The first time I met Marianne Vos was in South Africa. The Dutch national team were close to my hometown for a winter training camp and, thanks to Martine Bras, they invited me along for a training ride. It was the first time I was star-struck. Marianne was everything in women's cycling, and not only that, all the other riders were also incredibly accomplished and talented. Inside I felt giddy and awkward at the same time. Thank goodness riding a bike is like riding a bike because I'm not sure I could've managed to act normal doing anything else.
We were split up into smaller groups of three and four, and low-and-behold I was with Martine and Marianne. I followed their wheels as we rode out to do an interval session. Looking back, I was still so green. I had only one European season under my belt and it was pretty short thanks to two broken collarbones. Still, I managed to hold my own on the ride and, much to my delight, Marianne was encouraging, friendly, and even complimentary. Since then, we've always had great interactions and I've continued to admire her for her down-to-earth attitude and inspirational leadership, not to mention her cross-discipline achievements on the bike. She's a beacon for women's cycling in so many ways.
When the offer came for me to co-lead WaowDeals (soon to be CCC Team) with Marianne Vos, I was beyond excited. I thought back to when we had first met and how young I was in the sport. It has taken an immense amount of work to get to where I am today and now here was an opportunity to lead alongside a rider I have always looked up to.
Honestly, I thought I would never leave Cervelo Bigla. We've worked really hard as a team to create a culture that operates with integrity - on and off the bike - and still has an ambitious positive spirit. I've also just had the best season of my career so why, and how, could I walk away from all of that?
The more you race, the better you are at reading a race. You learn what a successful attack looks like, what wheels to follow, and when to make a move yourself. It's always a now or never moment. If you hesitate, if you decide it's too risky or not worth the effort, you could miss the winning move. The move that would have set you up for growth and greatness, the move that becomes the effort you remember, the risk that paid off, and the decision that made all the sacrifices and hard work worth it, the move that gives yourself a chance.
When the offer to ride with Marianne on WaowDeals came, I knew it was the move. Thank goodness it wasn't a race situation, because I definitely hesitated thinking about my current team, but it's the right opportunity, with the right people, at the right time and I want the chance.
A huge thanks to everyone at Cervelo Bigla; the staff, sponsors and riders, for their belief and support over the years. I wish everyone at Cervelo Bigla the best of luck and I look forward to seeing their future successes.
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.
From South Africa, Moolman-Pasio turned professional with Lotto Ladies Team in 2010, spent one season with Hitec Products in 2014 and the last four seasons with Cervelo-Bigla. She made a move to CCC-Liv in 2019 and will race alongside her long-time mentor Marianne Vos.
She’s a versatile rider who was second at Flèche Wallonne, fourth at the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastonge-Liège, and second behind Annemiek van Vleuten at the Giro Rosa in 2018. This year, look for Moolman-Pasio at the front end of the peloton, and on the podium, during the Spring Classics and at the most mountainous stage races on the Women’s WorldTour.
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