The first stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift was one of mixed emotions for AG Insurance – Soudal Quick Step. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio left a strong impression and finished fifth on the stage. On the other hand, the team had to say goodbye to Mireia Benito, who crashed out early on in stage one.
“Mireia was brought to hospital after her crash. Scans and further examinations revealed a concussion, but no other serious injuries. She is in the care of the team now and will travel home for further recovery soon,” said team doctor Sophie van Bakel. The team wishes Mireia well and will miss her in the race and on the team bus.
In a stage that took the riders from Clermont Ferrand back to Clermont Ferrand, the sting was in the tail. The only climb was 9,3 kilometres from the line, the Côte de Durtol. It was short at only 1,7 kilometres, but steep enough to really make a first selection in the peloton for the general classification, including Ashleigh.
Romy Kasper was the last of the team’s efforts in the run-up to the climb and she piloted Ashleigh to the front. She picked up a point for the Queen of the Mountains classification, but even more importantly, Ashleigh finished in the group of favourites in fifth place, 41 seconds behind winner Lotte Kopecky.
“It’s disappointing to lose Mireia because she is strong teammate,” said Ashleigh. “We are still very focused and strong as a team though. Today everyone rode well together and dropped me off at the foot of that climb perfectly. I felt good on the climb and followed the wheel of Demi and Marlen. Lotte took the element of surprise, but I am happy with my legs. There are more hard days to come.”