Ashleigh Moolman Pasio will no longer compete in the Women’s Tour de France With Zwift, dropping out due to illness after struggling on the race’s first mountain stage.
The South African climber was expected to be part of the battle for the yellow jersey during last weekend’s mountain stages, but she didn’t give her best on Saturday.
She was dropped from the main groups of contenders as Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) blew up the race on the first climb. Moolman Pasio finished in 18th place, more than 13 minutes behind the new race leader in 12th place overall.
The explanation for the lackluster performance, which saw her concede seven places in the overall standings just as the race touched her preferred ground, would seem to be an illness. Moolman Pasio cited an “infection” as she revealed she would not start the final leg of the race on Sunday.
“It is with a heavy heart that I say I will not be starting today. I caught an infection and with medical advice I have decided to respect my body,” she said.
“It’s crazy how quickly things can change…from feeling super strong and that I have what it takes to win…to feeling totally empty in just a few hours. As professional athletes, we literally live on the edge…we constantly walk a tightrope and unfortunately I missed this time.”
Moolman Pasio was part of a two-pronged attack for SD Worx and reached the mountains fifth overall, just ahead of teammate Demi Vollering. However, the lead was quickly decided on Saturday’s Stage 7 as Vollering was the only rider able to get anywhere remotely close to Van Vleuten.
Moolman Pasio’s retirement leaves Vollering relatively isolated on the final stage, which ends on La Super Planche des Belles Filles, as none of her remaining teammates have quite the South African’s climbing pedigree. There is also the additional disappointment for Moolman Pasio not to have reached the finish of such an important and historic race in the development of women’s cycling, in which she played an important role.
“Thank you for all the amazing support over the past few days! It’s been really special to be part of this amazing race…there’s no doubt it’s the greatest race in the world and women’s cycling will be on its way.” better. Thank you to everyone who made this possible,” said Moolman Pasio.
“It will take me a few days to deal with the disappointment, but I will never lose hope and I will be back stronger to fight again. I wish my teammates a lot of strength for the finals!”