Amy McDougall made the most of her technical skills to win the Bezhoek Extreme MTB Festival at the Bezhuidenhoutshoek Nature Reserve on Sunday.
“I had to capitalise on my strength, which is technical riding, and that’s how I managed to get ahead,” McDougall said.
The three-day mountain-bike stage race kicked off with a 25km night ride prologue. This was followed by an 89km stage the next day, with a 45km stage rounding off the festivities on the final day.
“The event was certainly one for the books. Stage two was super rough and technical and pushed everyone to their limits. The fast final stage finished off a superb weekend,” said McDougall, who won all three stages.
Second place overall went to Robyn de Groot, with Sarah Hill third.
McDougall said the night race consisted of three laps of 8km, each starting with a monster tar climb.
“Robyn, Sarah, Theresa [Ralph] and I were together for the first lap and then Robyn and I broke away on the second one.
“We stayed together the whole way and sprinted for the last piece of single-track before the finish. I managed to get in first which lined me up for the line and I won by one second.”
The dormakaba rider said the second day was very technical and physical, but the terrain was to her liking.
“The rocky technical terrain suited me, so I knew I needed to capitalise there.”
She established a gap about 23km into the race while going through a technical section and “just rode hard and consistently towards the end, making the most of the descents and really had fun doing it”.
“Day three was a fast and less technical ride. It was a bit of cat and mouse when I broke away early, but Robyn caught me and then I attacked up a rocky climb about 20km in and managed to extend the gap until the finish.”
McDougall said it was a competitive ladies field, even though Yolandi du Toit pulled out at the last minute, Samantha Sanders fell ill a few days before and Ralph had to withdraw due to illness after the first stage.
“That left Robyn and Sarah. Robyn is obviously super strong and needs no introduction; it’s always a pleasure racing against her. Sarah really impressed me. She’s extremely skilled and her form has improved in leaps and bounds this year and it’s exciting seeing her mixing it up with us.”
McDougall, who went into the race to claim the title, said it always felt good to win and her season had been successful thus far.
“I’ve only been with my team for a month and my results have been testimony to what a difference having the support of a proper sponsor makes.
“The move to Cape Town has been fantastic too, and being in a good mental place plays a big role.”