For the first time, at the 2018 FNB Wines2Whales, riders from historically disadvantaged communities competed for an Exxaro Jersey. With the aid of entries for selected charities, the jersey drew 12 men’s teams, a mixed team and a women’s team to the event. Some came to experience the famous trails and gees, while others were here to race. The foremost among the racers were the inaugural Exxaro Jersey winners Baphelele Mbobo and Luyanda Thobigunya of BMT Fairtree.
Hailing from Stellenbosch, just 30 kilometres from the start of FNB Wines2Whales, the pair came into the race highly motivated to succeed. The BMT Fairtree pairing crossed the finish line first on all three stages. They held off the Exxaro / PwC1 team, of Anele Mtalana and Thabiso Rengane, on the opening stage by 51 seconds. The category leaders then raced to a dominant win on Stage 2, over RMB Change a Life’s Sanele Shabalala and Ndumiso Dontso, by 5 minutes. On the final stage they shadowed the Exxaro / PwC1 team, as Mtalana and Rengane made the racing, eventually crossing the line a whisker ahead to secure the perfect Exxaro Jersey competition win.
“We took it easy today, just following the Exxaro team” Mbobo grimaced on the finish line. “I had a big crash through, but we made it safely to the finish” he continued, showing off the torn shoulder of the Exxaro Jersey he wore on the final stage. “I feel blessed. And so happy,” Mbobo revealed. “I’ve been training so hard for this, for three months. And finally got it.”
“It’s been tough this year” Mbobo’s BMT Fairtree teammate Thobigunya reflected. “Because of the competition and the new Exxaro Jersey. It means a lot to us to wear the jersey” he humbly concluded.
While FNB Wines2Whales’s Oak Valley race village might only be a short drive for the BMT Fairtree riders the RMB Change a Life and Exxaro MTB Academy teams travelled from far further afield to reach the event. An important part of the competition is the opportunities it creates for the riders with it to visit and ride in new parts of the country.
“It’s a dream come true for me, I’ve been riding my bike for eight years but I never had an opportunity like this come down to the Cape” Shabalala, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal said. “It’s a good opportunity for me. Riding for the Exxaro Jersey it’s… wow… it’s awesome. I don’t know what to say. Just thanks to Martin Dreyer, thanks for RMB and thanks to Exxaro” Shabalala gushed.
The male athletes in the Exxaro Jersey competition were also joined by Andisiwe Skeyi, who rode with experienced Exxaro Academy rider Khumbudzo Masala, and the Oh Dear women’s team of Alison Chait and Charmaine Lilje. In a bid to increase the number of historically disadvantaged women taking part in mountain bike events FNB Wines2Whales has formalised the process whereby historically disadvantaged women can apply for entries. As participants in the 2018 FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz Chait, Lilje and Skeyi are at the forefront of what one can only hope is a boom in the numbers of women on mountain bikes.
Results Exxaro Jersey | 2018 FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz
1. BMT Fairtree 1: Baphelele Mbobo & Luyanda Thobigunya (8:48.23,6)
2. RMB Change a Life 1: Sanele Shabalala & Ndumiso Dontso (8:59.38,8)
3. Exxaro / PwC1: Anele Mtalana & Thabiso Rengane (9:00.13,5)
4. Exxaro / DMA: Clement Mabula & Shaun Baloyi (9:12.03,8)
5. RMB Change a Life 2: Bongumusa Zikhali & Sipho Kupiso (9:21.21,2)
6. Velokhaya Team 1: Mthetheleli Boya & Shameeg Salie (9:36.56,1)
7. Ntlantla & AJ: Anrique Davids & Ntlantla Nonkasa (9:54.47,7)
8. Exxaro / RMB: Khutso Tlou & Luke Mashiane (10:16.12,7)
9. BMT Didata: Thando Klaas & Zola Ngxakeni (10:50.07,4)
10. Sheldon & Fernell: Fernell Reque & Sheldon Fourie (11:01.06,3)
11. Exxaro / Pepto: Duduzi Dubazana & Mphodisa Sebopa (13:05.48,5)
12. Jamian & Ashwin: Ashwin Jansen & Jamian Soldaat (13:59.21,8)