Stage 1

65km & 1 700m Climbing

Lourensford Wine Estate to Oak Valley Wine Estate

The elegant Lourensford Wine Estate marks the start of your three-day journey to Onrus. The climbing starts almost immediately with a long and fairly steep gravel drag taking you up to Lourensford Nek. From the summit, on a clear day, you will be able to enjoy spectacular views of Stellenbosch and Cape Town. A long and steep downhill follows, so please take heed – it’s very fast with tight, blind corners and water drainage humps. While you’re still on the Lourensford estate you’ll get to experience two new trails – Old Pine and JK’s Contour – and veterans of the W2W might notice that some trails from earlier years have been reintroduced, including Schoeman’s, Witboom and Canarie. Water Point 1 arrives before the notoriously steep Vergelegen climb – it’s the toughest climb in the race but it’s not very long and the reward is a relatively easy passage to Water Point 2 at Idiom Vineyards, which doubles as a superb spectator point. The iconic challenge of the day comes in the form of the historic Gantouw Pass – an old ox wagon trail and compulsory portage section where you can still see the grooves worn in the rocks by the Voortrekkers’ wagon wheels. The reward on the other side is some of the best singletrack in the country – the fabled A2Z network of Grabouw, where you’ll whizz down the A2N trails in the run into the Grabouw Country Club and the day’s Land Rover Experience. Willie’s Trail provides the first of Route and Vehicle partner’s Land Rover’s designated singletracks for the race and it is undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating sections of the route. The last 10km to the finish in Oak Valley offers a mix of singletracks and open vineyard roads, but blaze a new trail to the race village through Glen Elgin farm. If you listen closely before you get to Oak Valley you’ll hear the race commentators welcoming riders home for a well-earned meal and recovery drink (or two).

Lourensford and Vergelegen climbs, portage over Gantouw Pass, A2N singletracks and Waterfall trail.

Willie’s Trail provides the first of the events’ designated Land Rover Experience trails. Located in the run in to the Grabouw Country Club and the final water point of the day it provides riders with the chance to test their skills and fitness, assured of the opportunity to refresh themselves right after they complete the segment. The trail head is within easy walking distance from the spectator point at the Country Club so expect fans to line sections of the tight and twisting singletrack. If the weather heats up the some sandy corners could provide an extra challenge, but if FNB W2W experiences a damp year it is sure to run fast throughout the three events.
Strava: FNB W2W | Willie’s Trail

Don’t get sucked in by the hype, nerves and emotions at the start – cycle at your own pace and find a rhythm, there’s still 60km to go. Stay calm and modulate your brakes on the downhills: they’re fast and somewhat technical at speed.

Good quality gravel roads, dual tracks and singletracks. Gantouw Pass is the only portage section in the race – it’s steep, rocky and exposed to the elements.