Van Gaalen – Double defending South African Marathon champion Robyn de Groot is locked in a race against time to try and shrug off a viral problem in time for the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubles up as the 2015 South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl, just three weeks away.
De Groot, who transitioned to mountain biking after a successful road racing career that took her to the London 2012 Olympics, has been battling with illness since the ABSA Cape Epic in March and has only recently returned to training.
She had to pull out of the recent Nedbank sani2c due to post viral fatigue syndrome caused by a Coxsakie B virus strain. Although she was in the mix to ride the world’s largest multi-stage race she was unable to take part and the Ascendis Health rider is frustrated with what has happened to her over the past few months.
“Things really haven’t gone to plan for me and there have been a number of spanners being thrown into the works with regards to my goals for the year,” de Groot said. “It just all happened at a really bad time for me and it isn’t something that I can change so I just have to work with what I have.”
With the defending champions tag to try and defend de Groot is trying to prepare for the SA MTB Marathon Champs powered by Stihl as well as she possibly can but the 33 year old understands that she is not where she wanted to be in her training but is able to see the positive side of her illness.
“When I go out and train some days are good and some are bad but I am just really glad that I am able to get back on my bike and ride again!
“Initially I tried to fight it but the doctors told me that there was no use and I would do more damage to myself so I have accepted that my goals have now shifted to later in the year but I will definitely be at the national champs giving everything that I have!” she added positively.
Being back on her bike has given de Groot a chance to get herself ready for the national title but getting competitive racing in has been difficult for her as she tries to get some miles in her legs before heading to the North West province to defend her title.
“Just being back on my bike is a better position than I was a few weeks ago so that is something positive that I am taking out of this whole ordeal but I have had to sideline a lot of my planned races which has been frustrating.
“What has come about is that I have been told to not plan too far ahead and just take each day as it comes so I am deciding on races the day before because the goal at the moment is just to get to the finish line,” mentioned de Groot.
Being born and bred in Johannesburg de Groot mentions that she is not unfamiliar with the conditions and the terrain that she will encounter in the North West Province at Van Gaalen which is another positive that the two-time champion has singled out.
“I do know the area reasonably well and I know the conditions that we are going to get because I am from Johannesburg so I have had a chance to ride out there before so I have that in my favour however I am going to have to still race smart and train well before.
“I am going to try and get out there to train when I can so that I can familiarise myself with the course more and hopefully that will also be a benefit for me when the race comes around,” she explained.
Online pre-entries for the 2015 SA MTB Marathon Champs powered by Stihl – which doubles up as the fourth round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen – are now open and close at 06:00 on Tuesday 2 June 2015. To enter, click here: http://www.nationalmtbseries.com/theseries/races/vangaalen. Late entries will be accepted on the day, with an additional nominal fee of R50. This event is not limited to the championship contenders and is open to the public.
For more information, including the programme of events, visit http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-sa-mtb-marathon-champs and http://www.nationalmtbseries.com/theseries/races/vangaalen.