Reigning Champions, Erik Kleinhans and James Reid of Team Spur Topeak Ergon completed the 2015 event in an impressive combined time of 08 hours 17 minutes 19 seconds.
Kleinhans has had a stellar season raking in victories at a number of SA’s praised MTB events including the Fedhealth MTB Challenge and the Cell C Arabella MTB Challenge.
“The decision to race W2W is pretty much made by itself,” says Kleinhans. “Apart from it being a big race for the podium, it is also a great event as a whole with some really cool routes, a super relaxing atmosphere and very good organization. Our first objective is always to be on the podium, but naturally we all fight for the top spot. Apart from a stack of motivated SA teams, there will also be some motivated Europeans. My vote however is that our toughest competition will come from the Swiss pairing of Konny Looser and Fabian Giger of the Kross Bikes BiXS Pro Team.”
According to current SA Elite XCO Champion, James Reid, the added prize purse is also a big incentive. “W2W is a great race on local trails with a really nice vibe. Our team strength will include tactical riding and trail knowledge. The inclusion of more European riders increases the competition. This definitely adds a bit of pressure.”
Philip Buys and Arno du Toit of Team Scott LCB Factory Racing will also be gunning for gold. “I’ve taken part in W2W twice, but only for fun during my off season,” says Buys. “This year the event fits perfectly into my racing season. It’s always a great, fun event to end the year off with. I am really looking forward to the trails.”
Du Toit will celebrate his W2W debut in 2016. “I’ve heard many awesome war stories about W2W and am super happy for the opportunity to take part this year,” says Du Toit. “My goal will be to ride fast and have a great time. I am also looking forward to finally seeing what all the stories and hype is about.”
Team USN Purefit’s Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock are also top contenders for the podium. According to Lill, the route and the vibe make W2W special. “Although all three routes are great, Stage Three is my favorite as reaching the sea is really special.”
“The event’s great reputation and prize purse was a huge drawcard to enter,” admits Woolcock. “To me W2W is special because it’s so close to home. The routes are challenging, but enjoyable at the same time. I really enjoy Stage One. The portage over Gantouw Pass is something different.”
Team NAD’s Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck from Nelspruit Mpumalanga have also set their sights on a podium finish. “Considering the international competition, a podium finish would be great,” says Bell. “Everyone on the start line will be considered competition.”
“We enjoy W2W,” says Combrinck. “The good vibe at the festival village and the fun trails are what make W2W really special. We’ll face tough competition from both local and international riders. Our goal will, however, be to win.”
South Africa’s Elites will face tough competition from the following international teams: Team Investec-Songo-Specialized’s Christoph Sauser (Switzerland) with Sam Gaze (New Zealand), Team Bulls’ German pairing of Karl Platt with Simon Stiebjahn, another German pairing of Johannes Fröhlinger and Markus Bauer of Team Giant Alpecin Kreidler and Swiss mountain bikers Konny Looser and Fabian Giger of Team BiXS Pro.