International teams that will be shredding up the course will include German MTB duo, Karl Platt and Simon Stiebjahn of Team Bulls, German Tour De France heroes Markus Bauer and Johannes Fröhlinger of Team Giant Alpecin Kreidler, Team Investec-Songo-Specialized’s Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) with Sam Gaze (New Zealand) and Swiss mountain bikers Konny Looser and Fabian Giger of Team BiXS Pro.

Konny Looser. Photo credit: Tobias Ginsberg

Team Bulls’ Simon Stiebjahn and Karl Platt will make their W2W debut on Friday, 11 November 2016. “I supported some friends at the 2014 event,” says Stiebjahn. “It looked like a lot of fun and the riders only spoke positively about the route. W2W is special for various reasons including the fact that it starts in the wine region and ends close to Hermanus. The event perfectly depicts the diversity and loveliness of the Western Cape.”

Another team making their debut in November will be Markus Bauer and Johannes Fröhlinger of Team Giant Alpecin Kreidler. “Konny Looser told me about the great route and event,” says Bauer. “I am looking forward to the trails and the wine. My goal will be to have a good time, while performing to the fullest.”

Fröhlinger admits to having no MTB race experience. “I entered W2W because I was looking for new experiences and am preparing for the Tour Down Under in January,” says Fröhlinger. “W2W was highly recommended by a few of my friends. My goal is to gain experience, prepare for the road season and most importantly have fun. I am looking forward to experiencing the great sport of mountain biking, in a great country on great terrain.”

A number of SA’s elite riders rate Konny Looser and Fabian Giger of Team BiXS Pro as the team to beat at the 2016 FNB W2W MTB Race. According to Looser, W2W is one of his favorite races of the year. “The event is well organized and features amazing single track,” says Looser. “I am looking forward to great racing at a high level, a relaxed and chilled vibe after the race with good food and a nice glass of wine to end off the season. My goal will be to claim back the title.”

Giger has also set his sights on the podium. “I entered W2W because it is new to me. I am looking forward to a great experience, awesome racing, sweet single track and seeing some wineries.”

The teaming up of Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) with Sam Gaze (New Zealand) of Team Investec-Songo-Specialized is sure to ruffle some feathers at the 2016 FNB W2W MTB Race. Sauser has competed twice at W2W, claiming gold in 2014. “W2W is one of the key events to raise funds for,” says Sauser. “We are proud to be an official charity of the event. Personally I love the characteristic course with its amazing trails, the atmosphere, organization and setup. I am happy to be riding with Sam. He’s an amazing friend and team mate.”

According to Gaze, who is the current U23 Cross-Country World Champion, Christoph has told him a lot about W2W. “Christoph’s wedding is around the same time, so I made sure that I was able to race. I am looking forward to seeing the landscape that the Western Cape provides. This is a beautiful part of our world and I'm excited to see it showcased over the three days of W2W. As I have been Christoph’s student for a while, I’ve picked up on his mentality that we are always on a start line to win,” laughs Gaze.

Elite South African riders to look out for will include: Reigning Champions, Erik Kleinhans and James Reid of Team Spur Topeak Ergon, Philip Buys and Arno du Toit of Team Scott LCB Factory Racing, Team USN Purefit’s Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock and Team NAD’s Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck.