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Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio joins AG Insurance-NXTG for the 2023 season. The experienced South African rider will fit in perfectly as a mentor for our younger riders as well as showing the team colors in races that suit her climbing skills like the Ardennes Classics and stage races like the Tour de France Femmes where she was one of the best riders this year before sadly leaving the race with illness.

“I was very certain I would retire after this season,” Moolman-Pasio said. “It’s what I announced to the world but gradually the idea to continue started to gain ground in my mind. I had one of my best seasons to date and even at 36 I make progress every year. My level is higher than it’s ever been so here we are.”

Moolman-Pasio is one of the most experienced riders in the peloton and has been part of teams like Lotto Belisol, Cervélo-Bigla, CCC Liv and SD Worx. She is a proud, multiple South African champion who after a long career, is now eager to share her wealth of experience with the AG Insurance-NXTG riders.

“You know me,” she smiles. “I like to share and talk. Cycling is not only about riding hard. There is so much more to it like nutrition, your mental health and recovery. Living a life as a full-time pro is something you can learn and I can’t wait to share my life experiences with the team. Of course, having the team on my mind already, I followed them closely during the Tour de France Femmes and was impressed by the way they really rode as a team with and for each other. Despite the setbacks they experienced with two riders crashing out, they kept their morale up and even wore the white jersey. It was inspiring to see for me.”

The South African rider lives in Girona and had already spotted AG Insurance-NXTG before the Tour de France Femmes. A chat with team founder and CEO Natascha den Ouden made her even more enthusiastic.

“I was not even sure if I wanted to continue but when Natascha and I chatted I felt an instant connection to her and the decision was made. We share the same values when it comes to cycling but mostly, we are both incredibly passionate about this sport and the development of women’s cycling. Having Jolien behind the wheel and being reunited with her is also a great prospect. She coaches the riders from the car. Her energy helps the team forward. You can already see that now.

I can mentor the riders from inside the bunch. Not as their ultimate team leader from an ivory tower but always as part of the unity that the team comes across as. We rise by lifting each other. I am also looking forward to learning from them, despite the age gap,” she laughs.

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio is the first new signing for the AG Insurance-NXTG elite team. From the current U23 set-up the following riders have already been announced to step up to the elite team in 2023: Julia Borgström, Lone Meertens, Ilse Pluimers, Maud Rijnbeek, Gaia Masetti, Anya Louw, Ally Wollaston and Britt Knaven.

“We are very proud to have signed a rider like Ashleigh. She is both an amazing rider and a wonderful person. That connection, that click, we had was instant. It shows that the team has grown as well. People start to notice what we do and having a big name like Ashleigh postponing retirement to continue with us, shows how we are already perceived from within the peloton. Next year we hope to obtain a World Tour license but we will also continue our U23 and U19 development teams. Ashleigh is someone to look up to and her presence will be a boost to our elite team but most importantly to all the young riders on our program who want to become what she already is: a champion on and off the bike.”

Moolman-Pasio started her career in 2010 with Lotto-Soudal in Belgium. Her palmares counts no less than 42 wins including a stage in the Giro Donne and the overall classification of the Basque stage race Emakumeen Bira, arguably one of the hardest races on the calendar. She also podium’ed in the Giro Donne in 2018 and 2021.

“Despite those 42 wins I am not a prolific winner,” Moolman-Pasio explains. “But I am one of the most consistent riders in the peloton. Even at 36 I am still highly ambitious. I really want that elusive Flèche Wallonne win after nine times in the top seven of that race. I also want to aim for the yellow jersey in the Tour de France Femmes next year. I look at my career now year by year and am by no means announcing my retirement already. I did that once before,” she smiles.

More riders will be announced later this month as well as the riders of the U23 and the U19 teams.

© Tornanti_cc