She finished 10th in Germany on Sunday, one-and-a-half minutes behind winner Annika Langvad. De Groot’s Cape Epic partner, Sabine Spitz, placed second with Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa completing the podium.
“Realistically I’m happy with a top 10, considering what I’ve dealt with over the last month,” said De Groot, who have been struggling with her health.
“I shouldn’t be, but I’m disappointed because I know when I’m in top form I can do better.”
The fourth National MTB Series event, which took place in KwaZulu-Natal earlier this month, was De Groot’s last in SA before leaving for Europe, but it didn’t go according to plan.
She finished second on the first day, almost 10 minutes behind Amy McDougall, and did not start the following day.
“It wasn’t exactly the way I would have wanted to prepare for the Worlds, but I had to deal with it. You push on and adapt,” said the Ascendis Health pro.
“I’ve had to alter my training and really listen to my body leading up to this event.”
The former road cyclist has flown the South African flag twice before at the MTB Marathon World Championships.
She placed 19th in 2013 in Austria and the following year made the most of home-soil advantage to finish sixth in Pietermaritzburg.
“The route was quite a tactical one as it featured short, punchy climbs and the terrain didn’t really offer opportunities where one could get away easily,” she assessed the exposed 80km route, which consisted of a 31km opening loop and 49km final lap.
“There was never a consistent tempo as everyone was testing each other on the climbs. The pace would be quite hard before it eased off, then quite hard again.”
She explained it was the single-track section on the second loop that decided the results.
“The pace through there was quite high and while it wasn’t technical, it was tricky hitting that single-track at such high speed.”
Once into the section, only Langvad, who crashed upon entering the single-track, was able to make up ground.
“We were all fairly dispersed at that point and I’d say the positions were pretty much decided from there,” said De Groot.
She returns home next week to compete in the Knysna Cycle Tour MTB Race.
“It’s a town that’s close to my heart so I’m happy to be going back to support that event, especially after all the fires.”