24 April 2013
South African road cycling and time trial champion Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio continued her ascent in the cycling world when she finished on the podium in the prestigious La Fleche Wallonne Feminine one-day UCI World Cup race in Belgium last week.
Moolman-Pasio, who races for the Belgian-based Lotto Belisol team and is currently based in Europe, said was quietly confident heading into the race, having finished fifth in the event last year. She was elated to finish third this time around.
“I don’t like to be too vocal before races, I rather let my legs do the talking,” she said afterwards. “But deep down inside I had a good feeling. Carl (Pasio, her husband) and I have been training hard together, and leading into the race my power numbers looked very good.
“I also have a great team around me this year. We are a nice group of girls. Going into the race I knew that Carl, my family, my team and my country believed in me, and that’s what made all the difference on the race day.”
Moolman-Pasio felt the final climb, on the Mur de Huy, the finishing line of the Fleche Wallonne since 1983 and of the La Fleche Wallonne Feminine since 1998, was ideally suited to her. In the women’s race, it has to be climbed twice.
There were other new challenges on the route, not seen before. “The race wasn’t just different for me this year,” Moolman-Pasio wrote on her blog, “it was a new route that included more climbing, an extra 20km, and the first climb up the Mur de Huy came half way through the race, much sooner than before.
‘My favourite climb’
“However, what hadn’t changed at all was the hard, steep climb to the finish line, at the top of my favourite climb, the Mur de Huy.”
Staying out of trouble, Moolman-Pasio made it to the final climb in good position to challenge for a podium place. Nearing the end, she was in elite company, with London Olympic road race gold medallist Marianne Vos, Swedish star Emma Johansson, sixth in the London and a silver medal winner in the Beijing Olympics, and Elisa Longo Borghini, the bronze medallist in the road race at the 2012 World Championships.
Detailing the finish, the South African star wrote: “Nervous of going too hard and blowing completely, I held back a bit on the last steep part and suddenly I found myself on the back foot.
“Vos attacked with Borghini not far behind her, as the road levelled out. I had to use everything to come back and, as Vos took the win, I drove it to a photo finish with Borghini for second.
“As my teammates finished, it was still undecided whether I was second or third, but the whole team was so excited to be on the podium, it didn’t even matter.”
Interviewed shortly after finishing on the podium by Sean Badenhorst, Moolman- Pasio said: “As the first South African woman to podium at a World Cup, I dedicate this achievement to all the young aspiring cyclists, particularly the young women at home in South Africa, to remind them to keep believing in themselves and in their dreams! With hard work, commitment, passion and a little bit of faith, anything is possible!”
Stage race success
A qualified chemical engineer, she has also shown her pedigree in stage races; last year she finished in the top 10 of the Giro d’Italia Internazionale Femminile, the toughest stage race in women’s road cycling.
Moolman-Pasio will be racing in the three-day tour in Luxembourg this coming weekend, the Festival Luxembourgeois du Cyclisme Feminin Elsy Jacobs.
The tour is part of her preparation for the bigger tours that she will be contesting later in the year, the biggest of which are the Tour of Spain (Emakumeen Bira Tour) in June, the Giro d’Italia Femminile (Giro Rosa) in July and the Route de France in August.
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material