The Elite women line up on start for the first stage of the new two-day format of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series in Sabie. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

It was the inaugural two-day format race in the prestigious seven-round series and it delivered the exciting racing it was designed to, as De Groot held off McDougall in a sprint to win the 64.5km first stage in wet, muddy conditions.

Much drier conditions greeted the competitors on Sunday and De Groot and McDougall were once again locked in battle on the shorter 44km leg, held predominantly on the York Timbers trails. De Groot managed to move away near the end though to secure the stage win and the overall title.

McDougall finished in second place, 36 seconds later and sealed her second place overall, while Vanessa Bell (Bells Cycling), third on both stages, grabbed the final overall podium place.

Amy Beth McDougall (Valencia) a second ahead of Robyn de Groot as they battle it out in the various sections in the first stage of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Sabie. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

“Going into today I was nervous. I’d never ridden any of these routes used on Day 2. I know Amy knows the trails really well. But out there it was cat and mouse. We both have different strengths so we were yo-yoing past one another at different sections. I’m glad to have been able to take the win overall,” said De Groot.

“I think from a professionalism point of view, it would be good to have all the pro ladies competing at these races, especially since Ashburton Investments increased the women’s prize money to be equal to the men’s,” added De Groot, when asked about the lack of depth in the women’s field.

“I absolutely love these trails. I know them very well from having competed in the York Timbers Enduro; and from living here for a year. I had a bit of bad luck today with my wheel, but it was a great battle with Robyn, who was the stronger rider today,” said McDougall.

Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) content as she crosses the finish line in a sprint finish against Amy Beth McDougall. Photo Credit: ZC Marketing Consulting

The Ashburton Investments National MTB Series now moves to South Africa’s Free State province for Round 3, on 8-9 April. For more information or to enter, visit