De Groot Crowned The Queen of Clarens

The Ascendis Health rider outsprinted her main rivals to win the 69km Stage 1 narrowly and then pedaled to a more convincing win on the 54km Stage 2 to secure the maximum points for the event and claim the Round 3 victory. Second place went to Team dormakaba’s Candice Lill, with her Namibian teammate, Vera Adrian claiming third place.

On Stage 1 a lead group of six riders formed after the first long climb comprising De Groot, Lill, Adrian, Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk), Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia). Just before halfway on the main climb of the day, De Groot, Adrian, Lill and Sanders rode clear with Sanders dropping off higher up on the ascent.

De Groot let the dormakaba pair set the pace to the finish and then outsprinted them to claim the victory in a time of 2:51:28. Lill was second and Adrian third.

On Stage 2, Sanders was the primary aggressor, setting the pace on the early singletrack and ascents. But De Groot managed to get a solid lead up the main climb near the finish and stayed clear to win in a time of 2:21:05. Lill followed her home less than a minute and a half later in 2:22:28 with Adrian rounding out the podium another 45 seconds later.

“I managed to ride clear of the others up the main climb near the end. I had a little tumble, which slowed me down and I lost a bit of my rhythm, but I managed to pick it up again and stay ahead until the finish,” said De Groot after the finish of Stage 2.

“The trails were really nice today compared to yesterday. A lot more challenging with more singletrack and some beautiful views. It’s been great to spend a weekend racing in Clarens,” smiled De Groot.

“The two-day format makes the racing a lot more competitive and you have to plan well to ensure you are in contention for both days and the overall. It’s a lot more exciting than the previous format,” added De Groot.

“Robyn went on one of the climbs near the end, which is what I was expecting. I was trying to stay within sight of her but just couldn’t get any closer before the finish,” said Lill.

“Racing with Candice I have had to up my mountain bike game. I’m very happy with my result. I enjoyed these two days because they were short and fast and the scenery here is just amazing,” said Adrian.

With both stage times combined, De Groot’s winning time was 5:12:33, 1:24 ahead of runner-up Lill with Adrian rounding out the podium in 5:14:49. Sanders ended up in fourth place with Du Toit claiming fifth.

Round 4 of the 2017 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series is another two-day race format on 10 and 11 June at Champagne Valley in the Central Drakensberg. To enter or for more information, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com

Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za