13th For Ashleigh at Strade Bianche

The Strade Bianche did not result in the top result AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step had hoped for, but the team yet again showed its prowess. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio was the best finisher in 13th place. 

For sports director Christian Kos, it was a day of mixed emotions. He had hoped a better result would be possible, but was also content with what he saw on the road from the relatively young and inexperienced team.

“We had a plan and we executed the plan, but the outcome was not what we hoped,” Kos summarised after the race. “This is the best we could do as a team today and we need to accept that.” 

Despite the rain earlier in the week in Tuscany, the white roads were as dusty as ever. Italian rider Gaia Masetti rode the Strade Bianche once before but this experience was a completely different one.

“It was a tough race as expected. I was asked to go in breakaways, which I did. The cooperation in that group was not really good so after a few kilometres, we were already caught again. Then we stayed together as a team as much as possible with the fifth, the most important sector, in mind. There were a lot of crashes before that. We all lost each other a bit but never gave up and survived that longest sector together. After that there were many attacks and it was really active. As a team we chased breaks but for the last three sectors I was empty. However, I am happy with my performance. We raced as a team and I am really proud of them all. It was so great to race in Italy. My parents were here too and that doesn’t happen every race anymore. It was great to get some extra cheers for me and for the team.”

Christian Kos added, “We had bad luck with that mechanical with Mireia, which cost some energy. She was sorry she couldn’t give more, but it’s not necessary to say sorry. Mireia, as the rest of the team, still gave everything for Ashleigh. We had a plan and executed it well. The result wasn’t there today but there will be soon.”

Having finished 3rd last year, expectations were high for Ashleigh Moolman Pasio. Beforehand, she expressed the hope that at least one teammate would be by her side after the important sector five. In the end Marthe Goossens, Mireia Benito, Gaia Masetti and Julia Borgström were all still there. She praised the team work and emphasised the team’s progress, although her predominant feeling was that of disappointment at not being able to reward the work of the team with a podium place.

“The girls really rose to the occasion and exceeded the expectations,” she said. “They covered the moves and were at the front. They were there when I changed bikes because I lost a bit of pressure at the back. It was a good moment and coming back went smoothly thanks to them. Personally, I am bit frustrated because I couldn’t finish off the teamwork in a better way. I was caught behind a near-crash and that cost me some positions. On the second-to-last sector, I was too far back and it was hard closing that gap. My result didn’t reflect the team performance and the feelings I had in the legs. For me it’s upwards and onwards towards the Ardennes with a stopover at the Tour of Flanders. With the big steps the team is making each race, I’m confident that our great teamwork will soon be rewarded in the Classics.”

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