Amy Beth McDougall made a big career breakthrough when she won her first National Marathon Series event at Round 4 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series at Champagne Sports Resort in the Central Drakensberg at the weekend.
The 27-year-old Valencia rider scored a convincing victory in the two-stage race. The result was a significant breakthrough for McDougall, who has finished on the podium a number of times previously, but never on the top step.
On Stage 1, a 67km leg with 1700 metres of climbing, McDougall took the early lead and then extended it to win the women’s division and place 13th overall. McDougall’s time of 3:18:00 was just over nine minutes faster than runner-up, South African champion, Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health). Sarah Hill (Liv) was third a further 20 minutes back.
An off-form De Groot, still recovering from recent illness decided to withdraw from Sunday’s second stage, leaving McDougall to defend a large lead over Hill on the 50km stage with 1330m of elevation. McDougall charged around the challenging course in a time of 2:15:50 to finish a respectable 18th overall on the stage. Hill secured second place in 2:29:19 with Hayley Smith (Bell) completing the podium in 2:33:05.
In the combined times, McDougall, who placed 15th overall, was 45 minutes faster than Hill, with Smith claiming third.
“Unfortunately, I haven’t been 100% well since Sani2c last month. I was due to fly to Germany on Sunday night for the upcoming marathon world champs later this month and decided I needed to address my health situation rather than compete in Stage 2. It was a tough call, but the right one I feel. Amy rode very well and deserved the win,” said De Groot from Germany on Monday.
“I always go out as hard as I can. I like to push my limits whether I’m under pressure or not and that’s what I did today. I really enjoyed it out there and made the most of this incredible part of the world,” said McDougall after Stage 2.
“I’m super stoked! It’s been a goal of mine for five years now to win a national marathon series race. And finally, I have. Unfortunately Robyn wasn’t here today as she’s not feeling well. From that point of view, I would have liked the battle, but I’m still super stoked,” beamed McDougall.
“This the best I’ve done all year. It’s such a cool feeling to improve my positions each year. I loved the downhills here, but this was the hardest race of the year so far for me,” said Hill.
Round 5 of the Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017 will take place on 29 July at Van Gaalen in the North West Province. The venue is less than an hour’s drive from both Johannesburg and Pretoria and is expected to draw a large field.
Ashburton Investments National MTB Series 2017
Round 4, Champagne Sports Resort
Women Stage 1:
- Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 3:18:00
- Robyn de Groot (RSA) Ascendis Health 3:27:47
- Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv 3:48:18
- Nadia Visser (RSA) 3:52:15
- Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell 3:52:50
- Adrienne Moolman (RSA) 4:03:22
- Andrea de Boer (RSA) 4:03:25
- Julia Kotze (RSA) 4:16:06
- Janice Venter (RSA) 4:19:25
- Sandra Haywood (RSA) 4:28:07
Women Stage 2:
- Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 2:15:50
- Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv 2:29:19
- Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell 2:33:05
- Nadia Visser (RSA) 2:40:06
- Adrienne Moolman (RSA) 2:46:43
- Sandra Haywood (RSA) 2:47:05
- Andrea de Boer (RSA) 2:49:20
- Julia Kotze (RSA) 2:50:54
- Janice Venter (RSA) 2:53:04
- Su Don-Wauchope (RSA) 2:59:20
Women combined final positions:
- Amy Beth McDougall (RSA) Valencia 5:33:50
- Sarah Hill (RSA) Liv 6:17:37
- Hayley Smith (RSA) Bell 6:25:55
- Nadia Visser (RSA) 6:32:21
- Adrienne Moolman (RSA) 6:50:05
- Andrea de Boer (RSA) 6:52:45
- Julia Kotze (RSA) 7:07:00
- Janice Venter (RSA) 7:12:29
- Sandra Haywood (RSA) 7:15:12
- Su Don-Wauchope (RSA) 7:38:11
Females combined – final positions
- Danielle Strydom (RSA) 3:40:38
- Frances Janse van Rensburg (RSA) 3:53:16
- Tanya Kotze (RSA) 3:58:33