4th in 2014, 2nd in 2015, 3rd in 2016… and 1st in 2017. It didn’t even look likely after a week of almost total domination by the Orica-Scott team, but Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) was able to win the Emakumeen Bira with a massive effort on the main climb of the last stage: Jaizkibel. It was a close call, but good enough for her to win.
The stage started with three Orica-Scott riders on top of the GC: Katrin Garfoot, Annemiek van Vleuten and Amanda Spratt. Moolman-Pasio was 4th at 34 seconds. However, there was not much room for tactics on a climb like Jaizkibel. The stage was fast, including lots of attacks and a considerable selection made by the Alto de Arkale, 33km to the finish.
As soon as the main group hit the first steep slopes of Jaizkibel, Moolman-Pasio attacked. And she attacked really hard — no rider was able to follow her rhythm. Orica-Scott had a bit of a dilemma. Garfoot, the race leader, was not as strong as Van Vleuten, who is also a better descender. In the end, the Dutchwoman didn’t wait for her Aussie teammate and crested Jaizkibel some +30 seconds behind the South African, with the diminutive Basque rider Eider Merino (Lointek) on her wheel.
Van Vleuten descended extremely fast and was able to close most of the gap with Moolman-Pasio, but it was not enough to keep the race jersey inside her team. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Annemiek van Vleuten and Katrin Garfoot were on the final GC podium; Eider Merino, 4th overall, won the best Basque classification, Nikola Noskova was the best young rider, Moolman-Pasio got both the mountains and points jerseys, Katie Archibald won the prize as the fastest rider on the intermediate sprints, and Orica-Scott was the best team of the race.