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Zwift Classics: Moolman-Pasio wins Trofeo Bologna

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Rowe&King) won the third round of the Zwift Classics at Trofeo Bologna winning the race to the top of the San Luca ascent. The South African climber beat runner-up Lou Bates (R3R) by 14 seconds and Ella Harris (Canyon-SRAM) in third by 35 seconds.

The Pro/Am Invitational Zwift Classics resumed, after the first two rounds at Yorkshire Grand Prix (women’s teams) and London International (men’s teams), with the Trofeo Bologna. There are six events in total, which happen every four days. Pro/Am women’s teams and Pro/Am men’s teams alternate racing the six different events. 

This year, the 24km Trofeo Bologna was set up for the women's teams to race the Bologna uphill TT course, a replica of the the opening stage of the 2019 Giro d’Italia. The women raced the course twice, whereby the Queen of the Mountain was crowned on the first ascent of the San Luca climb and the race winner on lap two. 

Riders to watch included Zwift Academy winner Ella Harris and Elena Cecchini  (Canyon-SRAM), Cecilia Hansen (Heino), Megan Barker (Great Britain), Ione Johnson (Canyon-ZCC), Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Rowe&King) and Georgia Taylor-Brown (Superleague Tri), along with riders from the American-based team Twenty20.

Barker led the field through the gradual downhill and flatter sections at the start of the circuit. Moolman-Pasio, who is one of the strongest climbers in the world and normally races for CCC-Liv, was also in the mix at the front of the race early on.

Another Zwift Academy winner Tanja Erath (Canyon-SRAM) was the first to attack just four kilometres into the race but that was a short-lived attempt and she was brought back into the fold within a few metres.

At nearly 7 W/kg, Moolman-Pasio attacked at the base of the climb and then settled into roughly 5-6 w/kg for the duration of the ascent. The climb started at 10 per cent gradient and then increased to 12 per cent and then 15 per cent. Her efforts caused the field to split with a small group of nine riders leading the way.

As the climb reached 16 per cent, Moolman-Pasio continue to push the pace until only one rider could hold her wheel - Lou Bates (R3R).

Over the top, Bates picked up the QOM, and the two riders pushed out 17-second lead as they descended at 60-70 kph back onto the flatter sections of the circuit.

Harris led the chase group of seven riders on the flats and reduced the gap quickly. They caught Moolman-Pasio and Bates with 13km to go to form a lead group of nine riders. Other riders in the lead group were Hansen, Rachel Elliott (KRT), Lizi Duncombe and Oliva Bently (VISN), Shanni Berger (FEAR) and Sylvie Boermans (AHRD).

The riders had the option to use a feather light-weight power-up, an in-game feature that reduces a rider’s weight by 9.5kg, which would come in handy on the final climb.

The pace of the lead group dropped slightly as the riders tried to save some energy before the base of San Luca, but the gap still held at 30 seconds to the main field.

Moolman-Paiso led the front group through the hairpin at the base of the climb, and as the gradient hit 13 per cent, she pushed 7 W/kg. Boermans came to the front briefly, as did Elliott .

On the steeper pitches, riders started applying their feather light-weight power ups but no one was a match for Moolman-Pasio, who pushed upwards of 8 W/kg with 900 metres to go. It was enough to give her a four-second gap on Bates.

The South African time trialled her way to the finish line to take the win of the Trofeo Bologna.

Brief Results
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Rowe&King) 0:41:49
2Louise Bates (R3R) 0:00:14
3Ella Harris (Canyon-SRAM) 0:00:35
4Rachel Elliott (KRT) 0:00:36
5Sylvie Boermans (AHRD) 0:00:39
6Cecilia Hansen (Heino) 0:00:44
7Oliva Bently (VISN)
8Lizi Duncombe (VISN) 0:00:48
9Shanni Berger (FEAR) 0:00:55
10Elena Cecchini (Canyon-SRAM) 0:01:19
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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