Ashleigh Moolman Pasio is a big medal hope for the Tokyo games. Photo: Matthew Childs/Reuters

Dimension Data team principal Doug Ryder believes female sensation Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio is South Africa’s best hope of a cycling medal at next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. 

Moolman-Pasio has been one of the shining lights of South African road cycling over the last few years continually stepping onto the podium at major races across the globe. 

She has finished eighth at this year’s UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, England despite a host of obstacles. 

Moolman-Pasio managed a top-10 finish without support from teammates while she also had to battle logistical problems thanks to a lack of support from the South African federation. 

The South African team could at least count on some logistical support from Ryder and Team Dimension Data.

Speaking at a media luncheon on Tuesday, Ryder said he believed Moolman-Pasio had the potential to win a world championship and Olympic medal in the same year. 

“I honestly believe she is a real champion, she is ranked 10th in the world, she deserves an Olympic and a world medal,” Ryder said.

“I think Ashleigh will be an Olympic and world medallist next year. Switzerland (world championships) will be super tough, but I think she can win a medal in both.” 

Tuesday marked the end of the Olympic qualifying window where nations could earn a maximum of five athletes for the men’s category and four in the women’s section in the road race at the Tokyo Games. 

In the men’s category, South African finished among the top 17 nations in the world earning three Olympic spots while the women earned four for next year’s showpiece. 

While it was good news that the women would be able to field the maximum quota of women, Ryder said a lack of depth provided some bad news. 

“It is just that, do we have the women to go and support Ashleigh…we saw the lack of depth in women’s cycling at this year’s worlds because that was a race that could potentially suit us,” Ryder said.

“She was spectacular, but she didn’t have the legs at the time when it counted, but it showed her fight. That is the challenge, and she has to ride off the stronger teams and nations and be lucky.”

Team Dimension Data will rebrand as Team NTT Pro Cycling in 2020 as it switches from the South African name to that of its parent company of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) of Japan. 

@ockertde


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