In an epic display of guts and determination, South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (28) claimed a Commonwealth Games bronze medal by mere millimetres in the women’s road race in Glasgow, Scotland, on Sunday. The 98km route was broken down into seven laps of the 14km loop on an extremely tight and technical circuit in Glasgow. Moolman-Pasio’s experience in professional cycling prepared her to chase a decisive break in the fourth lap, which consisted of pro riders Emma Pooley, Lizzie Armitstead, Gracie Elvin, Tiffany Cromwell, Katie Archibald and Commonwealth Games Time Trial gold medallist Linda Villumsen.
This was to be the break of the day, containing the three medallists. Armitstead made her intentions clear when she caught and passed Pooley, who had made a break for the finish. In winning a gold medal, Pooley claimed silver and the tussle for the bronze medal began between Villumsen, Cromwell and Moolman-Pasio in the pouring rain. Moolman-Pasio led the way, with Cromwell pulling out of her slipstream to chase for the finish line.
But Moolman-Pasio dug deep and lunged for the line securing the bronze medal by mere millimetres, which was decided in a photo finish. “I’m absolutely ecstatic with my bronze medal. The support from South Africa and my teammates has been phenomenal. We had such an incredible vibe amongst the team. Everyone was committed to one goal. I was concerned at the finish, and I really did not think that I had finished third, and I felt a bit down, and when I saw the photo-finish photo, I just couldn’t believe it! When we crossed the finish line, I just lunged and threw my bike and that’s what made all the difference. Carl (Ashleigh’s husband) taught me how to lunge for the line, and that’s all that I did in the final sprint. I really hope this is a turning point for women’s cycling in South Africa,” said an elated Moolman-Pasio after the race.
The only other South African rider to cross the finish line was An-Li Kachelhoffer, who finished in 23rd place, 12:17 off the pace. Heidi Dalton, Anriette Schoeman, Lise Olivier and Cherise Stander did not finish the race. Further to her bronze medal excitement, Moolman-Pasio will be the flag-bearer for Team South Africa in the closing ceremony later this evening.
Photo credit: Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA