While Daryl Impey has been making Tour de France history, South African women’s road race champion, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio has been continuing her rise up the International Cycling Union (UCI) rankings with an eighth place overall at the Giro Donne, the most prestigious women’s road stage race in the world.
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, an eight-day race that’s currently the women’s equivalent of the Tour de France in terms of prestige, confirms she’s still on the way up.
At the 2010 edition of the Giro Donne, she finished 17th, 42 minutes behind the overall winner; in 2011 she was 13th, 20 minutes off the winner’s time. Last year she broke into the top 10 with 10th position and was 10 minutes behind the winner and this year she was eighth and just over five minutes back.
“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 3 was a great result; but that was the only stage where I really can say I was at my potential.”
Moolman Pasio said that her positioning wasn’t ideal at crucial points of the key climbing legs –Stages 5 and 6 – and put it down to her own inexperience and that of her young Lotto Belisol 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 Toyota team when in South Africa during the European winter, is focussing 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. It’s the main measure of success in women’s racing currently. We can’t afford to spend a whole season focussed 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.
“The race has gone back to it’s 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 that kind of climbing specifically,” added Moolman Pasio.
“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 remained in Italy after Sunday’s final Giro Donne stage to recce the course for the 2013 World Championships.
“The World Champs is my next major goal for this year. 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,” she said.