Ahead of the 2019 FNB Wines2Whales events the organisers are working tirelessly to ensure every rider starts, rides and finishes with #SeriousGEES. To that end, as anyone who has ridden a stage race knows, good food is essential. The first thing entrants can get excited about already is the fact that one of South Africa’s favourite food retailers, Woolworths, has come on board as the official food partner until 2022.
Riders will be able to start their day with a caffeine kick, thanks to the Woolworths coffee cart where some delicious options will be available for purchase, before making their way to breakfast. Everything the eleven-time entrants have come to know and love will be served, but with the Woolworths difference.
The Woolworths luxuries will continue on the bike at the water points, where more fruit and a sweet treat or five awaits, as well as potatoes and perhaps a portion of banana bread. Fortunately the IRB Rugby World Cup games will be televised live throughout the FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay and Shiraz events; so there’s a reason to not spend all day indulging in trailside goodies.
After the stages on days 1 & 2, Woolworths will provide both a delicious lunch and dinner spread in collaboration with a caterer who will be using inspiring, quality ingredients. Previous entrants might notice refinements rather than radical changes but the real evidence of the nutritious meals will be the on-bike energy that wholesome food delivers to athletes of all levels.
One area where Woolworths are keen to see fundamental changes though, is in the number of riders from historically disadvantaged communities taking part in mountain bike races. They have therefore committed to sponsoring five development teams to take part in the Exxaro competition within the Shiraz race, with a view to encourage greater participation. In 2018, when the Exxaro category was launched, the BMT Fairtree team of Baphelele Mbobo and Luyanda Thobigunya rode away with the title. Behind them the battle for second, between the RMB Change a Life and Exxaro / PwC1 teams, came down to just 35 seconds after three days of racing. It is the hope of both FNB Wines2Whales and Woolworths that with continued support the competitiveness of all the Exxaro Jersey teams can reach, or even exceed, the level set by Mbobo and Thobigunya.
Woolworths’ Events and Sponsorship manager, Reinette Geldenhuis, is no stranger to the FNB Wines2Whales. In 2018 she took part in all three events, claiming one of the inaugural Jeroboam awards. “Woolworths is delighted to be partnering with the FNB Wines2Whales. Our participation is a way for us to give back to the riders who support us during their training as well as the rest of the year, and as such we will be supplying a variety of exciting new products for them to sample. Our water points, which will be located throughout the route, will offer a great selection of snacks and treats to keep riders' energy up, and as we are known for our delicious coffee, this will be available in the village, throughout the event. We hope that our involvement will help showcase the quality, convenient solutions we are known for, and that support an active lifestyle. We are sure this partnership will add to what is bound to be a wonderful racing event,” the 6-time finisher confided.
“We are exceptionally excited to welcome Woolworths into the FNB Wines2Whales sponsorship family” Michael Flinn, the Managing Director of FNB Wines2Whales stated. “They are famous for their attention to detail and exceptional quality, which will surely add to the overall rider experience at the events. I must also confess that from a personal point of view I am thrilled that I’ll be able to start every day with a Woolies coffee. I can tell you now that I’m already anticipating withdrawal symptoms on Monday the 4th of November, after the Shiraz event has ended. Going back to life without a Woolworths coffee cart at work will be really hard” he laughed.