The Elite Women’s Road Race on Friday bought down the curtain on the female events at the 2015 Confederation of African Cycling Road Championships and it was Time Trial champion and South African cycling star Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio who won the gold in a tightly contested Road Race with Lise Olivier and Hadnet Kidane claiming second and third respectively. It was a full house of gold medals for the impressive Moolman Pasio who heaped a lot of praise on the rest of the South African team after the race as well as to the organisers and the back room staff that helped in tough conditions. “The team work from the girls today was really great!” We had to work hard for a long time because we could not drop the Ethiopian rider (Kidane) which is a credit to her and how well she rode! It got to about 39 degrees before we started this morning but we were never uncomfortable as we always had enough water and were well looked after throughout the race which we were grateful for,” the Bigla Pro Cycling Team rider added.
The race went according to plan for the South African team which led to the one, two finish. Moolman-Pasio still feels that representing South Africa is the ultimate honour and she needs no other motivation when she rides for her country. “Riding for South Africa is something that I will always cherish no matter what the competition or event and winning a race for my country is even greater and with such a great team it makes it more special. It is great to see the other riders from Africa improving and getting smarter and stronger which means that the competition is getting harder for all of us which is great for women’s cycling in Africa,” Moolman Pasio explained. It has been a memorable early season for Moolman-Pasio who now adds the continental titles to the national titles that she won recently but she admits that the second part of the season is her main focus with some major events coming up.
“If I am 100% honest I am not looking to peak early in the season with my main focus being the back end of the season in Europe as the main goal because our points start counting towards Olympic qualification. I had a really good training block recently and coming home and defending my titles was the main aim and I am really happy with the way the past few months have gone,” a satisfied Moolman-Pasio concluded. The silver medal went to fellow South African Lise Olivier who echoed Moolman-Pasio when she spoke about the effort put in by the South African team.
“It was a great effort from the girls today in some tough conditions out there! I am really happy with the result especially considering we had to fight off the Ethiopian rider about four or five times which was tough,” she explained. An element of the race that touched Olivier’s heart was the increase in the numbers on the start line. The increase in numbers at the event is something that she is really encouraged by and hopes that cycling among African women can grow from strength to strength.
“I was on the start line in Rwanda for the African Champs a few years ago and there were only seven women there so to see 30 women riding today was really special and it just shows the increased interest by women around Africa. “I am hugely passionate about women’s cycling so we must give JP Van Zyl of the UCI World Cycling Centre Africa a lot of credit for increasing the interest throughout Africa and let’s just hope that the interest keeps on growing!” an excited Olivier added. The Saturday schedule at the African Continental Road Championships will commence with the Elite Men’s Road Races starting at 08:30.