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Robyn upbeat about SA

Just back from the recently completed Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, Team SA cyclist Robyn De Groot reckons that its only a matter of time before a South African woman medals at a big international event.

De Groot was talking after finishing runner-up in the Amashova Durban Classic cycle race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban at the weekend.

The MTN-Energade women’s cycling team dominated the event taking first (Cashandra Slingerland), second and third (An-Li Pretorius).

De Groot who was part of the South African women’s team that competed at the UCI World Road Championship in Australia and the Commonwealth Games reckons that women’s cycling in South Africa has really improved.

Given the results in Australia where United States based Carla Swart (MTN-Energade) finished 10th just three seconds behind the winner and at the Commonwealth Games where she was eighth and Cherise Taylor (USN) 10th in the same time as the winner De Groot has a good point.

ÔÇ£It is just a question of time before one of us will win a medal for South Africa at a major race. The fact that we are getting more and more opportunities to compete internationally certainly is doing wonders for our confidence. We are definitely starting to gel as a team and we are also not intimidated when we compete internationally. We now fully realise that we are capable of winning and beating the world’s bestÔÇØ De Groot said.

Back to the KwaZulu-Natal race though and according to De Groot a banner hanging from a bridge in the final kilometre caused some confusion amongst the riders. ÔÇ£Quite a few riders thought it was the finish banner, so they started to sprint prematurely. Marissa van der Merwe won that sprint. Cashandra and I realised it was as mistake.

“Cashandra was the first to capitalise on the confusion by attacking the moment Marissa raced under the banner. By the time the other riders realised their mistake it was too late. She opened a big enough gap. I then won the bunch sprint and An-Li was right on my wheel.ÔÇØ

According to De Groot the Amashova is one of the most difficult races to win. ÔÇ£We attacked throughout the race hoping to get a small group of riders away, but it was to no avail because there are just too many down hills that made it possible for the whole peloton to regroup.ÔÇØ