The coronavirus pandemic has turned life upside down for South Africa’s Robyn de Groot, one of the world’s top marathon mountain bikers.
The 37-year-old said she was really hoping to push the envelope this season after a successful return to pro cycling in 2019, which included a podium at the UCI MTB Marathon World Championships in Switzerland.
She was forced to undergo vascular surgery in the Netherlands earlier in the year after being diagnosed with severe blood-flow problems in her left leg following the world championships in late 2018.
“What can we say? I guess it feels like the carpet got pulled from beneath our feet, right?
“That said, I’m just waiting until the time is right and we have enough info and stability to be able to plan for the way forward,” said the multiple national marathon champion, who joined dormakaba in the middle of last year when her previous team folded.
She opened her 2020 campaign with a hard-fought second place at the gruelling Attakwas, where she lost out in the sprint to Sweden’s Jennie Stenerhag after recovering from a minor mechanical early on.
Her programme had been set until the Cape Epic, which never happened.
“I always plan in quarters for the very reason that sometimes planning too far in advance is just too uncertain.
“The Epic was cancelled a few days prior to the start and, basically, from there we had to deal with the disappointment.
“The loss was huge, but as time moved beyond the cancellations and disappointments and, as the health crisis unfolded, I came to realise that it goes far beyond races and the bigger picture stretches beyond my feelings.
“For the time being there is still too much uncertainty and instability that it is hard to know how it will all unfold,” said the George professional, who admitted that she had basically written the year off.
“Should things return to normality sooner and within 2020, I would be super happy and ever so grateful to get back to racing.”
If that transpired, she would assess the new calendar as well as her financial position before committing to a new racing schedule, which would include the major cross-country marathon and stage races.
“It’s been a tough time for everyone, so to support one another and the industry will be fantastic.”
De Groot believed the lockdown had “extremely harsh consequences” on everyone including the cycling industry.
“From an economic perspective, I highly doubt that many people will have spare cash. I can imagine wallets will be tighter.
“Hopefully, we can all still enjoy the trails, events and being out in nature together.
“On a positive note, in the mornings I’ve seen people out mountain biking in the time allocation we have been given.
“Based on that, I think being locked inside our homes has created interest and desire to get outside and exercise again, so hopefully more people will stay in these routines moving forward.”