Although by no means the biggest win of her career, Sanders said consistent performances were proof of her growth.
“I’ve had a few races where I’ve surprised myself, which has been great for my personal growth as a rider,” said Sanders, who finished second overall at sani2c in May after winning the opening stage.
“Mentally you always try to see what happens when you don’t give up, it’s been great in that sense because I feel like I’ve grown mentally as an athlete.
“Once you start believing you can do it, everything falls into place.”
She said while she knew there was work to be done during her off-season, she was confident she would be able to handle whatever 2018 threw at her.
“I’m really excited to see where the racing goes. I definitely will be kicking it up another level in terms of performance, but I’m definitely happy with this season.”
Sanders, who rode for Cycle Nation yesterday, said she had been taking it easy after a gruelling Wines2Whales Race, where she and teammate Amy McDougall finished third overall.
Having spent a few days off the bike, “relaxing and eating things I don’t normally get to eat”, Sanders said her only expectation for the weekend had been to enjoy herself.
She started in the A batch and the racing was hard from the start. The 34-year-old did her best to stick the pace of the elite men, leaving the women’s field far behind in the process.
“I’m lucky in that I can start really hard and fast, so I did just that and didn’t look back once,” she said.
Sanders led the women’s field as they passed through Northern Farms, Steyn City and HeronBridge College, some of which was new territory for her.
“When the men rode off I settled into my own rhythm and rode by myself all the way.
“It was quite tough, considering you do quite a bit of climbing for a 55km route, but very well marked and marshalled. I was really pleasantly surprised and I had a good time out there.”
With the end of her season in sight, the road race next weekend will be Sanders’ final race for the year.
Expecting a tough field, she said her aim was to give it her all before making the most of her well-deserved break.