This year’s Durango Durango was won by Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, the South African timing her attack on the final climb well so that only Ane Santesteban and Claire Steels were able to contest the win with her. Spain month pushed on with another one-day race, this time seeing 4 local laps with a minor climb before heading away from the circuit to take on 3 sharp climbs before the end.
Mireia Benito was the most active in the early part of the race, ensuring she won the intermediate sprints prize and also taking some points on the first major climb of the race too. That was an early sign that AG-Soudal Quick-step fancied their chances today. After an attack by Alice Palazzi, she was joined by the likes of Emma Norsgaard, Gaia Masetti, Debora Silvestri (racing for Laboral Kutxa for the first time after leaving Zaaf Cycling) and Tamara Dronova. This move took some close but once it had, Justine Ghekiere took over the pacing on the second major climb.
That uptick in pace saw the peloton thin to just 15 riders at the front of the race. Israel Premier-Tech were well positioned with Steels and Dronova in that group but a mechanical at the base of the final climb neutered the chances of the Russian but Anna Kiesenhofer managed to claw her way back into the group at the same time. Moolman-Pasio attacked not long afterwards, with Steels and Ane Santesteban unable to go with her initial move. Around 1km from the summit, the Spanish rider was back on the wheel of the South African and the pair rode the descent back to Durango together.
The lack of time gaps meant it was a surprise when Claire Steels suddenly got back on and whilst she might have ridden over the top of the unsuspecting pair, she chose to sit in and rest before the final sprint. As it was, Moolman-Pasio quite relatively early on a narrow sprint course and neither Santesteban nor Steels had an answer for the attack. That secured a second win of the season, after victory earlier in the year at Setmana Ciclista Valenciana.
“I am really happy to win this race. The teamwork was just exceptional today. Everyone was fully committed. Mireia, Lotta and Gaia covered all the moves and tried to in the breakaways in the early, local laps. Gaia managed to do so after we left the local laps so that was an ideal situation. We caught her in the final and then Mireia was amazing and focused. When we hit the penultimate climb Justine paced the peloton and it became much much smaller. After all their hard work I knew I needed to finish it off.
I hit the final climb all in on the steep part and went solo. I don’t know how because the gap was quite big but Ane Santesteban managed to come back but I stayed focused. Jolien encouraged me on the descent via the radio and then she coached me on the sprint. I trusted her advice and believed in myself and finished it off. It’s a great confidence boost going into the Vuelta a Burgos. This also sets the tone for the run-up to the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift where I want to ride for the win.”Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio
2023 Durango Durango result
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