Candice Lill stamped her mark on the sixth round of the National MTB Series as she led from start to finish in Dullstroom today.
“Tomorrow is shorter but you should never underestimate how hard a short race can be,” said the dormakaba rider.
“I’ve seen the profile and it’s about the same amount of climbing in a shorter space of time, which means it will be harder.”
The 25-year-old took to the front of today’s race from the start and was able to maintain her lead to the finish.
“I was really cold this morning so I decided to go hard from the beginning to try and stay warm,” she laughed.
“At about 20km I got away and I rode to the Queen of the Mountain, got QOM and then I had quite a nice gap.”
The gap between Lill and Sanders (who had a puncture in the earlier stages) diminished as bad fortune struck in the form of a mechanical.
Lill was forced to stop and fix a puncture 48km in, an unfortunate occurrence that cost her time.
“I was constantly looking over my shoulder when fixing my puncture. Sam was able to close the gap a little so I just had to keep a steady pace to the finish.”
Although she lost some time, it was not enough to undo her hard work and Lill crossed the line victorious. She was followed by Sanders and Yolandi du Toit.
Lill also beat Sanders in a sprint finish at the previous round of the series, which took place in Van Gaalen two months ago.
“It was a very different race to the last round. Today was tougher racing in a way because in the last round there was a long dirt road section in the middle that Sam, Robyn (De Groot) and I rode through together.
“We entered the last part together and that’s only after that where it was all decided.”
Three minutes separate her and Sanders, but Lill said the title for the weekend was still open to anyone.
“I do have a bit of a gap but you have to give it everything until you cross that line because mountain biking can throw in some surprises.”
Series leaders De Groot and Amy McDougall were absent from this weekend’s event due to illness.
Gert Heyns won in the men’s category, followed by Nico Bell and Gert Heyns.