days. It all started with a loose headset and a crash, on Stage 1, for Cally Silberbauer. While the sisters only inherited the overall lead when the opening day’s winners, Linda Hitchings and Tyla Setzkorn, suffered a catastrophic mechanical. The Grabouw Animal Welfare team were joined on the final podium by Hiive’s Hitchings and Setzkorn, who recovered well on Stage 3, as well as by the Blitz + Vinnig team of Siska van der Bijl and Juanita Mackenzie.

The eBike race was won by Max Sullivan and Jason Boulle. Giant Overdrive!! were joined on the general classification podium by Carl and Andrew Liebenberg, and Ralf Bochnig and Günther Hein.

With the Pinotage event drawing to a conclusion the next event on the FNB Wines2Whales schedule is the Shiraz race. It features prize money for the elite and age group men, as well as the mixed and Exxaro categories. The racing gets underway at 07:00 – on Friday, 12 November – at the Curro School in Hermanus. Mountain biking fans can follow the action on www.wines2whales.com; or on the race’s social media handles @wines_2_whales, on Instagram, and @w2wmtb, on Twitter.