South African Robyn de Groot has done well at previous UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships and hopes to do even better when she lines up for this year’s event in Grachen, Switzerland, on Sunday.
“I’d definitely like to beat my best result at XCM worlds,” said De Groot, who placed sixth at the 2014 event in Pietermaritzburg.
Her first worlds was in 2013 in Austria, where she finished 19th. It was her first year as a mountain-biker and the first time she represented SA in this discipline after switching from the road at the end of 2012.
The dormakaba rider skipped 2016 due to a broken collarbone and humeral head fracture sustained while competing in the Magalies Monster. She placed 10th in Germany in 2017 and 21st last year in Italy.
“I line up at a race aiming for my best result. I’ll always give 100 per cent on the day and give my all.
“I look forward to pushing myself on what seems to be a nice challenging course again. I think sometimes the people back home have no idea about the steepness and length of some of the climbs and descents here in the Alps.”
De Groot, who won the Bike Giro in Feldberg, Germany, last month, said she felt she was in far better shape, both emotionally and physically, than this time last year.
“I’m in a good place. I’ve been training well here in Europe over the past months and the races I have done I have been happy with my results.
“Physically I’m fit and well. My injury and sensations I used to have in my left leg have not shown up again since the surgery.
“I think this is also refreshing for an athlete from a mental and emotional perspective.”
She added that it was a wonderful feeling not to be limited by an injury.
“I’m happy for sure. My form is good as it usually is when I come to worlds.
“Last year’s event featured a gruelling course and my body just couldn’t push hard at all. If I compare that to this year it feels wonderful to feel like a new athlete.
“I have an amazing coach and trust him fully to have me in good form for the race.”
De Groot, 36, added that she and her coach had been working on areas she had been unable to train for in recent years due to the blood-flow problem in her leg.
“We’ve really gone back to basics and have been happy with the response and progress I’ve made since I started training with structure from April.
“My coach looks at my racing and adapts my training according to various season goals and the demands of the events I plan. I have no doubt he has me lining up in the best form he could get me in without causing injury.
“We’ve had some moments where we have had to back off as my body hasn’t been ready to be loaded in that way.”
De Groot said being proudly South African it was always an honour to race for her country and she held world champs in high regard, trained hard for the event and took it seriously while also maintaining balance.
“It’s a one-day race and you have to keep it all in perspective. I guess the terrain is something one needs also to keep in mind when setting goals and preparing for it.”
She added that she learnt something new every year at worlds and looked back at notes she made after each one, seeing what she identified as weaknesses or neglected areas and where she would have done better.
“We’ve been working on some of those aspects this year. I’ve also used some races here in Germany and Austria as tests for myself just to see what I need to focus on. It has definitely been good to have these events as ‘test runs’.
“Being an athlete is a constant learning process.”
De Groot said she treated worlds as a race just like any other.
“For sure a win or podium at worlds has a huge impact on an athlete’s career. I never really look at it that way, though. I focus on the task at hand and give it my best shot on the day.
“What comes with a good result at worlds isn’t what really drives me. It’s more [about trying] to beat my best, but rainbows have to be part of the dream otherwise it’s pointless to stand on the start line.”