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Moolman-Pasio grabs 10th in women’s road race
- Updated: August 7, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio raced to the best ever finish by a South African women’s road cyclist at the Olympics as she ended 10th on Sunday.
After hitting the front in the latter stages and ensuring the rainbow nation’s women’s cyclists will inspire another generation she failed to kick on on the last gruelling climb and had to watch as Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen covered the 136.9 kilometres quickest in 3hr 51min 27sec.
That, after her and silver medallist Emman Johansson of Sweden and Italy’s Elissa Longo Borghini had broken American Mara Abbot’s heart by catching her within 150m of the line on Copacabana beach and leaving her empty-handed.
Abbot in turn had been given a second chance at gold when Van der Breggen’s countrywoman Annemiek Van Vleuten (Ned) had blown her chances in a breakneck crash at speed inside the final 15km.
Van Vleuten looked to have the gold medal on a plate after an awe-inspiring injection of pace before she crashed out like a plate at a traditional Greek restaurant.
Moolman-Pasio ended up 1min 14sec off the pace and fellow South African An-Li Kachelhoffer was 38th, 10:02 off the pace.
Said Moolman-Pasio afterwards: ‘It was a tough day out there but I did my absolute best. In hindsight it would have been a lot better had I had more team-mates today as I got isolated in some spot and had to work that much harder than if I had more protection, but An-Li gave it her all.
‘I got to the bottom of the climb and gave it my all but just didn’t have what it takes on the day.
‘I would have liked a medal obviously but top 10 is still a good place and now I must step back and regroup for the time trial. It’s a tough course which gives me another chance.
‘Hopefully the fact that I was very visible today will inspire more women’s riders to follow my path. I was very grateful for all the support back home and very proud to be a South African.’
Asked how the support base is going to improve she went on: ‘We need to develop more depth and the girls must do their best to get over to Europe and gain that invaluable experience here.
For her part Kachelhoffer said: ‘Conditions were exactly what we expected with a headwind going out and then a tailwind coming back.
‘I’m just happy to finish today after such a gruelling race and it’s still a dream come true for me.
‘I’m happy with what I did.’ What’s next for her?‘Well maybe the next Commonwealth Games but I think the next Games in Tokyo are a bit far out… I still want to start a family.’
Results of SA women at the Olympics since re-admission in 1992
London 2012 – Ashley Moolman-Pasio, 16th in the road race
Beijing 2008 – Marissa van der Merwe, 34th
Athens 2004 – Anriette Schoeman, 55th
Sydney 2000 – Erica Green, 35th
Atlanta 1996 — no women
Barcelona 1992 – Jacky Martin, 46th
Picture of Moolman-Pasio courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen/SASPA