Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio takes early lead in cycling time trial, but caught by champion Annemiek Van Vleuten and Co
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CAPE TOWN - She gave it her all, and even led at one stage, but South Africa’s Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio spirited effort was not enough as she finished eighth in Women’s Individual Time Trial cycling race at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old, who had secured 13th spot in the gruelling 137km road race on Sunday, pulled out all the stops to have a chance of contending for a medal in the 22.1km time trial in hot conditions at the Fuji International Speedway motorsport racetrack.
Moolman-Pasio was the 16th person to start her race in the 25-strong field, and set the pace throughout in comparison to the previous 15 riders.
She completed the first 9.7km the fastest in 15 minutes 13.50 seconds (15:13.50), and maintained her advantage at the 15km intermediate point with a time of 21:35.67.
Moolman-Pasio took the ‘clubhouse lead’ – to use a golf phrase – as she posted 32:37.60 for the other riders to chase, and immediately went to ground in exhaustion, with the temperature at 28 degrees Celcius and humidity at 65 percent after noon on Wednesday at the racetrack, which is located near Mount Fuji in Oyama, which is about 105km north-east of Tokyo.
Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) and Amber Neben (USA) soon went past the South African, though, with the likes of Australian Grace Brown and Lisa Brennauer going quicker too.
In the end, it was 38-year-old Van Vleuten who claimed the gold medal – to go with the silver from the road race – in a time of 30:13.49, and she was followed by Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser, 29, for the silver (31:09.96).
Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands, who was the last rider to start, came through for the bronze medal in 31:15.12 – the same result as Rio 2016, while the 31-year-old also grabbed a gold in the road race in Brazil.
In other early action on Wednesday involving Team South Africa, the Blitzboks rugby sevens team beat Australia 22-19 to advance to the fifth-place playoff against the United States at 10am SA time today, while the women’s hockey team lost 5-0 to the Netherlands.
Cycling Women’s Individual Time Trial Results
1 Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) 30:13.49
2 Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) 31:09.96
3 Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) 31:15.12
4 Grace Brown (Australia) 31:22.22
5 Amber Neben (USA) 31:26.13
6 Lisa Brennauer (Germany) 32:10.71
7 Chloe Dygert (USA) 32:29.89
8 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (South Africa) 32:37.60
9 Juliette Labous (France) 32:42.14
10 Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) 33:00.89