The Swedish/German combination of Jennie Stenerhag and Nadine Rieder have experience and class aplenty between them. But will they have what it takes to battle for FNB Wines2Whales victory in Rieder’s debut in the Chardonnay race? We spoke to them to find out.
FNB Wines2Whales: Jennie, you’ve had great success at the FNB Wines2Whales in the past, having won the 2016 & 2017 editions. In 2018 you were coming back from injury. So, in light of last year’s relative disappointment, how motivated are you to get back to your best at W2W and what is it about the race that suits you so well?
Jennie Stenerhag: The FNB W2W is always a highlight of my year for many reasons. First of all, the route is always lots of fun and the route team always puts new little tweaks into the race. It is one of the best organised races of the calendar and since it is the last big race of the year, people seem more relaxed and there to have fun, so the atmosphere is very nice. I always like racing in this area too, since I stay here for most of the year.
FNB W2W: Nadine, what convinced you to come back out to South Africa to race the FNB Wines2Whales alongside Jennie?
Nadine Rieder: Racing here earlier this year was such a great experience and I’m still impressed by how special it was to race in South Africa. The atmosphere, the race itself, people around it and the brilliant organisation to name but a few reasons. Because of that I was happy to get Jennie’s request and I decided straight away to come back for the FNB W2W.
FNB W2W: Jennie, you will have obviously had to explain the Gantouw Pass portage to Nadine – who has been down there during this year’s Cape Epic – how do you explain it to someone who doesn’t know what to expect and how do you approach racing up there?
JS: I am glad she saw it earlier in the year so at least she knows what it looks like. Otherwise it is difficult to explain to a mountain biker who is used to riding the bike not running with the bike. Nadine is also a bit taller than I am, which will help. I always wish I had longer legs, when I walk/try to run up there. But it is so unique to the race that it adds something exciting yet challenging.
FNB W2W: It looks like the 2019 W2W Chardonnay race could feature the most competitive elite women’s field in the event’s 11-year history. Who do you see as your main rivals?
JS: It is great to see how the women’s field is growing, both in numbers of teams and the standard of racing, which is going up year on year! There are so many top-class teams and it is really difficult to pick out the team that stands out as favourites; but if I must pick one team, I would say last year’s winners Candice Lill and Adelheid Morath. They have both had strong seasons and are in very good form.