The sun came out and provided an opportunity to catch a great cycling tan on Stage 1 of the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event; on Monday, 23 October. After rain and overcast conditions, the heat and sunshine were welcomed by the riders taking part in the social mid-week race. The most relaxed of the trio of events, the Pinotage boasts E-Bike racing categories and an E-Bike tour alongside the usual mountain bike age categories.

Stage 2 Ride Report | Stage 3 Ride Report

Such was the speed at which Joris Ryf and Benno Willeit completed the course, one should probably describe them as beyond the sharp end. There was racing behind the Specialized Factory Racing team, but with the stage winners stopping the clock in 1 hour, 51 minutes and 38 seconds they had no meaningful competition. They averaged over 29 kilometres per hour and won the 55 kilometre stage by 10 minutes and 37 seconds.

Joris Ryf

Joris Ryf and Benno Willeit in full flight. Photo by Dom Barnardt.

For the majority of the field the pleasure was in taking their time to complete the course. Many stopped for photo opportunities atop climbs; to take in the spectacular views across Lourensford, Vergelegen, Somerset West and across the basin to False Bay beyond. More spent time at the water points, faffing and feeding. Consuming as many or perhaps more calories than they had burnt on the bike.

“It’s hard to describe, because they’re literally that good,” Doug Bird, of Wild Air Sport, grinned when asked about the singletracks. “I’m riding my first stage race on an E-Bike and I’m ruined. Today was probably the happiest I’ve ever been at the top of a climb. Coming down the Uitkyk Trails, they’re so well built you just lower your centre of gravity and let the brakes go. It’s magic from start to finish on an E-Bike! I feel like it’s unfair.”

Giniel de Villiers

So fun it’s almost unfair. Photo by Dom Barnardt.

“The trails are so sick!” Mariske Strauss whooped. The former FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay champion is riding an E-Bike with Max Sullivan during the Pinotage, as she continues her return to racing following an illness enforced layoff. “Following those guys, [Sullivan and Jason Boulle], is so much fun. I didn’t follow Max [Sullivan] into a bush, when he crashed, at least though. But Jason [Boulle] did!”

Aside from the new Uitkyk Trails, built by Erica and Spook Groenewald’s son Timmy, the course also took in old favourites. The route wound around the valley above Lourensford’s Blue Gum Dam and linked the Trout Trail, Blue Gum, Old Graveyard and the Toyota Cruise section Magic Forest. These singletracks were dusty at times as the twisted and turned through the plantations.


The trails of Lourensford were in superb condition. Photo by Sam Clark.

In the final 8 kilometres a final downhill run along Ride for a Child provided a swooping run from the contour roads to the valley far below. All the trails ensured dusty grins and set the teams up for a thrilling play day in Elgin, on Tuesday.

For insights into the trails and highlights from the route tune into Stage 2 of the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage. Follow the action at @wines_2_whales on Instagram or like the Wines2Whales Facebook page for regular updates, in the stories.  Fans can also catch the daily highlights on the Epic Series YouTube channel and read all about how the racing unfolded on


With 210 E-Bikes on the start line there has never been a bigger electric assisted field than the one assembled for the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage. Photo by Dom Barnardt.

Results: FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage

Stage 1 E-Bike Men’s Results:

  1. Specialized Factory Racing: Benno Willeit & Joris Ryf (1:51:38)
  2. FuelX: Jovan Jacobs & Wayne Van Der Walt (2:02:15 | +10:37)
  3. Toyota Specialized: Giniel De Villiers & Bobby Behan (2:04:47 | +13:08)
  4. Greatsoft Cloud: Robert Briggs & Colin Morgan (2:06:12 | +14:34)
  5. Knysna Toyota Racing: Lee Esterhuizen & Stuart Lightley (2:12:07 | +20:29)
Joris Ryf

E-MTB World Champion Joris Ryf, was racing the 2023 Pinotage event. Photo by Dom Barnardt.