The dormakaba duo said initially the plan was to achieve stage victories and aim for a top general classification placing. But another goal was added during the weekend.
“On hearing that all the prize money was for the hill climb up Spioenkop on Saturday afternoon this also became the main objective. We were fortunate enough to tick all the boxes,” said the 36-year-old De Groot.
McDougall added that one of the boxes they ticked was achieving a first place for De Groot and second place for herself on Spioenkop.
“This was the primary result-driven goal due to all the prize money. Candice Lill came third, Theresa Ralph fourth and Sarah Hill fifth.”
De Groot said that victory always felt good.
“I’m happy. It’s a nice way to kick off some racing in SA again.”
Having joined dormakaba in June, De Groot said it was the first time she had teamed up with McDougall in a stage race.
“We had a wonderful three days of racing and had time to get to know one another a little better.”
McDougall added that although the win was a great bonus for them, they had also used the event as a dry run for the upcoming Wines2Whales.
“Robyn is just world-class at the moment and it was really inspiring to see.
“I witnessed how badly she struggled with her injury over the past couple of years and seeing her journey back to health, never mind her current form, is just an inspiration,” said the 30-year-old.
The pair managed to claim all the stage wins, finishing with a total time of 8:30:49. Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill placed second overall, just under seven minutes back, with Nina Hind and Robyn Assad third.
The event featured routes of 94km, 70km and 50km.
“The final stage was a short fun one,” said De Groot. “We had a good start and managed to get away early on. From there we stayed away for the remaining kilometres and rode together at a nice and comfortable rhythm.
“It also had a flattish start, which led into some amazing singletrack climbing.
“A little later we then landed up at the base of Spioenkop which rewarded us at the top with some unbelievably fun singletracks and a bit of jeep track leading us to Em’Seni where we concluded the stage with another victory.”
McDougall added that they enjoyed the route on stage three.
“The final descent was arguably the best of the entire event – smiles all around.”
De Groot said the weather was hot dry and dusty throughout, but she did not believe it had a big effect on them.
“We started at 6.30am every day, so we were done before any major heat or weather factors could play a part.”