Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio Excels African Champs

The riders at the Confederation of African Cycling Road Championships were given some respite from the weather on Wednesday for the Individual Time Trials of the Elite Men and Women and it was South African star Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio who added a continental champs title to her impressive list of achievements in recent times with Ethiopian Tsgabu Grmay claiming the Elite Men’s title.  The men’s Individual Time Trial was just as exciting and with a strong South African contingent the odds would have been in their favour but it was Ethiopian rider Tsgabu Grmay who was the fastest over the two laps to claim the continental crown.

Moolman-Pasio went into the Individual Time Trial with the Team Time Trial winners medal already in her hands and added the individual gold to that when she cruised to victory over fellow South African Heidi Dalton and Aurelie Halbwachs who finished second and third respectively.  The Bigla Pro Team rider was happy that she could add another continental gold medal to her impressive record of late and was glad that there was a little bit of a change from the intense heat that the riders had to ride in over the first two days.  “Today was a bit cooler than Monday.  It was a bit windy and that made the course a bit tougher but it was still a great course and I am glad to get another win for the South African team!  It is awesome that we won the gold and the silver and I am really happy for Heidi because she rode really well.”

Going off last is an advantage in the time trial as the rider has an idea of what time they need to achieve in order to win but it got difficult for Moolman-Pasio as she powered her way through the field which meant she was never too sure of where she was going to end up.  “I was always going to be racing against myself and when I set off and started overtaking quite a few of the riders in front of me I was not too sure about where I was in the field and what my time was going to be like!  I did feel comfortable throughout so I didn’t feel too much pressure which I hope I can take into the Road Race and we can defend our title as the South African team,” she added.  It was a historic day for the Ethiopian team as Tsgabu Grmay became the first rider from the East African Nation to win an elite gold medal at the continental road championships.

“I am so happy to be the first person from Ethiopia to win an elite gold!  It was a great race for me today and everything went perfectly and my preparation coming into the race had been good so I was confident that I could do well,” an elated Grmay proclaimed.  He was not going to be over-awed by the competition that he was going to come up against and with some cooler conditions out on the course Grmay thought that those played into his hands a bit and gave him the edge that he wanted.  “I came into the race knowing that I had a chance of winning it if I rode well and everything went smoothly.  It all went to plan and it is great for the whole team who have come out here as well as the federation who have been working really hard for us riders recently and trying to grow the sport back home and so I am happy to give back with this win,” he said with a smile.

The race for second in the Men’s Individual Time Trial was a tightly fought affair but eventually the silver medal went to Daniel Teklehaimanot from Eritrea and South Africa’s Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg finished in third, claiming the bronze medal.  The Under-23 Men also took to the Time Trial course on Wednesday in pursuit of that individual gold medal and when the racing was done it was Eritrean and Team MTN-Qhubeka star Merhawi Kudus who claimed the spoils as he added this title to the Team Time Trial gold that he won with his national team on the first day of the competition.  The silver and bronze medals in the Under 23 Men’s Individual Time Trial went to Valens Ndayisenga from Rwanda and Adil Barbari from Algeria respectively.

The Thursday schedule at the African Continental Road Championships will commence with the Junior Men’s and Women’s Road Races starting at 09:30.  The African Continental Road Champs will be streamed live on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 February (09:30-12:30) and Saturday 14 February from 09:30 to 14:30 on www.streamit360.tv.