Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is fully recovered from the illness that took her out of contention at the South African Championships last month. The Cervelo Bigla rider says that she’s feeling strong and that her legs are firing ahead of Strade Bianche on Saturday.
“I’ve just come from South Africa where I had a bit of a rough time with illness at the National Championships,” Moolman-Pasio told Cyclingnews on the eve of Strade Bianche. “After that I had a really good training block at altitude in South Africa and the legs are firing again. I’m feeling really good.
“I’m looking forward to Strade Bianche as it will be my first race in Europe this year. Unlike the other girls in the team, I haven’t seen the form of the other riders in the peloton yet.”
The first event of the inaugural Women’s WorldTour, Strade Bianche, promises to be a big show with the world best teams and riders set to rival one another on the white gravel roads in Tuscany.
“I’m excited for the first Women’s WorldTour event,” Moolman-Pasio said. “This is an Olympic year so it does change preparation a bit but I am looking forward to racing hard with the team.”
Moolman-Pasio was fourth last year at the event's first edition. Megan Guarnier of Boels-Dolman won the race with a powerful solo attack, with teammate Lizzie Armitstead taking second ahead of Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda). In the final, Moolman-Pasio put forth several pack-shattering attacks but in the end she had to settle for fourth.
“I think it’s a beautiful race,” Moolman-Pasio told Cyclingnews. “The first edition was really amazing. I love racing on gravel roads. This might sound absolutely crazy but I love taking my road bike on gravel roads. It’s super exciting and I really enjoy it.
“Strade Bianche is definitely one of my favourite races on the calendar and I look forward to it. In terms of what it gives to spectators, it’s really awesome with the scenery and the riders going off road. We will have to see what the weather does. If we have rain on the day it could change things completely but it is a race that is suited to me.”
Although she is looking forward to the beginning of the Women’s WorldTour, Moolman-Pasio suggested that the peloton might have a split focus; those targeting the Women’s WorldTour and those targeting the Olympic Games. In either case, she believes it will be an exciting season for the women’s peloton. She told Cyclingnews in an interview in January that her main goal of the season will be bringing home a gold medal from the Olympic Games.
“It’s an Olympic year so that changes a lot of things in women’s cycling because the Olympics is so big to us. It’s interesting having a WorldTour that starts in an Olympic year. We could possibly find that it makes women’s cycling more interesting. It will be evident quite early on who the girls are who are focussed on the Olympic Games because they might not want to be on their best form now.
“On the other hand there are some who might not be targeting the Games because the course doesn’t suit them so they’ll target the WorldTour.
“I’m certainly one of the riders who is targeting the Olympic Games so we will have to see how things play out.”