Varsity Sports has become one of South Africa’s most recognisable sporting brands. The organisation promotes university football, netball, basketball, athletics hockey, cricket and of course mountain biking between the country’s foremost institutions of higher education. In 2019 the Varsity MTB race will form part of the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event and as a result boast three days of scintillating racing.
By forming part of the mid-week Pinotage event in the FNB Wines2Whales series of races, the students taking part will be treated to one of South Africa’s premier stage racing experiences. They will race the full course, from Lourensford to Oak Valley and on to Onrus over the three days of the race. The extended format will ensure that the strongest mountain biking team, from one of the country’s top six cycling universities, will be crowned 2019 Varsity MTB champions.
Bonga Sebesho, Head of Sponsorships at FNB said they are excited that FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event will host Varsity MTB. “This symbiotic event epitomises our strategy of unearthing and supporting talent from the grassroots levels to professional sport in South Africa. Mountain biking is a growing sport in South Africa and there is a growing number of students who are participating in the sport. We see this event as an enabler for students to develop their skills and showcase their talent. FNB will continue to invest in creating a pipeline of talent in all the different sporting codes that we support,” he concluded.
Xhanti-Lomzi Nesi from Varsity Sports echoed Sebesho’s sentiments. “We’re extremely excited to have the return of Varsity MTB. We watched the teams take part at the USSA MTB and there are some very strong riders that will relish the opportunity to take part in the prestigious FNB W2W. It is our goal through all our sporting codes to provide a platform for talent to flourish and this will be no different. We look forward to seeing our riders in action and partnering with the ever growing successful FNB W2W race.”
“Varsity MTB is a rad event because it’s super unique,” enthused the 2017 women’s champion Frankie du Toit. Du Toit won the event alongside her Maties teammate Nicky Giliomee that year. “You’re competing against your peers, other university students, on amazing trails and just having a good time,” the Stellenbosch Sport Science student explained.
Teams from Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town, North-West University, University of Pretoria, Nelson Mandela University and the Tshwane University of Technology, will be invited to compete. Each of the six universities will be invited to send two teams; either men’s, women’s or one of each.
The Varsity MTB teams will have the honour of being individually called up to an AA start batch on Stage 1 of the race, thereafter they will start with the rest of the field in a batch determined by each team’s overall time.
“The Varsity MTB is going to add #SeriousGEES to the 2019 Pinotage race,” Michael Flinn, the Managing Director of FNB Wines2Whales said. “I think I can speak for the whole team when I say I look back fondly on my varsity days. I’m sure that the Varsity MTB forming part of the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage will provide participating students with memories which will last them a lifetime. Memories I’m sure they’ll forge on and off the bike at what is a famously social event. They will no doubt be a force to be reckoned with both on the trails and in the CBC Chill Zone” he concluded with a knowing smile.