On a day that looked the be one for the sprinters in the peloton, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio again demonstrated that she has truly found her sprinters’ legs this year by winning stage 1 of the Tour des Pyrenées. The South African won the first stage to Lourdes and takes the first yellow jersey. Vital in her sprint was the guidance she received from sports director Jolien D’hoore.
“There are two rules in sprinting,” Jolien explained. “Have confidence and to know what to do. Ashleigh shows that confidence from the start of the season in Valencia and I encourage her from the car. Today’s race plan was for Lotta to sprint, but when the stage proved to be more difficult than anticipated, we followed the plan with Ash. She knew what to do and I told her every few seconds where she needed to be. If anything with Ash I need to slow her down. She was following many moves, but when she has legs like these, she is unstoppable.”
Moolman Pasio got her third victory of the year following a stage win in Valencia and the win in Durango-Durango. As always, she graciously praised her teammates’ hard work.
“We were together as a team and protecting each other in the first half,” Ashleigh said. “Then we had bad luck with Gaia sliding out, Lotta puncturing right after that and Britt crashing too. I ended up in the first group alone. On the penultimate climb I set the pace and FDJ-Suez who were represented with all six riders, attacked. I tried to cover all these moves and then I played it smart. Jade Wiel was not the biggest threat for tomorrow’s stage. I let her and then Jumbo-Visma brought her back.
In Lourdes it was all really technical. Jolien had been very clear in the sprint preparation the day before in case Lotta was there but then she wasn’t. And I was. Jolien had put so much time in that preparation. She had so much confidence in me and guided me perfectly. I pulled it all off and that’s so satisfying. Everyone worked so hard and to reward that effort is great. We now have the queen stage to Hautacum ahead of us. I am sure we can defend this yellow jersey as a team.”