On Saturday, 1 February, at a launch in Amsterdam, Dutch companies Mansystems and Sport Medisch Centrum Papendal (SMCP) announced its support of South African cyclist Ashleigh Moolman Pasio in her bid to win gold in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Moolman Pasio who rides for the Hitec Products professional team based in Europe, will receive access to world class coaching from the SMCP centre leading up to 2016.
The relationship with the centre came about after representatives of Mansystems visited the Flèche Wallonne World Cup last year where Moolman Pasio finished third, and immediately noticed her talent and determination.
“Ashleigh was looking for sponsors to help her to make her dream come true,” said Arnold Zwart, a founding member of Mansystems. “Until then she did everything on her own together with her husband and the rest of the family. When I learnt about her long-term goals I was positively surprised. She shows determination and focus to play a role in the development of a strong South African women’s cycling team and to empower South African and other African women cyclists to follow their passion and pursue their dreams.”
Zwart continued: “Realising that the right technical and medical support could increase her chances, I approached a friend of mine who is the owner of SMCP. Their staff tested Ashleigh and the outcome was that she has all the qualities to become a top cyclist and many improvements can be made with the right professional support. Mansystems decided then to sponsor the support by SMCP for the next 2,5 years leading up to the Olympic games in 2016.”
Moolman Pasio said after representing South Africa at the 2012 London Olympic Games where she finished 16th in the road race, it was key to gain more support to realise her goals at the highest level of the sport. She is looking forward to having access to the experience of sports physician, Tjeerd de Vries, at SMCP.
“The higher one climbs up the international cycling ranking, the more important the marginal gains become,” Moolman Pasio says. “Although I've been fortunate enough to have some amazing opportunities cycling abroad for Lotto Belisol and now for Hitec Products, in women's cycling, it is usually very much up to the national federations to take care of the high performance side of things. Although I'm really thankful to have SASCOC's support, South Africa is still a developing cycling nation and I feel we still have a lot to learn. I'm really excited about this relationship with SMCP, as the Dutch are currently the leaders in women's cycling. I knew the first time that I met with Tjeerd de Vries that he was a guy that I could work with. He is a great person and he has extensive experience in men and women's cycling.”
In return, de Vries says he is eager to get to work with the 28 year old as initial test results of her VO2 max and lactate test in 2013 were very exciting.
“She is world class,” de Vries said. “She already has a proven track record, but wants to win more and be the best she can be. She has the athletic ability to dominate the sport. Evidence of that is her VO2 max and power to weight ratio’s uphill. The rest is working hard, recovery, being up front at all the important races and some luck. She has all the fundamentals, but there is room to improve on key factors towards the absolute top level. It’s important to have a dedicated team of people with all the relevant knowledge and tools around her, which she can trust and rely on during the season. All she should be doing is training, racing and recovering.”
Moolman Pasio lists her goals for 2014 as being ranked in the top 10 on the UCI world rankings. Her focus will be more on one day races, in particular the World Cup series. Winning a medal at the commonwealth games is also a target as is finishing on the podium at the season ending world championships.
Long-term, she’d like to see the development of women’s cycling on the African continent. Zwart says this outlook was a key factor in Mansystems putting its support behind the cyclist, as the company is passionate about changing the fortunes of the youth on the African continent and is already involved in various initiatives such as its Flock of Birds organisation.
Photo Credit: Monique Smit/Monique Smit Fotografie, Netherlands
Source: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio Press Release