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Olympian Ashleigh on the brink of SA cycling history
- Updated: November 16, 2012
If Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Momentum-Toyota) wins the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge women’s race on Sunday she’ll ride her way into South African cycling history.
That’s because no rider, male or female, has ever managed to win the Cape Argus, the South African Road Championship, the African Continental Championship and the Cycle Challenge in the same year.
Moolman-Pasio returned from Burkino Faso this week where she had won the women’s road race, as well as the individual time trial at the African Continental Championship. On the latest rankings that were released by the UCI on Sunday, Moolman-Pasio is ranked 18th. Her previous best ranking was 22nd.
Moolman-Pasio admits that she is tired. ÔÇ£It’s been a long, hard season and an Olympic year as well.ÔÇØ But there is still one last goal that she wants to achieve before taking a well-deserved break.┬áShe wants to ensure that either she, or one of her team-mates, namely Jo van de Winkel, Robyn de Groot and Cherise Stander, wins the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge on Sunday.
Moolman-Pasio’s motivation is partly due to the fact that Toyota South Africa will donate an extra R20 000 towards the road safety campaign that is being run by the Pedal Power Association, if any one of the Momentum-Toyota riders should win the women’s race.
The message that Toyota South Africa, in partnership with the Pedal Power Association (PPA), wants to emphasize during the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge on Sunday, is that maintaining a distance of merely 1.5 metres from cyclists is all that is required to save their lives. Toyota South Africa wants to use the race to raise R50 000 for the campaign.
As a professional cyclist who spends hours on South African roads, Moolman-Pasio fully appreciates the importance of this initiative. ÔÇ£To win the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge is already a huge honour, but to win knowing that you have made a contribution towards cycling safety in South Africa, will be much more special.ÔÇØ
Judging by the results of the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge during the past three years, it seems almost certain that Toyota will have to pay up the R20 000.
The riders of the Momentum Toyota team, namely Moolman-Pasio, Van de Winkel, Stander and De Groot, have been dominating the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge since 2009. Van de Winkel won in 2009, Stander in 2010 and Moolman-Pasio in 2011. Apart from these victories, De Groot came second in 2010 and Stander in 2011.
The team also formed the core of the South African squad that competed at the Olympic Games in London, as well as at the UCI World Championships in the Netherlands.┬á Moolman-Pasio’s 16th place finish at the Games and 12th place finish at the World Championship, showed that the Momentum-Toyota riders are capable of holding their own against the world’s best.
But the saying ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ was not coined without a reason. Moolman-Pasio is well aware of this and she made it clear that her team-mates and she will have only one goal on Sunday and that will be to ensure a victory. ÔÇ£It really does not matter who wins, as long as it is one of us.ÔÇØ
Unbelievable as it may sound, Sunday will be only the third time that Moolman-Pasio will compete in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge. ÔÇ£There were various reasons, most of them related to injuries, why I did not compete more often in the 94.7 Cycle Challenge. But I just love everything about the race.┬áI love the challenge, the atmosphere and the thousands of spectators along the route who make us all feel special.
ÔÇ£Basically the Cycle Challenge just provides us with a wonderful excuse to be on our bikes and ride through the streets of Johannesburg.ÔÇØ