After racing 440 km over four days, CCC-Liv’s Ashleigh Moolman Pasio climbed her way into a third-place finish in the General Classification at the first European tour of the year, Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.
The race came at the end a week and a half-long training camp for the CCC-Liv Team in Girona, where the riders made their final push in endurance and technique training before the start of the Spring Classics. Heading into Setmana Ciclista Valenciana, the team announced their intentions of going for a GC result while taking the opportunity to develop the abilities of some of the younger riders.
After the first two stages, it was clear Moolman Pasio was in a position to be competitive, just 15 seconds behind the GC leader. Stage three, which took place on Saturday, marked the biggest challenge of the four-stage race and would ultimately determine the classification. The 110km route hinged on a four-kilometer climb with gradients reaching above 20 percent that was situated just five kilometers from the finish line. A smaller climb at 80km had done some work to break apart the peloton before the final climb, but a large group still held tight as they approached the final ascent, including Moolman Pasio, Pauliena Rooijakkers, Valerie Demey, and Riejanne Markus. Several riders attempted attacks, including Rooijakkers, but were reeled back in. Finally, Moolman Pasio got away with two other riders and though she lost sight of first place, was able to battle it out to finish second on the stage and moved into third in the GC. Without the difficulty of the previous day, CCC-Liv was unable to pull back any more time during stage four and Moolman Pasio held onto her GC podium.
“Ashleigh has a nice third place here”, said sports director Jeroen Blijlevens. “Some raced for a good ranking, others used it mainly to refine their form. There have been constant attacks. Consequently, it has been a tough four days of racing.”
Next up, road racing in Belgium kicks off March 2-3 with Omloop het Nieuwsblad and Omloop van het Hageland. Then, the Women’s WorldTour will officially begin in Italy on March 9 with Strade Bianche.