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‘Finally it’s my chance:’ Ashleigh Moolman Pasio relishes first WorldTour win at Romandie

South African veteran puts overall victory at Tour de Romandie Féminin in view after difficult year.

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Ashleigh Moolman Pasio’s win on stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie Féminin was an extra special occasion for the SD Worx rider, her first win at the highest level after a difficult year of racing.

The South African outclimbed Annemiek van Vleuten on the ascent to Thyon 2000, denying the world champion and Tour de France Femmes winner to the kind of victory she has become known for.

Moolman Pasio attacked a four-rider group to go away with Van Vleuten on the final 17km climb, before then also riding away from the Dutch rider in the last 3km.

“At some point it was just Annemiek and I,” she explained. “Then I really felt ‘OK, the legs are good today’ and finally it’s my chance.”

Also read: Ashleigh Moolman Pasio is sticking around because of the Tour de France Femmes

Saturday’s win was a long-awaited one for Moolman Pasio, and her very first at Women’s WorldTour level. A rider who is often on the podium but not usually on its top step, she relished “finally” taking a win in the last WorldTour race of the season.

“It’s been a year full of bad luck,” she said. “So finally it all came together and I’m very happy to win a WorldTour stage – actually the first WorldTour stage victory for me, so it’s really special here, at the Tour of Romandie in Switzerland.”

Moolman Pasio took her last win on stage 9 of the Giro d’Italia Donne last year – when the race was at 2.Pro level – but her 2022 season was punctuated by setbacks and bad luck.

During the spring, it was a battle for leadership with teammate Demi Vollering that often put Moolman Pasio in difficulty, not always being able to race for the win in the classics.

She then rode well at the Tour de France Femmes in the summer, but the 36-year-old suffered with illness on the final weekend, failing to start the final stage having been 12th on GC.

After previously announcing her intention to retire, Moolman Pasio reversed her decision, and will be racing for AG Insurance-NXTG in 2023. Formerly a dedicated U23 team, the outfit will have an elite squad this year, of which Moolman Pasio will fit into a mentor role as well as being one of their better climbers.

With one stage remaining, Moolman Pasio has a 30 second lead on GC, and said her team will “do everything to keep the lead” on tomorrow’s final stage into Geneva.

“Now I want to win the Tour de Romandie,” she said after the stage.