The dormakaba duo of Robyn de Groot and Amy McDougall start the FNB Wines2Whales on the front foot, having won Berg and Bush, just three weeks before. We spoke to them about their preparation and how they were feeling ahead of the richest three-day stage race in the sport.
FNB Wines2Whales: Robyn & Amy, firstly congratulations on your Berg & Bush win. Was that the first time you two have raced together as a partnership? And how are you feeling as a team/combination ahead of FNB Wines2Whales?
Robyn de Groot: Thank you, we had a good weekend there racing as team dormakaba for the first time. It was definitely a good exercise as a “pre-run” for the FNB Wines2Whales; it’s still a new partnership but we worked nicely together. The depth of the field at this year’s W2W is going to be strong with internationals being drawn to come and race. I am certain the racing will be tight and exciting.
Amy McDougall: Yes, it was the first time we’ve ridden as a team. Berg and Bush was a great dry run in that we got a feel of what it’s like to partner up and we got to know each other on and off the bike which was great!
FNB W2W: Robyn, what a difference a year makes! Last year this time you were pretty down and contemplating the dangers of the vascular surgery you were about to have. Now you’ve just won a bronze medal at the XCM World Championships. Is it safe to say you are back to your best?
RdG: So true! Last year this time was an extremely difficult time physically, emotionally and mentally for me. I was very down with so many questions and unknowns in my mind, about whether to have the surgery, how to fund my surgery and rehabilitation and the question about what lay ahead for the future. Without a doubt the surgery was worthwhile, I feel like a totally different athlete and for sure the results I had in Europe have put me in a good space leading into this year’s event. It’s been an incredible journey. I wouldn’t change a thing.
FNB W2W: Amy, you’ve also had surgery this year. Are you happy with your recovery thus far and with FNB Wines2Whales essentially being the last opportunity of the year to race at a high level, do you approach it looking to end a difficult year on a high?
AM: It’s been a tumultuous year indeed but definitely seems to be ending on a high. The surgery took longer than expected to heal properly, but it was well worth the wait because I can finally get air into my lungs during intense efforts which is a great feeling!
FNB W2W: It looks like the 2019 W2W Chardonnay race could feature the most competitive elite women’s field in the event’s 11-year history. Who do you see as your main rivals?
RdG: What great news – the women’s race this year is going to be so exciting! It has progressively drawn more and more riders, including international athletes with notable palmarès. All of the riders in the 2019 field will be riders to watch, everyone has their own right to be respected for sure!
AM: Yes, as Robs says, the field is stacked with elites which is so exciting! It could literally be any one of the teams who take the title!