In her first race back since fracturing her hip in a crash at the Chronos des Nations in October, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo Bigla) wasted little time proving she's back up to full speed, winning her fourth South African time trial title Thursday in Wellington.
Moolman-Pasio covered the 27.1km course in a time of 38:10, more than three minutes quicker than runner-up Juanita Venter, to take her fourth title. Moolman-Pasio also won the event in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
"It's awesome to win the title back," Moolman-Pasio said. "I actually haven't really been on the TT bike after the injury last year, and I just realised how at home I feel on the TT bike. It's one of the reasons I joined Cervélo Bigla, because of the amazing partners we have and the focus on the TT."
Moolman-Pasio was off the bike for months after fracturing the iliac bone in her hip when she collided with a police motorcycle that had parked in the middle of a roundabout to protect another crashed rider at the Chronos des Nations time trial.
"The rehab has gone well," Moolman-Pasio said. "There were a few instances where I've been compensating with my back and I've had to back off a bit. There have been obstacles along the way in the recovery, but I've learnt to take my time in the recovery. This has been a slower build up than the past, which is a blessing in disguise after seven years of racing in Europe and South Africa non-stop without a good break. This result today is good for the confidence to show that things are on track for the year."
Before her crash, Moolman-Pasio, who is in the last year of her contract with Cervélo Bigla, enjoyed a highly successful 2016 season. She finished third overall in the Euskal Emakumeen XXIX Bira before winning a stage and the overall at the Auensteiner-Radsporttage. She backed that up with second in the Aviva Women's Tour and the overall at the Giro Toscana. She represented South Africa at the Olympic Games in Rio, finishing 10th in the road race and 12th in the time trial.
The 128.7km South African road race championship takes place Saturday.