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Samantha Sanders (Valencia) sets a hard pace for the elite women during stage 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Dullstroom. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za

Despite the absence of the top two ranked riders in the prestigious series, Robyn de Groot and Amy Beth McDougall, who were both ill, it wasn’t plain sailing for Lill, who had to overcome a two-day duel with Samantha Sanders (Valencia) to secure the overall title.

On Saturday’s 70.5km opening stage, Lill secured the victory with a strong performance, finishing 15th overall and three-and-a-half minutes ahead of runner-up Sanders. Yolandi du Toit (Garmin Merida) was third.

On Sunday’s shorter, more technical 64.2km stage, Sanders showed her victory ambitions from the start, setting the early pace with only Lill able to stay with her. The pair eventually reached the final few hundred metres together with Sanders edging clear of Lill just before the line to secure the stage win and second overall.

Du Toit was third again and confirmed her third place overall with Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) and Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk) claiming fourth and fifth overall respectively.

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Candice Lill (dormokaba) and Samantha Sanders (Valencia) battle it out on day 2 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Dullstroom. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za

“It was a good two days of racing. Today I suffered quite a lot. I think it might be the altitude and also probably the effort from yesterday. But yes, we had such a fun race out there. It was exciting the whole way and I love that,” said Lill.

“I think the two-day format it good. The first day is longer and more of an endurance challenge and the second day is shorter, faster and more intense. It’s proper racing. I like this format. It’s great that the racing is exciting without Robyn, Amy and Vera. So it’s going to be even more exciting when they return,” added Lill.

“Today was basically my stage to win or lose. I went out hard and Candice and I got away. She made me work, but I wanted to win the stage and I knew all she had to do was stay with me because we had a biggish time gap between us yesterday. So I’m happy with the way I rode today. I left it all out there,” said Sanders after Sunday’s stage.

“Day 1 was a grind for me, so I didn’t really appreciate the scenery much. But today was great fun. The course suited me a lot better so I actually had a lot of fun out there. The guys at Advendurance have really put on another super event. It’s always a pleasure to participate in their events,” added Sanders.

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Women’s podium (from the left to right) Joseph Pieterse (Ashburton Investments representative) Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) Samantha Sanders (Valencia) Candice Lill (dormakaba) Yolandi du Toit (Garmin Merida) and Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk)
Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za

The seventh and final round of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 14 and 15 October. The venue is Kaapsehoop, near Nelspruit, Mpumalanga. For more information or to enter, visit www.nationalmtbseries.com

For full marathon and half-marathon results, visit www.saseeding.org