Moolman-Pasio becomes first South African in top ten UCI rankings
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has made history by becoming the first ever South African to finish in the top ten of the UCI rankings. The South African national champion moved up from ninth to sixth after her victory in Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge.
The Bigla Pro Cycling Team also finishes the year as the fifth ranked team in the world.
Last night, Moolman-Pasio was also recognised in her home country when she won the South Africa Sport Award for Sportswoman of the Year for the second year in a row.
“I'm super happy to finish the year ranked 6th in the world, I couldn't have asked for a better ending to what has been a great year with Bigla,” Moolman-Pasio said. “I have been striving to break into the top 10 world ranking for a few years now, and to finally have made it, I'm incredibly grateful. It is not easy as a rider from the Southern Hemisphere to make a career of cycling in Europe, and I hope this achievement can inspire other South African's and African's to realise that with hard work and determination anything is possible. I certainly didn't do this on my own, and I'm incredibly grateful to all of those who have played a role in helping me reach this goal over the years.”
Team manager, Thomas Campana added insight to the achievement: “When we started working with Ashleigh it was never the plan to look at the UCI ranking but we noticed it was more important for her to get balance and confidence back in order to have good platform going into an Olympic year of 2016. The top ten position in the UCI ranking is just a confirmation of reaching those goals. It’s a great achievement for Ashleigh to be the first African rider to achieve these top rankings. I think in two or three weeks she will realise what she has achieved this year and it will give her more motivation for next year.”
Moolman-Pasio has had a breakout season, starting the year off by winning national and African continental road and time trial titles. In Europe, top ten placings followed in Strade Bianche, Le Smayn, Elsy Jacobs and Fleche Wallonne. Her success continued when she won her first ever tour in Europe, taking the stage and overall on the final day of Auensteiner-Radsporttage.
She continued her impressive campaign with second overall in Euskal Emakumeen Bira, missing the victory by one second then placing fourth overall in the Giro Rosa, the only Grand Tour in women’s cycling.
2016 will be an Olympic year and the games will be a target. “Finishing in the top 10 world ranking in the year preceding the Rio Olympics is great for my motivation and confidence. I feel that my consistent performance through the year and the lessons that I have learnt along the way will be a great boost going into 2016, as I continue to strive to push boundaries and grow as an athlete and person,” Moolman-Pasio concluded.
Asked what this achievement means for the new look Bigla Pro Cycling Team, Campana added, “For the team, the success of the captain is important. For next year we have a group of young competitive riders and more experienced riders and to have a leader who is in the top ten riders in the world is very important. This is pure confidence for all the athletes. After the race in Joburg all the girls were walking around with broad shoulders and you could see that they’ve grown and we wanted to end the year like this.”