2017 SA National MTB Marathon Champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) finished in tenth place and Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) in fifteenth at the 2017 UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in Singen, Germany on Sunday 25 June. Denmark’s Anika Langvad, Germany’s Sabine Spitz and Norway’s Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa grabbed the first, second and third respective titles in the Elite Women’s 80km race. In the Elite Men’s 98km race, Austria’s Alban Lakata, Portugal’s Tiago Ferreira and Austria’s Daniel Geismayr claimed the respective gold, silver and bronze medals.
De Groot and McDougall were part of the team selected to represent South Africa at the Championships, along with Nico Bell, Sithembiso Masanga, Max Knox and Philip Buys.
Reflecting back on the race, De Groot said: “I have to be honest, I haven’t had the best prep leading up to Worlds as I did have a little bit of a difficult period. I am happy with the top ten though, considering how I have been feeling on the bike over the past few weeks. I’m happy with how I rode yesterday but I definitely know that I can do better. I’m leaving feeling inspired and super motivated to up my game and do better next time.”
De Groot mentioned a special shout out everyone who helped her get to Worlds. “Thank you to Cycling SA for working with my team Ascendis Health to make it all work. And a big thank you to 3 Towers Stage Race who also contributed financially towards some of the expenses – which really isn’t his responsibility. Thanks for believing in us and contributing towards mountain biking and marathon. I have no doubt that if we invest a lot more energy and focus we can definitely go for gold,” she said.
Cycling South Africa’s MTB Commission Director, Brett Coates was impressed by the performance of the riders, especially the women. “It was just awesome,” he added.
Coates said that the course appeared to suite the cross-country riders a bit more. “Not that it was particularly technical, but it was punchy, and the climbs weren’t massively long,” he said.
“It was a fantastic set of results, and a huge well done to Amy Beth as well – I think we’re going to be seeing some fireworks from her as she heads off to take on the next two cross-country World Cup races,” said Coates.