Future is bright for SA’s women cyclists

TOP-NOTCH. Africa's top female rider Ashleigh Moolman Pasio feels the women's sport is on the rise on the continent. Picture: Gallo Images.

Women’s cycling in Africa is on the up and up, according to the continent’s top female rider, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, who believes that South Africa will need to focus on depth to maintain the pace.

Moolman Pasio defended her road race and individual time trial titles at the African Continental Championships in Egypt earlier this month, but she was the only member of the depleted SA women’s elite team to step onto the podium.

With teenager Heidi Dalton unable to compete in the elite division after earning UCI points this year in the junior category, Moolman Pasio and An-Li Pretorius were the only SA senior women who turned out at the annual event.

“I am happy with the points we earned but it is disappointing that we didn’t have a full elite women’s team,” Moolman Pasio said this week.

“The level of competition among the African women has risen drastically over the past two years.

“This is very encouraging and great to see, but with full teams of four women from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt (in the road race), An-Li and I found ourselves heavily marked.”

Pretorius was fourth in the road race, after helping her teammate grab a third successive gold medal, and took fifth place in the individual time trial.

Eager to qualify for major international championships, including next year’s Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Moolman Pasio said they could have earned more UCI points had they had a full squad.

“We found that with a shortened road race (reduced from 93km to 62km) on a rather flat course, we lacked the numbers to ensure more medals.”

With the junior women’s team, however, snatching five medals at the continental showpiece, Moolman Pasio believed the future was bright for women’s cycling in the country.

Three members of the junior women’s team (Dalton, Mikayla Olivier and Andri Coetzee) will be stepping up to the elite level next year.

“After spending some time with our juniors in Egypt, I’m feeling very positive about the future and potential of South African women’s cycling.”

today in print