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Ashleigh Moolman Pasio pulls out of Tour de France Femmes

LE MARKSTEIN FRANCE JULY 30 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of South Africa and Team SD Worx crosses the finishing line during the 1st Tour de France Femmes 2022 Stage 7 a 1271km stage from Slestat to Le Marksteinc TDFF UCIWWT on July 30 2022 in Le Markstein France Photo by Dario BelingheriGetty Images
Moolman Pasio was off the pace on stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes (Image credit: Getty Images)

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio will play no further part in the Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift, pulling out due to illness after struggling on the first mountain stage of the race. 

The South African climber had been expected to be among the battle for the yellow jersey on the mountain stages of the final weekend but was short of her best on Saturday. 

She was dropped from the main groups of contenders as Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) exploded the race on the first climb. Moolman Pasio finished down in 18th place, more than 13 minutes down on the new race leader in 12th place on the overall. 

The explanation for the sub-par performance, which saw her conceding seven places on the GC at the very moment when the race hit her preferred terrain, would appear to be illness. Moolman Pasio cited an 'infection' as she revealed she would not be starting the final stage of the race on Sunday.

"It's with a heavy heart that I say I won't be starting today. I've come down with an infection and with medical advice I've decided to respect my body," she said. 

"It's crazy how fast things can change... from feeling super strong and that I have what it takes to win... to feeling totally empty in the space of only a few hours. As pro athletes we literally live on the edge... we are constantly walking a tight rope and unfortunately I've come short this time."

Moolman Pasio was part of a two-pronged attack for SD Worx and reached the mountains fifth overall, just ahead of her teammate Demi Vollering. However, leadership was soon decided on Saturday's stage 7, as Vollering was the only rider able to get anywhere remotely close to Van Vleuten. 

Moolman Pasio's abandon leaves Vollering relatively isolated on the final stage, which finishes on La Super Planche des Belles Filles, as none of her remaining teammates has quite the climbing pedigree of the South African. There's also the added disappointment for Moolman Pasio of not reaching the finish of such an important and historic race in the development of women's cycling, in which she has played a significant role. 

"Thank you for all the amazing support over the past few days! It has been truly special to be part of this incredible race .. there is no doubt it is the biggest race in the world and women's cycling will be better for it. Thanks to all those who made this happen," Moolman Pasio said.

"It will take me a few days to process the disappointment, but I will never lose hope and I'll be back stronger to fight again. Wishing my teammates lots of strength for the final stage!"

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