9 July 2013
While Daryl Impey has been making Tour de France history, South African road race champion Ashleigh Moolman Pasio has continued her rise up the International Cycling Union (UCI) women’s rankings with an eighth place overall at the Giro Donne.
The eight-day Italian event is the most prestigious women’s road stage race in the world and the women’s equivalent of the Tour de France.
Moolman Pasio has been South Africa’s top achiever in women’s road racing over the past four years and her eighth place in the general classification at the 2013 Giro Donne, which concluded on Sunday, confirms she’s still on the way up.
At the 2010 edition of the race, she finished 17th, 42 minutes behind the overall winner; in 2011 she was 13th overall, 20 minutes off the winner’s time. Last year, she broke into the top 10 with 10th position and was 10 minutes off the pace. This year she was eighth and just over five minutes behind the winner.
“If you look at my progression like that, it’s encouraging. But I don’t feel I achieved my potential this year,” said Moolman Pasio from Florence, Italy on Monday. “My goal this year was a stage win and my third place on stage three was a great result; but that was the only stage where I really can say I was at my potential.”
Moolman Pasio said her positioning wasn’t ideal at crucial points of the key climbing legs – stages five and six – and put it down to her own inexperience and that of her young Lotto Belisol team.
‘A great team’
“It’s a great team with lots of talent, but we just lack stage racing experience and that counted against us at this race. The good thing is that I learned a lot and know where my weaknesses are.
“I do intend to return to try give the overall win at this race a big go at some point in my career.”
Moolman Pasio, who races for the Momentum Toyota team when in South Africa during the European winter, is focusing on scoring as many world rankings points as possible this year. On 24 June, prior to the Giro Donne, she was ranked 14th, the highest ranking ever achieved by a South African road racer, male or female.
“World ranking is important to me this year,” she explained. “It’s the main measure of success in women’s racing currently.
“We can’t afford to spend a whole season focused only on one race like the men can. The financial rewards are nowhere near what the men earn and the UCI points are differently weighted.
“A win at the Giro Donne gives you 80 points, but a World Cup race win is 100 points and the World Championships win is 200 points.
“Mara Abbot, the American that won the Giro Donne this year and in 2010, is based in the USA for most of the season and puts all her focus into this one race. She’s obviously at a point in her career where that’s possible.”
Explaining the biggest challenge the Giro Donne presents, Moolman Pasio added: “The race has gone back to its original format and has some really long climbs – this year there was a 20km climb – and most of the one-day races that carry the big UCI points don’t have any ascents like that, so for most of the riders, it’s not a priority to train for that kind of climbing specifically.
“If I am to be in a position to challenge for this race win in future, I need to focus the majority of my time training very long mountain climbs at high altitude. That’s where this race is won.”
Moolman Pasio has remained in Italy after Sunday’s final Giro Donne stage to reconnoitre the course for the 2013 World Championships.
“The World Champs is my next major goal for this year,” she said. “The course is tough and definitely suits my strengths.
“My best results before have been on courses that have successive climbs and the finishing circuit, which we will do five times, has just such a profile.”