South African national road champion Ashleigh Moolman Pasio out-sprinted Australian Lucy Kennedy to the line to secure the Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa title at Lekunberri, northern Spain, on Tuesday.
Moolman Pasio, who placed fourth overall in the recent Giro Rosa, broke free of a big leading group along with Kennedy on the final San Miguel de Aralar climb.
She then rode away solo before Kennedy caught up with her on the descent.
Over the last few dozen metres of the 108km course the South African jumped early and managed to cross the line first, with Kennedy two seconds behind.
“It was really great to win, especially in Europe,” Moolman Pasio told In the Bunch.
“It hasn’t been the easiest year with a whole lot of bad luck, crashes and illness, so it felt good to finally put my hands up in the air and show off my beautiful national flag.”
The 33-year-old said due to it being a new race on the calendar it was good to experience something different in an area they had raced in before at the Emakumeen Euskal Bira in the Basque region.
“I’ve done the San Miguel climb before but we did the easier, more gradual, side of it. This time we did the really steep climb.
“It was great that the event put up a challenging course and came in with a bang.”
Moolman Pasio, who placed fifth in the La Course by Le Tour de France, added that it was great to line up with her CCC-Liv team and that everyone gave of their best.
“I’m very proud of the team effort and then to be able to finish it off with a victory was really awesome.
“Winning is not always that easy, so when you get the chance to do it it’s really important to savour it and enjoy the moment.”
She said it had always been a pleasure to inspire people to find their passion and pursue it.
“Even though the journey is never easy or smooth you need to keep finding a way to fight through the challenges to eventually reach your full potential.”
Moolman Pasio placed sixth in the 121km Clasica Femenina Navarra in Lodosa today.