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The third and final stage of the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay event saw the women who started the day in the various category leaders’ jerseys maintain their overall leads. This meant that Faces Rola, Woolworths Pretty Pedal and the Titletoria Ladies rode home winners in the elite-, sub-veteran- and veterans women’s categories. Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill were the real heroines of the event however, storming to a perfect three-from-three stage wins.
 
“We hadn’t really planned getting away so early” Lill recounted of the move which earned them stage honours on the final day. “We were kind of just rolling along and Mariske [Strauss] just decided to go. And I was like ‘okay we’re going’! From the Eikenhof Dam we rode our pace and managed to extend our overall lead. It was a great day. In fact, I think it was my favourite of the three days.”

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The Faces Rola team used the Gantouw Pass in particular to extend their advantage. “We had a tail wind coming into the portage” Strauss explained with a smile. “I dismounted cyclocross style, with a bit too much speed, and had to run it out to stay upright. With the tail wind that momentum, kind of just, carried me down the pass.”
 
“The Lourensford Ultimate is stunning” she continued, praising the final singletrack of the race. “I was looking at the mountains coming into Lourensford, it’s probably my favourite race finish. It’s always special. It was great to be able to have the time to enjoy the ‘gees’ coming into the finish here and savour the victory.”

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Behind Strauss and Lill the Fairtree team of Amy McDougall and Jennie Stenerhag were second for the third time. “We had a nice dice with Kim [le Court] and Mari [Rabie] throughout FNB Wines2Whales” McDougall stated. “I’m glad we were able to establish a 1 minute and 30 second advantage on Stage 2 because it would have been very stressful sprinting for second on the general classification today.”
 
“When I started cycling, as a 10-year-old, there were so few girls riding that I was the under 12 boys’ time trial champion,” laughed Mari Rabie. “So, to be able to now take part in a women’s only mountain bike race is very special. I really appreciate what FNB Wines2Whales and Woolworths have done in creating this event for us. I’m sure that even for the non-elite women it made a massive difference to their enjoyment of the event.”

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The sub-veteran’s category was won by Nicola Walker and Kate Slegrova. The Woolworths Pretty Pedal team won all three stages with Almari de Milander and Su-Mari Visser finishing second, ahead of Claudia Schonitz and Diane Obree. In the Dimension Data Veteran women’s race the Titletoria Ladies, Fienie Barnard and Hanlie Booyens were in imperious form. They not only won all three stages but also set a faster time than the younger sub-veterans category winners. Barnard and Booyens were joined on the overall category podium by Jane Seggie and Michelle Lombardi, as well as Jeanie De Villiers and Marleen Lourens.

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FNB Wines2Whales Chardonnay:
Stage 3 | Elite Women:
1. Faces Rola: Candice Lill & Mariske Strauss (3:21:20)
2. Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Amy McDougall (3:25:21 | +4:01)
3. Galileo Infiniti SPOT: Kim le Court & Mari Rabie (3:25:22 | +4:02)
 
Stage 3 | Sub-Veteran Women
1. Woolworths Pretty Pedal: Nicola Walker & Kate Slegrova (4:12:59)
2. Computer Mania Ladies: Almari de Milander & Su-Mari Visser (4:23:55 | +10:56)
3. Rehidrat Sport: Claudia Schonitz & Diane Obree (5:12:55| +59:56)
 
Stage 3 | Veteran Women
1. Titletoria Ladies: Fienie Barnard & Hanlie Booyens (3:58:55)
2. J&M Masters Ladies: Jane Seggie & Michelle Lombardi (4:01:39 | +2:45)
3. Citricom Girls: Jeanie De Villiers & Marleen Lourens (4:02:39 | +3:44)
 
General Classification after Stage 3 | Elite Women
1. Faces Rola: Candice Lill & Mariske Strauss (9:25:07)
2. Fairtree: Jennie Stenerhag & Amy McDougall (9:34:45| +9:38)
3. Galileo Infiniti SPOT: Kim le Court & Mari Rabie (9:36:12 | +11:05)
 
General Classification after Stage 3 | Sub-Veteran Women
1. Woolworths Pretty Pedal: Nicola Walker & Kate Slegrova (11:47:44)
2. Computer Mania Ladies: Almari de Milander & Su-Mari Visser (12:23:05 | +35:21)
3. Rehidrat Sport: Claudia Schonitz & Diane Obree (13:58:22 | +2:10:37)
 
General Classification after Stage 3 | Veteran Women
1. Titletoria Ladies: Fienie Barnard & Hanlie Booyens (11:02:47)
2. J&M Masters Ladies: Jane Seggie & Michelle Lombardi (11:18:48 | +16:01)
3. Citricom Girls: Jeanie De Villiers & Marleen Lourens (11:33:52 | +31:07)

Full results available here.