South African cyclist Ashleigh Moolman secured a silver medal at the weekend’s Tour de L’ardeche in south-central France, crossing the finish line only thirteen seconds behind Russian winner Tatiana Antoshina. Moolman is no stranger to podium finishes. One of her favourites came earlier this year at the 2013 Fleche Wallonne World Cup in Belgium. This was her first World Cup podium, making her the first African rider to podium at a World Cup event in the history of the sport. “Standing on the podium was a heartwarming moment for me as a proud South African and African ambassador”, says Moolman.
The recent result in France is made even more phenomenal considering that Ashleigh was involved in a crash during the Route de France Women’s Cycle Race just four weeks ago where she broke the fifth metacarpal bone in her left hand. This forced her to abandon the tour. Fortunately the fracture was a stable one and no operation was necessary. It was challenging for Ashleigh to stay positive after this set back at a crucial time in the season. But she says, “I’m still completely blown away by how quickly my hand healed. I did my best to maintain a positive attitude and after one week of complete immobilisation, the doctor gave me the go ahead to start using my hand again, as long as it was not too painful”. The rapid healing of Ashleigh’s hand meant that the injury wouldn’t interfere too much with her training.
Ashleigh is hoping to qualify for both the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 and the Rio Olympic Games 2016 where she will be one of the top medal hopefuls for South Africa and will be gunning for gold. Ashleigh was recently voted Africa’s Most Influential Woman in Sport by MIW Magazine, “I am a passionate promoter of women’s cycling in a totally testosterone-driven sport and my vision is to act as an agent of positive change not only in the sport, but also in society. This award is a real honour. It shows that my efforts to positively influence the greater public by sharing my experiences and life lessons have not been in vain”. Ashleigh added, “At the end of the day, it is the positive influence I can have on others that motivates me to race and train to the best of my ability.”
Women’s cycling in South Africa is going through a transitional phase. It always seems to take a bit of a knock in the year post Olympics, but Moolman remains positive that the future is bright for South Africa. Moolman’s local team, Momentum Toyota and another local team ASG Bestmed are doing great work to develop young, talented female cyclists in the country. Some great work is being done on the track and in mountain-biking to develop young talent and there are a great number of young girls who are showing a lot of potential. This bodes well for the future of female sports in South Africa
Ashleigh will race in the UCI World Championships road race in Florence, Italy from 22-29 September 2013. With the year she’s had so far, we expect this championship to yield exceptional results.
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