Ashleigh Moolman Pasio wins maiden women's UCI Cycling eSports World Championships

The South African claims her first ever rainbow jersey

eSports World Championships Women

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio celebrated her birthday in style by becoming the first ever women’s winner of the eSports World Championships.

The South African rider attacked on the finishing climb of the Watopia circuit to claim the maiden rainbow bands in the discipline.

The 35-year-old, who on the road will join SD Worx from CCC-Liv for the 2021 season, secured her first ever world championship title.

Australian Sarah Gigante impressed in the race and finished second, with Swede Cecilia Hansen securing the bronze.

The 50km race - which took place using Zwift - saw the riders complete two laps of a circuit that included 242m of climbing in each lap.

Two climbs were positioned on the Watopia route – one a 2.4km effort with a very shallow gradient of 1.8%, and a finishing 800m effort with a 5.6% average gradient.

The chances of a breakaway forming and going the distance was low given the lack of climbing metres, but fast and frenetic opening kilometres meant that a select group of riders hit the front and distanced many.

Around 30 riders converged at the head of the race, including road stars Anne van der Breggen, Annemiek van Vleuten and Lisa Brennauer.

Solo attacks didn’t look like coming until Britain’s Dani Christmas made her move inside the final 15km.

Christie Tracy then went clear for the United States, holding an advantage of 13 seconds over her compatriot Lauren Stephens. The front group, however, were in touching distance. In the final 10km, the leaders changed frequently, with Olivia Baril of Canada also threatening to ride clear.

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Into the final three kilometres and Gigante of Australia carved out a 15 second lead, but her lead was wiped out by the foot of the final climb.

Emerging front of the pack was Moolman Pasio who stormed up the ascent to become the maiden winner of the women’s e-sport race.

Gigante narrowly finished second in the sprint to the finish, less than a second shy of the South African, with Sweden’s Hansen coming home in third.