After technical issues on stage four of the Virtual Tour de France on Zwift, CCC-Liv’s Ashleigh Moolman Pasio was eager for a good result on stage five. Saturday’s queen stage included a third category climb before tackling a virtual version of the legendary Mont Ventoux (22.9km) with an average gradient of 4.9 percent.
With under 7km to go, CCC-Liv’s Pauliena Rooijakkers made a break, pushing 300 watts and thinning out the front of the peloton to about 12 riders. Rooijakkers opened the field for Moolman Pasio to take the lead. She put down the power out of the saddle to extend a huge lead on the rest of the pack. Only one rider could stick with her, but Moolman Pasio kicked up the pace again and crossed the finish line solo – 23 seconds ahead of her nearest competition.
“I was really happy to take the victory in the queen stage of the Virtual Tour de France,” said Moolman Pasio. “My team was really great today. Now, I’m really looking forward to racing in the real-world next week with my CCC-Liv teammates.”
CCC-Liv finished fifth as a team in the general classification after the final stage on Sunday.
Without the opportunity to compete in a real-life Tour de France, the Virtual Tour has been a welcome opportunity for pro women’s cyclists. Competing on the same stages and for the same television coverage as the men, the race has been a huge boost toward gender equality in cycling.
“The racing on Zwift has been really great for women’s cycling,” said Moolman Pasio. “I have a lot of appreciation for Zwift and the push they give for women’s cycling. They make it their mission to do everything equal – equal racing and equal exposure. It’s really great to have forward-thinking brands like Zwift that are really pushing women’s cycling forward and giving us the platform. When we’re given the platform, there is no doubt there is an appetite to watch our racing.”
The CCC-Liv team gears up for their first races on the road this week in Spain, with Emakumeen Nafarroako Klasikoa July 23, Klasikoa Navarra July 24, and Durango-Durango July 26.