By Mark Etheridge
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio’s fine year continued in Bloemfontein on Sunday with victory in the annual MTN OFM Classic road race.
She’s had a great year on the road, being our top finisher at the UCI road world championships in Copenhagen, Denmark in September, as well as winning the Amashova Classic in KwaZulu-Natal last month.
And let there be no forgetting her consistent form while racing the tough European circuit earlier this year.
What made Sunday’s victory especially pleasing for Moolman-Pasio was that it came in the city she grew up in and where she went to school (Eunice High). “It was in Bloemfontein that I learnt how to work hard for what I what to achieve and to have faith in what I believe in,” she said.
Sunday’s women’s event was 99 kilometres (the men raced 111km) and Moolman-Pasio’s Nashua Toyota team made the racing tough from the get-go. “My teammate Lynette Burger initiated an early four-man break. Midway into the race I bridged across the breakaway and that forced Team MTN and Cherise Taylor (USN) to chase. Our break was caught as we neared the city again and soon after that team-mate Jo van der Winkel attacked as we approached the three significant ‘climbs’ of the day.”
Van Winkel stayed out front on her own until there were just 5km left to go. “When she was caught my team-mates started attacking aggressively again. With 300m to go Robyn de Groot’s attack was brought back and that’s when I launched my sprint. No-one was able to pass me and I was delighted to take the win for the team. It was a fantastic display of teamwork from my team. Any one of us could have won on the day and I’m very privileged to part of such a classy and pro team.”
Like men’s OFM Classic winner Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Moolman-Pasio had little time to celebrate victory as she’s also off on national duty, this time the Continental Road Championships in Asmara, Eritrea.
The women’s individual time trial will be raced on Friday and the road race on Sunday.
“The points up for grabs are incredibly important for Olympic qualification and we’ll do our best to make South Africa proud and our goal is to bring gold, silver and bronze back,” says Moolman-Pasio. “I’ve never travelled this far north in Africa and I’m sure it will be a very interesting experience!”