Trek-Segafredo finally hit winning ways at Emakumeen Bira, with Elisa Longo Borghini taking the the overall win in the Basque Country.
The victory came after the former Italian champion won the final stage with a daring attack on the final climb and a solo, 18km ride to the finish.
Despite a concerted effort from behind, she held on to cross the line just four seconds ahead of the chasers, and with race leader Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott) unable to bag bonus time on the line, the Italian won overall by just two seconds.
Longo Borghini’s opportunity was set up the previous day when her team-mate Tayler Wiles won at the top of the fearsome climb to Santa Teodosia.
The American attacked on the penultimate climb, with a touch over 20km remaining, and held on to take the win in horrendous conditions. With her up the road, Longo Borghini was able to launch a late attack, taking second place, reclaiming time lost the previous day.
With last year’s winner Amanda Spratt returning to defend her crown, Mitchelton-Scott had been favourites for the race. In Spratt, Annemiek van Vleuten and Lucy Kennedy they have three of the best climbers in the women’s peloton.
However, they were put under pressure from day one, and duly took responsibility when it was asked of them. Though Spratt won the second stage, on stage three they seemed unable to chase Wiles down, allowing Trek-Segafredo back into the game.
Despite being touted as a new super team when they were launched, the Basque Country wins were Trek Segafredo’s first in the Women’s WorldTour, despite racing aggressively throughout the season to date.
That they achieved three wins in the space of 24 hours suggests they are set to fulfil their potential now they have established confidence in not only each other, but the squad’s attacking ethos.
How it happened
The first of the four days started and finished in Iurreta was relatively flat, the last of two classified climbs coming 40km for the line.
In an attempt to defend her title from the 2018 edition, Mitchelton-Scott’s Amanda Spratt bagged maximum time from two intermediate sprints. That left the Australian third overall, behind Jolien D’hoore who won the stage.
The former Belgian champion won the sprint with relative ease, her consummate, powerful sprint bringing her a first victory since joining Boels-Dolmans, after she lost her spring to injury.
Spratt moved into the overall lead the following day in Amasa. The 110.8km stage was aggressive throughout, and while it was deemed flat, finished on a steep one kilometre climb.
Set up by team-mates Lucy Kennedy and world time trial champion Annemiek van Vleuten, Spratt came to the front around 250 metres from the line. The slow motion sprint was painful to watch, but the Australian climber held off her challengers to take the stage and overall lead.
Trek-Segafredo launched their challenge for the race on Friday on what was the first serious climbing test. Under leaden skies, with cold temperatures and persistent drizzle, Tayler Wiles fired off the front at the bottom of the first of two climbs, with over 20km to go.
Despite efforts from both Mitchelton-Scott and Movistar, whose local race is Bira, she crossed the line first, with team mate Elisa Longo Borghini in second.
More importantly the victory set up the final day, with American Wiles loving to fourth overall and Longo Borghini in third, just 12 seconds down.
Emakumeen Bira XXXII, May 22-25
1. Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita) Trek-Segafredo in 12-21-41
2. Amanda Spratt (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 2 seconds
3. Soraya Paladin (Ita) Alé-Cipollini at 7s
4. Tayler Wiles (USA) Trek Segafredo at 14s
5. Mavi García (Esp) Movistar at 34s
6. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned) Mitchelton-Scott at at 36s
7. Katrine Aalerud (Nor) Virtu at 45s
8. Ane Santesteban (Esp) WNT Rotor at 1-07
9. Eider Merino (Esp) Movistar at 1-07
10. Cristina Martinez (Esp) Bizkaia Durango at 1-30
25. Sophie Wright (GBr) Bigla at 4-48
30. Natalie Grinczer (GBr) Bizkaia Durango at 8-28
64. Henrietta Colborn (GBr) Biehler Pro Cycling at 36-47
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Owen Rogers is an experienced journalist, covering professional cycling and specialising in women's road racing. He has followed races such as the Women's Tour and Giro d'Italia Donne, live-tweeting from Women's WorldTour events as well as providing race reports, interviews, analysis and news stories. He has also worked for race teams, to provide post race reports and communications.
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