SA’s Wonder Women Quartet for Giro d’Italia Femminile

Four South African women have displayed their prestige in the international pro road cycling world as they form part of an 8-member team to participate in a Grand Tour event.

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Joanna Van de Winkel, Marissa Van der Merwe and Cherise Taylor have been selected as part of the starting line-up for the Giro d’Italia Femminile, the women’s version of the Giro d’Italia, from the 1st -10th July 2011.

This is the most number of South African women that has ever been selected for a single race in an esteemed Grand Tour event in Europe – the most we have had in the past has been one rider.

The fantastic news comes merely a year after Cycling South Africa agreed to co- fund an existing local initiative that supports South African women pro cyclists with their inclusion into the Lotto Ladies Team, a Belgian-based pro cycling team. The arrangement is such that CyclingSA is able to change team riders during the course of the season, which runs from March to September, resulting in more South African women gaining exposure at international level. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio however, is South Africa’s only permanent feature in the Lotto Ladies Team for 2011.

The project was launched two years ago for our ladies to race in an established European pro cycling team in order to gain valuable international team racing experience and equally valuable UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) points. Tallying UCI points at high profile international events such as the ’Giro assists in each of the riders’ overall world ranking and counts towards possible Olympic qualification.

CyclingSA offers additional funding in full support of the venture, as the costs to establish and manage a road cycling team to tour Europe are simply exorbitant.

Ashleigh’s talent and remarkable progress has not gone unnoticed and Lotto Ladies Team has snapped her up for a permanent team position this season; Joanna’s climbing skills have been commended resulting in being called up to join the team two weeks earlier than anticipated; Lotto Ladies Team is impressed by Cherise’s performances of late; and Marissa has delivered such excellent performances for the team that they have asked her to stay on in Europe.

It is evident that Ashleigh, Joanna, Marissa and Cherise are not selected to make up the numbers – Ashleigh is a serious top-10 contender in the general classification (GC) and will be vying for the Queen of the Mountain jersey and title.

Lotto Ladies Team Roster for 2011 Giro d’Italia Femminile:
Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio RSA
Joanna Van de Winkel RSA
Marissa Van der Merwe RSA
Cherise Taylor RSA
Ludivine Henrion BEL
Kathy Delfosse BEL
Rochelle Gilmore AUS
Vicki Whitelaw AUS