Simpson’s winning time was 6:04:52, while De Villiers finished the 170km course in 6:22:08.
The circular route featured tarred sections and three gravel stretches that covered 79km, with the final 28km climb over the gravel Swartberg Pass.
“I didn’t really have a clear objective. I just wanted to make it to the bottom of Swartberg with the first group because I knew if you make it to the bottom then you stand a chance,” said Simpson, who is a 23-year-old student at the University of Cape Town.
He added that the first split was at the 20km mark when 10 riders got away from the bunch and rode together until 100km into the race.
“David [George] then attacked and that bunch split. He got to the bottom of Swartberg first. A group of three riders then formed, with me and Chris [Wolhuter] just behind them at the bottom of the pass.
“I caught that group of three and managed to leave them and catch David halfway up the climb. My legs started getting better as I climbed and I managed to hold on to the finish,” said Simpson, who made his debut in the Gran Fondo event and recently placed third overall in the Liberty Winelands MTB Encounter with teammate Alexander Rohrer.
Next up for the young mountain biker is the sani2c Race, which he will tackle with Luke Evans as team First Ascent.
“I chose to ride on my mountain bike, which I was very happy about as I could go down the Swartberg Pass fast.
“It’s an awesome event and I’m so happy to have won,” she said.
The Swartberg 100, which was cancelled last year due to flash floods, is one of the toughest Gran Fondos in the world. These types of races cover long distances and difficult climbs over tough terrain.
The 55km Medio Fondo men’s race was won by Braam Wannenburg, who finished in 1:45:15. The women’s title went to Ashleigh Parsons after 1:57:40.