Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio puts off retirement to join AG Insurance-NXTG

LABASTIDA SPAIN MAY 13 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio of South Africa and Team SD Worx competes during the 1st Itzulia Women 2022 Stage 1 a 1059km stage from VitoriaGasteiz to Labastida ItzuliaWomen UCIWWT on May 13 2022 in Labastida Spain Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo MorenoGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio has put off her planned retirement at the end of 2022 and agreed to ride for the Belgian AG Insurance-NXTG team as they step up to WorldTour level in 2023. 

The South African, who turned 36 in December, will act as a mentor for the young riders in the team and target the Ardennes Classics and stage races like the Tour de France Femmes, where she was one of the best riders this year before leaving the race with illness.

She announced her decision to race on in 2023 and join AG Insurance-NXTG in as video.  

“I was very certain I would retire after this season. It’s what I announced to the world but gradually the idea to continue started to gain ground in my mind,” Moolman-Pasio said. 

“I had one of my best seasons to date and even at 36 I make progress every year. My level is higher than it’s ever been so here we are.”

Moolman-Pasio is one of the most experienced riders in the women’s peloton and has been part of Lotto Belisol, Cervélo-Bigla, CCC Liv and SD Worx during her career. 

She is a multiple South African champion and will now share her wealth of experience with the 2023 AG Insurance-NXTG riders.

“You know me. I like to share and talk. Cycling is not only about riding hard. There is so much more to it like nutrition, your mental health and recovery. Living a life as a full-time pro is something you can learn and I can’t wait to share my life experiences with the team,” she said. 

“Of course, having the team on my mind already, I followed them closely during the Tour de France Femmes and was impressed by the way they really rode as a team with and for each other. Despite the setbacks they experienced with two riders crashing out, they kept their morale up and even wore the white jersey. It was inspiring to see for me.”

AG Insurance-NXTG has focused on developing young riders in 2022 but intends to step-up to WorldTour level in 2023, accepting the financial requirements of the highest division. 

Julia Börgstrom, Anya Louw, Gaia Masetti, Lone Meertens, Ilse Pluimers, Ally Wollaston, Britt Knaven and Maud Rijnbeek will step up from the Under 23 team, with a new generation of riders selected for the Under 19 and Under 23 teams.  

Jolien D’hoore is lead sports director, with Natascha den Ouden team manager and men's QuickStep-AlphaVinyl team manager Patrick Lefevere offering strategic advice and support.  

“I was not even sure if I wanted to continue but when Natascha and I chatted I felt an instant connection to her and the decision was made. We share the same values when it comes to cycling but mostly, we are both incredibly passionate about this sport and the development of women’s cycling,” Moolman-Pasio explained. 

“Having Jolien behind the wheel and being reunited with her is also a great prospect. She coaches the riders from the car. Her energy helps the team forward. 

“I can mentor the riders from inside the bunch. Not as their ultimate team leader from an ivory tower but always as part of the unity that the team comes across as. We rise by lifting each other. I am also looking forward to learning from them, despite the age gap.” 

Moolman-Pasio started her career in 2010 with Lotto-Soudal. She has won 42 races and used her climbing skills to finish on the podium of the Giro Donne in 2018 and 2021. In 2020 she won the inaugural ESport World Championships in a thrilling two-up sprint to the finish line against Australia's Sarah Gigante.

“Despite those 42 wins I am not a prolific winner but I am one of the most consistent riders in the peloton,” she explained. 

“Even at 36 I am still highly ambitious. I really want that elusive Flèche Wallonne win after nine times in the top seven of that race. I also want to aim for the yellow jersey in the Tour de France Femmes next year. 

“I look at my career now year by year and am by no means announcing my retirement already. I did that once before.” 

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