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De Groot dashes to win

Robyn de Groot got the year off to triumphant start for her Momentum Toyota team when she sprinted to victory from a small breakaway group to win The New Fast One 106-kilometre road cycling race on Sunday.

The 29-year-old De Groot clocked a winning time of 2hr 48min 46sec for the undulating course at South Africa’s traditional season-opening road race, which took place at a new venue, Midvaal Raceway, south of Johannesburg in overcast, breezy conditions. Charlotte van der Merwe and young Heidi Dalton were second and third respectively.

After a fast start, which saw the large women’s lead pack pass through 30km in 42 minutes, a number of breakaway attempts were nullified before Dalton, a first-year Junior on the Toyota CSA Academy team, put in a big attack. The two big teams in the race, MTN Qhubeka and Momentum Toyota, were quick to send riders after her, with Van der Merwe and De Groot covering the move.

ÔÇ£It was still quite early in the race and there was definitely a wind to contend with so I didn’t think that move would stick,ÔÇØ said De Groot afterwards. ÔÇ£But before we knew it we had 30 seconds, then over a minute on the pack.ÔÇØ

Each rider committed to the move completely, taking turns to keep the pace high and the rhythm constant.

ÔÇ£As we built up more of a lead, it became more likely that we’d stay clear. There were times when our lead dropped a bit, but it peaked at around four minutes in the latter stages, which was just as well because we missed a turn with about 10 kays to go and had to double back which lost us time,ÔÇØ explained De Groot.

In the final stretch, De Groot and Van der Merwe refused to let the other gain a positional advantage ahead of the sprint, so were riding virtually shoulder-to-shoulder. Dalton noticed the stalemate situation and seized the opportunity to start the sprint. Van der Merwe reacted and pulled De Groot along and then De Groot kicked with just under 200 metres to go to secure the win.

ÔÇ£Heidi went a bit soon in the sprint, which is probably a combination of inexperience and excitement, but it worked out well for me because I was then in a good position. I started my sprint where I wanted to; but you know, you’re always a bit unsure whether it might be too early or too late,ÔÇØ smiled De Groot.

It turned out to be a well-timed sprint, giving De Groot and Momentum Toyota a confidence-boosting start to the year.

ÔÇ£I’m not sure my form is that good right now, but the win was a nice bonus. We have a very important European campaign in a couple of months and we want to be sharp for that. Our base training was extended a bit so we’ll be in form later than last year, but definitely in time for SA champs in the first week of March,ÔÇØ said De Groot.

De Groot’s teammate, Cherise Taylor, won the bunch sprint to claim fourth place.

The New Fast One, 106km
Leading women’s result
1 Robyn de Groot (Momentum Toyota) 2hr48min46sec
2 Charlotte van der Merwe (MTN Qhubeka)
3 Heidi Dalton (Toyota CSA Academy) all same time
4 Cherise Taylor (Momentum Toyota) 2:53:37
5 Lynette Burger (Toyota CSA Academy)
6 Ashleigh Moolman (Momentum Toyota)
7 Anna Watkinson
8 Danniele Dalton (Toyota CSA Academy)
9 Leandri Du Toit
10 Karien van Jaarsveld (MTN Qhubeka) all same time


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