The tour was won by Vital Concept-B&B Hotels’ Lorrenzo Manzin from France.
The seven-day race usually comes down to a sprint finish and ProTouch’s Du Plooy said the team originally banked on renowned sprinter Reynard Butler flying its flag at the end.
Unfortunately Butler crashed out of the race in stage two which meant Du Plooy, after finishing seventh in stage one, took over the reins.
“The first day was very surprising. I didn’t expect it,” Du Plooy told In the Bunch today.
“But once you see that you’re in the running and capable of finishing among the very best out there it became very motivating.
“I gained a lot of experience from that, trying to pace yourself and place yourself in the right positions to actually have a run for the finish.”
He said the team had a plan for each day and with Butler forced to withdraw they had to change their strategy.
Du Plooy finished in the top-10 in five of the seven stages, which he said was an added bonus.
“It was really blue for us when Reynard crashed out. We were planning to lead him out for the finishes because he is the fastest sprinter in our team.
“I’m not a pure sprinter, but I had to step up and just try to do what he was able to achieve for the team.”
The SA team raced against some pro-Continental teams in the tour which included the likes of internationally-known riders such as Bonifazio, Adrien Petit, Matteo Pelucchi, Maxime Cam as well as German legend Andre Greipel.
“The race was pretty much the pinnacle point of Continental racing,” Du Plooy said.
“I think there’s only one level higher than this for Continental teams to race and the next step would be WorldTour racing. You can’t compare it to any race in SA.”
Du Plooy added that while it was daunting racing against such an imposing field, he and the team had not backed down.
“We respected the other riders for who they were but we didn’t just sit at the back and have an easy day out. We were there to race and get results.
“We achieved more than what we thought we would,” he said, with his other teammate Jayde Julius winning the sprinters classification.
The tour’s profile was somewhat deceiving, Du Plooy said after their first observations of the routes.
“We thought it was going to be flat,” he said. “But our biggest day was about 2 400m of climbing and the smallest 1 600m. It wasn’t flat by any means.
“It was very roly, twisty and turny. The experience of the bigger teams just controlled the race in such a way that it came down to a bunch sprint.”
He and the team will next focus on the national road champs in Pretoria from February 7 to 10.