Returning to top-flight competition, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio admitted she had been hampered by a niggle on Saturday after settling for 18th position at the Strade Bianche road race in Italy.
The Cervelo-Bigla rider, who broke her hip in a crash late last season, finished one minute, 46 seconds (1:46) off the pace in the 127km one-day contest, which formed the first leg of the 2017 Women’s World Tour.
Olympic bronze medallist Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy (Wiggle High5) won a hard-fought battle at the front of the peloton in 3:44:45.
“My hip just locked up so the race was maybe a little too hard,” Moolman-Pasio said.
“It was the first real test and this is a hard race, but I am still ahead of where anyone thought I’d be, so I am happy.”
With the race also forming the fifth leg of the Men’s World Tour, South African team Dimension Data secured another top-10 finish.
British rider Scott Thwaites took 10th place for the SA-registered outfit in the 175km men’s contest.
He was nearly three minutes behind former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) of Poland who broke clear up front to win convincingly in 4:42:42.