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Strydom, De Groot claim maiden HCT mountain bike titles

Riders conquer hot and dusty conditions in Addo area

Podium finishers in the women’s 80km race of The Herald Cycle Tour MTB race at the Addo Polo Club on Sunday are, winner Robyn de Groot, Kelsey van Schoor, left, second, and Sabine Spitz, third
CELEBRATION TIME: Podium finishers in the women’s 80km race of The Herald Cycle Tour MTB race at the Addo Polo Club on Sunday  are, winner Robyn de Groot,  Kelsey van Schoor, left, second,  and Sabine Spitz, third
Image: EUGENE COETZEE

Gqeberha mountain bike rider Sidney Strydom overcame a severe bout of cramps to be crowned champion of The Herald Cycle Tour mountain bike race in searing heat at the Addo Polo Club on Sunday.

Strydom did not let the heat spoil his plans as he crossed the finish line in a time of three hours and 29 minutes, a minute and 39 seconds ahead of Venter van der Mescht in second (3:30:40) while Patrick Brown claimed the final podium spot in 3:35:26.

In the women’s race, veteran SA cyclist Robyn de Groot showed why she was one of the most decorated cyclists, as she claimed a maiden win at the 80km event with a time of 3:40:03, ahead of Kelsey van Schoor (3:44:46) in second with Sabine Spitz taking the bronze medal in 3:50:12.

Strydom said it had been an incident-filled race as he had suffered cramps, a crash and a broken shoe along the 80km course.

“Everything that could happen, did happen, except for punctures.

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“I was dropped on the pass, which already felt like a loss but then on the single track I got my breath back and caught the guys one by one; I managed to open up a gap.

“I had a crash on one of the corners and broke my shoe.

“Then the cramps came. I have never cramped that much in my life but I am happy to have pulled this one off.

“It has been a bucket list race for me for a long time,” Strydom said.

Originally from Gqeberha, Strydom, who claimed a maiden win after finishing ninth in the 2022 edition, said the win was a big step up for him; he hoped it would signal the start of many more to come.

Meanwhile, De Groot, who was racing in her first HCT Mountain Bike event was pleased with her overall performance.

“I enjoyed the route which was a nice mix of everything, coming from the Garden Route where things are wet and tacky, this is dusty and rough, but it is always nice to have a change in scenery.

“[I] thoroughly enjoyed the Zuurberg Pass climbs, the Hayterdale Trails are a treat and the descent off Zuurberg was something special.”

Commenting on the MTB culture in the Eastern Cape, De Groot said she had enjoyed the few races she had done in the Eastern Cape in the past.

“That’s the beauty of MTB, you can even come here next weekend and the conditions might be different, which will make racing feel so different.

“I have done a few races here in the Eastern Cape but never The Herald, so I’m happy to finally tick that one off.”

Having retired from professional sport, the George-based cyclist said she used these events to test race pacing strategies which she then implements with the clients she coaches, but said there was a strong possibility that she would return in 2025 for another crack.

Leading results:

80km Extreme

Men: Sidney Strydom 3:29:01, Venter van der Mescht 3:30:40 and Patrick Brown 3:35:26

Women: Robyn de Groot 3:40:03, Kelsey van Schoor 3:44:46 and Sabine Spitz 3:50:12

60km Adventure

Men: Ruan Cloete 2:14:06, Josua Wagner 2:14:07 and Lundi Kakana 2:14:12 

Women: Anriette Schoeman 2:42:34, Tracey Campbell 2:43:24 and Madeleen van Zuydam 2:45:54

30km Leasure

Men: Leon de Kock 1:06:07, Liam Garrett 1:06:09 and Craig Townsend 1:07:08

Women: Mariette Hattingh 1:11:20, Leona Smit 1:20:25 and Retha van der Berg 1:20:35

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