De Groot is back … with Sanders

Six-time South African marathon champion Robyn de Groot will return to competitive mountain biking when she teams up with defending champion Sam Sanders at the 2019 KAP sani2c on Thursday.

De Groot is one of the country’s most decorated mountain bikers who was always a threat in marathon events. She had to have surgery late last year after it was discovered that blood flow issues were the cause of burning sensations and a loss of power in her left leg.

The sani2c will be De Groot’s first competitive race since the surgery, and is far ahead of her scheduled return to racing, but the talented multiple South African champion said she simply couldn’t refuse the offer.

“When Sam asked me I laughed at first,” De Groot said with a smile. “I had only planned on racing again in August but I thought that sani2c was a great way to get back into it and dormakaba have been great in supporting us.

“My recovery has gone smoothly as well and I have been training for the last six weeks, so I felt I couldn’t say no.”

Being forced to sit on the side lines for such an extended period of time, many people might suffer mentally but De Groot has dealt with the ordeal well.

“Mentally I knew that there was nothing I could do and I prepared well for the time away from riding, but I miss racing!

“To pack a bag and a bike and get ready for a race has been quite a surreal feeling this week, I’m really excited.

“I don’t feel like I will be out of my depth this week,” she added positively.

Sam Sanders and team-mate Amy McDougall won fairly easily in 2018, but both are returning to competitive action after lay-offs and they will take a conservative approach to the three days of racing.

Defending champion Sam Sanders will team up with multiple South African Marathon Champion Robyn de Groot in the dormakaba colours for the 2019 KAP sani2c. Photo: Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media

“We are both quite relaxed going into the race. I was sick for joberg2c and Robyn is returning from injury, so I am just happy to be riding again and to be on a team with Robyn,” Sanders said.

“She is such a fierce competitor on the bike so we are just going to take it as it comes and give it our best out there every day.

“I think that we will match up well and we are both experienced, so I think that we will look after each other nicely and ride consistently.”

The duo will be racing under the dormakaba name and should face their strongest challenge from the Galileo Risk team of Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph, while the Bell Equipment duo of Hayley Smith and Andrea de Boer will also be pushing for a podium.

“Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph will be good competition because they know each other well and have raced together on a number of occasions.

“Generally they are quite consistent which means that they will be a good challenge over the three days which is exciting,” Sanders added.

After a six month lay-off due to surgery, six-time South African Marathon Champion Robyn de Groot will join defending champion Sam Sanders for the 2019 KAP sani2c from 16 to 18 May. Photo: Anthony Grote / Gameplan Media