The 33-year-old, who last won the elite women’s title in 2015, suffered a traumatic experience at the time-trial two days prior to the 136km race when she had a bad allergic reaction to a caffeine shot and then crashed at the finish.
“I was really lucky to have been able to make such a fast turnaround and to have actually been able to start. There was a time I considered whether I could actually compete as when I woke up on Saturday morning I had pain and a bruised left hip.
“But I came here with a goal and that was to leave with the jersey and I missed the opportunity at the time-trial due to a stupid rookie error. I was very determined to make up for that and end on a positive note before returning to Europe.
“I’m really happy to win nationals as it has been a couple of years since I won; 2016 was a challenging year as I was sick, then I had my big hip injury, which meant I wasn’t in great form for the 2017 race.
“Last year I didn’t take part at all because it just didn’t suit my early season plans.
“It has also been a while since I raced here [in South Africa] as the 947 Cycle Challenge was not a UCI event anymore, so the whole of 2018 I didn’t race here at all.”
With her absence from the local scene, she said she didn’t know what to expect in the road race.
“But of course I was incredibly happy to win and to win in that way as well – solo is always very special,” said Moolman Pasio, who is looking forward to wearing the national champion’s jersey on the international stage.
She said she knew she had to watch Demacon Max Wax and Cycle Nation closely.
“Going into the race my strategy was to put the responsibility on these two. I was there as a favourite and coming from overseas everyone is often looking to me to make the racing, but I was an individual and came from a bit of a setback so I wasn’t necessarily feeling my absolute best.
“Juanita [Venter] did an incredible job with her solo breakaway. For her it was not ideal to be totally on her own though and I was a bit surprised that Demacon didn’t do more to chase as it was their title to defend. I had nothing to lose and could only gain from the race.
“In the end everything played out perfectly and I couldn’t have asked for a better result or scenario.”
Moolman Pasio said she was impressed by Cycle Nation and felt they did an amazing job of animating the race.
“It was nice to see and I have a lot of respect for them. They came in with a plan, a strategy, and were hungry for a result and wanted to make an impression.
“It was also encouraging to see younger riders coming in and impressing.
“Tiffany Keep was so ambitious, gutsy and determined and didn’t sit around and wait for things to happen. It’s encouraging to see as that’s what SA cycling needs at this point.”
After the national champs, Moolman Pasio flew to Europe to join her CCC-Liv team on a pre-classic season training camp.
“We’re getting our training up to the next level and doing fine-tuning before the start of the season with our big focus on the spring classics.
“My biggest goal is the Ardennes classics week in April. There are also some great races before then such as the Strade Bianche, Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem that I’ll use in preparation for the Ardennes. My focus will then change to the tours.”