Cycling-Moolman-Pasio sprints to victory in inaugural Esports World Championships

Dec 9 (Reuters) - South African Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio edged Australia’s Sarah Gigante in a thrilling final sprint to win the inaugural UCI Esports World Championships and celebrate her 35th birthday in style.

Cycling on the popular Zwift training platform, the women’s race, featuring 54 participants, including double road world champion Anna van der Berggen and former world champion Annemiek van Vleuten, took place on the Watopia’s 50km figure eight course.

Moolman-Pasio surged into the lead with under 2kms to go after the use of a powerup and held off a late challenge from Gigante across the final 300 meters to clinch the victory by 0.064 seconds and take home a virtual and physical rainbow jersey.

“It felt really awesome. I wasn’t a fan of virtual training before the lockdown but to now win the virtual World Championships, I’m super proud,” Moolman-Pasio said. “It’s now time to celebrate.”

Sweden’s Cecilia Hansen pipped American Laura Stephens to the final podium spot. (Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge)