Moolman-Pasio’s teammates Demi Vollering and Anna van der Breggen finished second and third respectively on the day, the latter still holding the maglia rosa with one stage left in what’s been a dominant race from team SD Worx.
“Wow. It really feels so amazing!" Moolman-Pasio said of the win.
"This is my 10th Giro and I have never won a stage. I only ever finished second and second in the GC but it’s really special to win a stage!”
With a category two climb of Stregna and an ascent of the category one Monte Matajur near the finish, the 122.6 kilometre stage loomed as the riders toughest test yet with news breaking prior to the start that Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) had abandoned to focus on her Olympic preparations.
Letizia Borghesi (Aromitalia Basso Bikes Vaiano), Asia Zontone (Servetto-Makhymo-Beltrami TSA) and Giorgia Vettorello (Top Girls Fassa Bortolo) went off the front to form the day’s first breakaway, stretching the lead to as much a 3 minutes and 28 seconds with 50 kilometres left.
As the gap reduced, Borghesi attacked again before the Stregna climb, dropping her two pursuers in the process before being reeled in two kilometres from the summit.
Longo Borghini and Moolman-Pasio took their chance as the riders approached the top of the climb, the pair cresting the summit with a 30-second advantage going into the descent as attempts to bridge from Elise Chabbey (Canyon-SRAM) and Lucinda Brand (Trek-Segafredo) were unsuccessful.
Clara Koppenburg (Rally Cycling) was forced to abandon the race with a suspected broken collarbone after a crash with Sofia Bertizzolo (Liv Racing) during the descent.
The lead duo stretched out their gap to two minutes and 18 seconds on the peloton as the course passed through the flat section before the Monte Matajur as more chase attempts from Anouska Koster (Jumbo-Visma) and Marta Bastianelli (Alé BTC Ljubljana) were thwarted by the peloton.
Moolman-Pasio launched away from Longo Borghini on a steeper section of the climb with eight kilometres to the finish, showing her strength as multiple riders in the chasing group of favourites were dropped.
Only Van der Breggen, Vollering, Marta Cavalli (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) remained as they passed Longo Borghini inside the last 4 kilometres, but couldn’t catch Moolman-Pasio who claimed her first stage win at the Italian Grand Tour.
Watch the highlights from the Giro d'Italia Donne on SBS from 3:30pm weekends or 4pm weekdays (July 3-12) or available earlier via SBS On Demand and the Cycling Central website.