Returning in search of her maiden win, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio narrowly missed out on a historic victory on Wednesday, after the elite South African rider was edged into second place at the Fleche Wallonne.
Having finished in the top six on five previous occasions at the UCI Women’s World Tour one-day race in Belgium, Moolman-Pasio produced one of the best results of her career by taking the runner-up spot.
“It would be nice to win and it was close but I’m happy with a World Tour podium. We’re getting there one step at a time,” said Moolman-Pasio, who skipped the recent Commonwealth Games due to commitments with her Cervelo-Bigla professional team.
Though four riders separated themselves from the peloton and looked dangerous in the approach to the Mur de Huy, the breakaway was closed down at the bottom of the infamous climb.
Moolman-Pasio, who pushed hard to the line to complete the race just two seconds off the pace of Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans), credited Cervelo-Bigla team manager Thomas Campana for keeping her calm on the radio, admitting she had panicked after the small group opened a gap.
“When we hit the bottom of the Mur, they were in sight and I felt so good going up,” she said.
“I was unfortunately boxed in when I wanted to make my move but I could only go with about 150m to go and that wasn’t the steepest part anymore. We were very close to the win and I am happy.”