South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is happy with her successes in Europe over the past week.
Cervelo Bigla Pro Cycling’s Moolman-Pasio finished in the top-10 twice in Belgium over the space of four days.
However, despite her top positions Moolman-Pasio said her main objective heading into both races was to support her team.
“Neither of the two were goal races or even a priority for me,” she said. “My main objective was to play a supportive role, because our sprinter Lotta Lepisto actually won both of the races last year.
“Our objective was to defend her titles, but unfortunately she fell ill recently and is taking a little longer to recover and get back into race mode.”
Moolman-Pasio said the first three-quarters of the rain-soaked race was relatively flat and uneventful.
The decisive part of the race, she said, came in the final 30km. “There were five short steep climbs and two cobble sections, so heading onto the second climb I was close to Lotta and trying to bring her to the front.
“I then noticed there was some action happening, so I just had to follow the wheels after some attacks. At the top of the climb, we had a small breakaway of eight riders.”
It was not her goal to be in that breakaway, Moolman-Pasio said. “Lotta is our fastest sprinter, so it would have been better for her to drive forward. I then just went with the flow of the breakaway. I did not do too much.
“Most of the big teams were in the breakaway, so there was not much cooperation to chase. The weather may have also played a role. The slight snag was that Sunweb had two riders in the break, making it difficult.
“In the last 20km they [Sunweb] threw in attack after attack. I did my best to follow where I could, but it was really difficult in that scenario.”
After Sunweb’s Ellen van Dijk made a break with less than a kilometre to go, the chasers played a game of cat and mouse in which Moolman-Pasio was ultimately beaten into sixth position.
“I had hoped for a better result – there was a chance for a podium. I did not necessarily have the legs I wanted in the sprint, especially in such cold and wet conditions.
“It was particularly hard for me as a small light rider, but either way it was a good result and I am happy with my form at the moment.”
Moolman-Pasio and her team are now turning their focus to the Tour of Flanders, which she described as a “big goal”.