"Goooo!" Marianne shouted from across the bunch but I was already out of the saddle to cover the attack. It was the last 3km of Trofeo Alfredo Binda and our group of eight off the front only had a 15-second gap. Marianne and I seemed to have an easy unspoken way of communicating what needed to be done but now the moment was too important for her to hold it in.
I could feel the heavy burn of fatigue in my legs from my last attack but I had to cover this move. I shut down the BePink rider with 1.6km to go but that was the easy part. I couldn't allow another move to go or let the chase group catch us so, by any means necessary, I had to keep the pace high. With the chase group only seconds behind us, the last kilometre demanded every single watt I had.
I had my head down but as we turned the final corner I looked up to see the finish line and launched into a lead-out. Marianne passed my shoulder first, followed by the rest of the breakaway riders contesting the sprint, and then I saw Marianne's hands fly into the air. We had won! Convincingly. Perfectly. Together.
Marianne didn’t have to say anything. I had just done my job. I had followed the team strategy and done my best but she showered me in gratitude. Endless thank-yous, hugs, smiles, and it was not only uplifting and motivating but powerful for her to say what didn’t need to be said. I could feel the bond between Marianne and I grow stronger.
Our winning display of teamwork had also captured some outside attention. Since Trofeo Alfredo Binda was broadcast on television, the response from fans after seeing such a strong and successful show of teamwork meant the story of our win had been shared. A simple results sheet doesn't tell how we were down a rider from illness, how Riejanne and Jeanne kept Marianne and I fresh for the final laps, or how I had to bury myself to get Marianne to the final sprint. People were saying how "exciting" the racing was, how "professional" and "skilled" we were as a team. Seeing the race meant that people had shared the experience, they knew the story of teamwork behind the win.
Hearing such great positive feedback from both the team and fans filled me with excitement and motivation. When our stories are told and shared it has the power to create a positive ripple effect that reaches all corners of women's cycling—from showing other riders the value of teamwork, to demonstrating the power and need of television coverage to race organizers and fans. CCC Liv will go on winning, women's cycling will continue to develop, but, as our win in Binda showed me, there is value in speaking what is usually left unspoken.
So, to everyone in the world of women's cycling, speak up. Let people know you want to see the races on television; reach out to the teams and riders and let them know you're supporting them; if you see good racing tell people about it; and, at the very least, encourage other women to ride bikes.
Ashleigh-Moolman-Pasio is a world-class climber and the newest member of CCC-Liv (formerly Waowdeals). She has written a regular blog for Cyclingnews since 2016, touching on topics of gender equality in women’s and men’s professional cycling.