Despite giving up sprinting for village signs, Elisa Longo Borghini’s fast finish earned her overall victory in the Women’s Tour on Saturday.
After starting the final stage level on time with Grace Brown, the Italian champion needed to find time in the final bunch kick to take the win.
In was an exciting finish to what was the tightest edition in the Women’s Tour’s eight year history, the Trek-Segafredo rider rode into Oxford needing to finish third or better to take the honours.
And she duly obliged. Her third place behind Lorena Wiebes (DSM) won her four bonus seconds and overall victory by one solitary second.
It might have been easier for the Trek-Segafredo rider had the first of two intermediate sprints gone to plan. There she benefited from an excellent lead out from her team, but could not convert the chance, finishing out of the bonuses. Brown took all three seconds and the general classification seemed settled.
“We decided to go for the intermediate sprint and I was fourth, so I was like, okay, that’s the second place,” Longo Borghini told journalists after the race.
“But then my team mates kept me up, and they said we try at the finish line and we do the lead out for you.” The 30 year-old is not renowned as a sprinter and is happier climbing or against the clock. In April she soloed to victory at Paris-Roubaix and she has taken plenty of other victories in similar style.
But the hurly burly of bunch kicks is not normally her natural habitat, even if we do often see her late in a lead out for her team mates. “I was really doubting but when you see such a team that is motivated and really believing in you, you just want to give them back everything.
“Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] led me at 500m and I know in corners I am pretty good, so I let some riders go in to take the draft and I sprinted on my own.”
Longo Borghini’s has sprint improved in recent seasons, on stage three of the Women’s Tour last Wednesday she placed fifth, once again behind Wiebes. However, the next day she raced into Welshpool as part of a three woman group, with Brown and Kasia Niewdiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), but finished third in the sprint.
So, despite the win there’s clearly work to do. “I was sprinting with my boyfriend for town signs, but we stopped. We regretted that in stage four when I was third out of three and he was joking with me.
“We will be back sprinting for town signs soon.”
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