Road

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio ready to “give it a go” in final Giro Rosa stages

After an injury before Strade Bianche sidelined her for two weeks, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio says she's feeling better every day at the Giro Rosa.

This year’s Giro Rosa marks Ashleigh Moolman Pasio‘s 10th appearance at the Italian stage race, yet the CCC-Liv rider says that coming into the 2020 edition was “really diving into the deep end.”

The South African rider suffered a nasty crash in training for early August’s Strade Bianche; before that, she had only lined up at the Durango-Durango race in Spain. Her team pulled out of the two one-day races preceding it due to concerns about COVID-19 protocol — and we all know how little racing anyone had done before that.

Related:

“As a result of my crash, obviously I took pretty much two weeks off,” Moolman Pasio told VeloNews. “I took the first 10 days completely off the bike and then started easing into things, but it was really easy short rides in the beginning. So it was literally two weeks off the bike and then I had three weeks to try to prepare for the Giro.”

Moolman Pasio says that’s she’s still experiencing some pain due to inflammation of her right sacroiliac joint. However, her performance at the Giro Rosa indicates that her form was already well-tuned before the start. She has top ten finishes in five stages and currently sits in seventh place overall.

With the shakeup to the order caused by the unfortunate crash at the end of Thursday’s stage, which resulted in GC leader Annemiek van Vleuten withdrawing from the race with a fractured wrist, Friday and Saturday’s stages could present new opportunities for Moolman Pasio.

“If Annemiek doesn’t start tomorrow it does mean that the race will be way more open, and I think a lot can still change in the final two stages,” she said. “Tomorrow has a hard finish and the next day has a fair amount of elevation gain. The climb isn’t particularly hard, it’s relatively gradual. It will be interesting to see how these last stages go.”

Moolman Pasio said that the entire course profile of year’s Giro Rosa is quite different than past editions. Often characterized by lung-searing mountain climbs, the 2020 race features more punchy climbing and tough finishes. Team tactics have been impressively executed, and all-rounder’s have been given ample opportunity to shine.

“It’s actually really great preparation for the rest of the season,” she said.

With world champs just one week after the final stage of the Giro Rosa, Moolman Pasio said that she’s grateful to have had the grand tour as preparation. Although she put in some impressive efforts during the lockdown’s virtual racing season, winning the Queen Stages of both the virtual Tour de France and the Zwift Tour for All, Moolman Pasio says that nothing compares to real racing.

“It’s crazy, as much as one trains as hard as we do, and we do a lot of intervals, there’s really nothing that ever can replace race intensity,” she said. “There’s no ways of really imitating racing in training even with motor pacing and all these things that we might try to do.”

Moolman Pasio has come close to winning the Giro Rosa before; in 2018, she finished second overall. As a strong climber and sound descender, the final stages of the race should suit her. Friday is short at 91 km yet features two stout climbs, the second of which ends with an uphill finish. Saturday’s final stage is a circuit race, and each of the four 27.5 kilometer laps includes an ascent of the Motta Montecorvino climb.

So how does the South African national champion plan to spend the last two days of her tenth Giro Rosa?

“I’m just really happy to be getting more and more into the race rhythm each day and really looking forward to the final two stages,” she said. “Tomorrow’s quite a nice stage with again a short, steep climb at the finish, so I’m hoping to have even better legs than in the previous days and to try and give it a go.”