De Groot humble about her chances at world champs

2014-06-05 00:00

ON-FORM South African women’s MTB Marathon Champion Robyn de Groot has her sights set on the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in her own backyard later this month, having finished in the top 20 of the 2013 edition, but the Gauteng star is remaining on the conservative side when predicting her chances for this year’s event at the Cascades MTB Park, Pietermaritzburg, on Sunday, June 29.

The Team Biogen Toyota star has been in red-hot form in recent months with a number of top performances under her belt, with the most recent being a win at the Nissan Trailseeker last weekend.

The national championships are coming up this weekend and De Groot has her eyes focused on defending her national champion’s jersey. “It has been a good few weeks for me,” the 2014 sani2c winner said. “It is always good to race as much as possible and although managing my work and my training can be difficult, my focus is doing the best I can to retain my national champs jersey.”

The national marathon showpiece will give the riders a better idea of what to expect when the World Championships come around and De Groot believes that this sort of advantage is something that the local riders must embrace.

“We are going to have a really strong field at the SA Champs, which means that it is going to be a good gauge as to which riders to look out for but also to get a feel of the conditions. It is the perfect dress rehearsal for us before Worlds.

“With the national champs and the world champs at the same venue it is a great opportunity for South African riders to do well,” she added.

Having come 19th at the World Championships in 2013, De Groot feels that she can go better but is a little wary when comparing herself to the international riders, considering she rarely competes against them besides for the international events.

“It is quite hard to set goals for events like the World Champs when you have no one to compare yourself to because I never go overseas to race against these other girls. I know that the field is going to be really strong and it is hard to judge but if I could get myself into the top 15 at the end of the race that would be great for me,” a cautious De Groot said.

There are a number of races in the remaining three weeks before the World Championships with the MTN MTB Series race in Hilton just a week before the World Champs. De Groot thinks that a number of the international riders will use the Hilton race as an opportunity to become accustomed to the terrain and conditions a week before the main event.

De Groot believes that this will give her the opportunity to suss out the international competition but she does not feel that it will be a fair reflection on the competition that she will face during the World Championships seven days later.

“We have got a lot of races following the SA Champs before the Worlds and I think the Hilton race will be a good one in terms of getting used to the conditions as well as seeing the other international riders taking part,”she said. “Although it is going to be good seeing the other girls ride I don’t think that we can read too much into the race because with such a big race a week later I think everyone will ride the race a little more conservatively.”

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