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De Groot’s biking dream lives on… now for Austria

By Mark Etheridge

The dream for road biker turned mountain biker, Robyn de Groot continued this week with her inclusion on Team South Africa for the UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships in Austria later this month.

After being part of the SA road cycling team at last year’s Olympics in London, De Groot opted to switch codes and rather dabble in the ‘dirty world’ of mountain biking.

Despite the fact that she’s still riding sponsorless, her transition has been little short of remarkable and she was recently crowned national MTB marathon champion.

Now her new code takes her to Kirchberg for the World Championships on 29 June and the Johannesburg cyclist has had to make last-minute travel plans once more.

“I’d packed my passport away last year already, thinking I was going to be taking on South African soil and settling my life down a little this year. But after this latest news, I’ve taken my dusty passport out, and am getting ready to head to Europe again,” the busy bio-kineticist told Road to Rio 2016.

“I won’t lie, I have missed the European travel at times, and have often thought back of the amazing opportunities that cycling has provided me in the past.. and all the places I was lucky enough for it to take me. Life is an amazing place. It’s funny how as one door closes, so often another opens and sometimes In places you never imagined. Oscar Wilde has a fitting quote: ‘Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”.

One thing that hasn’t changed is her desire to wear the green and gold. “Representing my country has always been something I honour, and I’m very proud to be a part of Team SA for the Marathon World championships. It’s an absolute privilege, that CSA has made this a possibility for all of the selected athletes.”

As for expectations as she still tries to find her feet (wheels?) in the world of mountain biking? “I have no idea what to expect. I’ve represented SA at the UCI Road world Championships on four occasions, so I knew what to expect there but I guess one has to treat every bike race, no matter how big or small… like a bike race, and not let the size of the event ever overwhelm you.

“At the end of the day, once the start horn goes, it’s all about riding your bike…. the same thing you do out in training, the same thing you do in local races.

“I have done as much research as I can about the course and it looks like a gruelling, hilly course with a good 3000 metres of ascending. With 15 days to go to race day, there isn’t too much I am able to change, other than to up my tempo a little, but otherwise I have to stick to what has brought me this far.

“It is going to be wonderful that there are three of us in the race, and I look forward to representing South Africa alongside Candice and Samantha.”

De Groot now has national colours for road and MTB marathon “and to be perfectly honest it is one that I’ve stumbled across by chance.”

The full team to represent South Africa in Austria is:

Elite Men: Max Knox, Charles Keey, Lourens Luus, Nico Bell
Elite Women: Robyn de Groot, Samantha Sanders, Candice Neethling


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