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Anna Sanchis completes the double with Spanish Road Race Championship

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Anna Sanchis completed the double at the Spanish National Championships, adding victory in the Road Race to that taken in yesterday’s time trial. The 27-year-old from Valencia confirmed her return to the top of the sport, following last year’s virus-hit season, with an emphatic sprint on the uphill finishing straight in Cáceras, in the east of Spain, close to the border with Portugal. 2013 Champion Ane Santesteban (Inpa Giusfredi) finished second, ahead of Alicia Gonzalez (Asturiana), one second behind Sanchis’ victory celebration.

“I’m so happy!” Sanchis exclaimed. “I didn’t think I could win today. I’m not really fast in the sprint, but it was an uphill sprint and it was okay; I won!”

Having held both the Road Race and Time Trial in 2012, and the Time Trial in 2013, Sanchis’ retaking of the double title again confirmed that she is once again over the problems that dogged her last season.

“It’s really really good!” she laughed. “I’m very, very happy!”

The 111km race saw a group of seven riders escape the peloton, and build up a substantial lead. Sanchis soon joined a chase group of six, however, which steadily reeled them in over the rolling parcours. The break was finally caught with just 300 metres to go, but Sanchis had not been worried about the possibility of those riders remaining clear.

“I know that the strongest girls were not in the breakaway, so everyone in the chase was controlling ourselves,” she explained. “In the end we decided to work together to bring back the breakaway, and at the finish it was really fast.

“It was a really, really hard sprint,” Sanchis explained. “Today it was really hot, it was more than 40 degrees. Every girl was really tired, the race was really affected because of the heat, but in the end I felt really good. I had a lot of power in my legs, I couldn’t feel the affects of yesterday.”

Sadly, in Italy and France, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon-Ragot were just unable to add Road Race titles to the Time Trial ones that they both hold. Both riders took the Silver Medals in their respective championships behind solo breakaway riders.

Riding in the colours of the Fiamme Oro, Longo Borghini went into the Italian Championships as the outstanding favourite, but was just unable to catch defending champion Elena Cecchini (Fiamme Azurre) on the steep uphill finish to Superga, near Turin, despite passing the rest of what had been a 12-rider break. The 23-year-old Tour of Flanders winner crossed the line just 21 seconds behind Cecchini, with Dalia Muccioli (Alé-Cipollini) another two seconds back in third.

“I was riding on the front from kilometre 40,” Longo Borghini explained. “I had to chase, together with a teammate. I chased for almost 80km, and I tried to do my best on the climb, but I didn’t catch her.

“She was riding with the FIamme Azurre, who were seven, and we were only two. The race is always strange, and in the end this break went away and nobody would work with us; even teams that had nobody in the break.

“I’m pretty happy that Cecchini won, because she’s a strong rider. But I wanted the nationals, I wanted the tricolore. I didn’t want anything else this season. It was really important for me, and I really wanted to win. I thought I was the strongest, but sometimes the smartest wins.”

With the Giro d’Italia on the horizon, Longo Borghini’s outstanding form will make her one to watch on any terrain. The 23-year-old cannot hide her disappointment that she won’t be lining up at the start of the road stages wearing the flag of her country.

“I had pretty good legs,” she confirmed. “I went away when I wanted, even after I had chased for 80km, but I’m just really sad not to win. Sometimes you just have to say the truth: it’s not only flowers all the time.”

In Chantonnay, France, Cordon-Ragot also found herself chasing alone, as World Champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo-Liv) escaped in the second half of the race with Amélie Rivat (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope) and Fanny Leleu (Normandie). The 25-year-old managed to catch both Rivat and Leleu, eventually dropping the Normandie rider, but was unable to close down Ferrand Prevot.

The Rabo-Liv rider eventually crossed the line, to take her second straight French Road Race title, two minutes ahead of the sprint for second place, where Cordon-Ragot was easily able to outpace Rivat to take the Silver Medal.

Spanish Championship Photo Credit: Luis Angel Gómez/Ciclismo a Fondo

Result Spanish Road Race Championships
1. Anna Sanchis (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)

2. Ane Santesteban (Inpa Giusfredi)
3. Alicia Gonzalez (Asturiana)

Result Italian Road Race Championships
1. Elena Cecchini (Fiamme Azurre)
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Fiamme Oro)
3. Dalia Muccioli (Alé-Cipollini)

Result French Road Race Championships
1. Pauline Ferrand Prevot (Rabo-Liv)
2. Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Amélie Rivat (Poitou-Charentes Futuroscope)


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