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Combative Longo Borghini denied victory by 200 metres in Women’s Tour stage four

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini was awarded a well-deserved Combativity Prize at the end of the fourth stage of the 2015 Aviva Women’s Tour, between Waltham Cross and Stevenage, in Hertfordshire. The 23-year-old Italian Tour of Flanders winner escaped with just over 30km to go, along with Sabrina Stultiens (Liv-Plantur) and almost managed to hold off the chasing peloton to the finish. German Champion Lisa Brennauer (Velocio-SRAM) won the 103km stage, ahead of Swedish Champion Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) and Finnish Champion Lotta Lepistö, after Longo Borghini and Stultiens were caught in the final 200 metres.

“We had a plan,” Longo Borghini said afterwards. “Audrey [Cordon-Ragot] was going to attack after the first sprint, and I was to attack at the last GPM – at the end of the climb – Audrey’s attack didn’t really work out, but she ended up doing the sprint – and actually winning it. Eventually, my attack worked out, and I broke away together with Sabrina Stultiens, and in the last 200 metres they caught us back.”

With the five-day race still wide open, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling decided that an aggressive stage was the best way to make the race, by putting pressure on the other big teams. With Longo Borghini still high up in the General Classification, a successful attack could have netted the Italian both the stage victory and the race leader’s Yellow Jersey.

Unfortunately, the 23-year-old was denied in the very last metres, but has no regrets over the team’s chosen tactics.

“We respected the plan, and we raced like the plan was, but in the end we missed 200 metres,” she smiled. “But I’m happy this way because we raced really well and we were organised. We wanted to put some pressure on the other teams, to chase me, so in general – even though we didn’t get the result – we raced well and we stuck to the plan.”

Cordon-Ragot’s part in Longo Borghini’s breakaway was also part of Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s strategy for the stage and, even though her own attack was quickly closed down by the peloton, her aggressive riding eventually laid the foundations for her friend and teammate to escape.

“We did exactly what the plan was, and we have no regrets,” Cordon-Ragot said. “We wanted to race really aggressively, and to make the others work. Because during the other three first days we chased, and we worked a lot, and the other teams were waiting for us. So to have someone at the front, we can sit back.

“It’s really important in a stage race that everybody works,” the Frenchwoman added. “Because if you arrive less fresh than the others in the last day, it’s a danger.”

With 20km to go, the duo had around a minute’s lead over the peloton but, with the rain falling harder on the already-wet Hertfordshire roads, conditions were making it increasingly difficult for the two riders to stay away.

“It could have been enough,” Longo Borghini said. “I like racing in the wet, although I had a bad crash actually in the wet, but I still like it; I like when it’s rainy. But maybe if it was dry I could have taken the corners a bit faster; taken some more risks, but with the nationals coming up – and the Giro – it’s not worth risking your life!”

“For sure she was going to make it,” Cordon-Ragot concurred. “But in the end it was really wet and tricky, so she had to go slow. For sure, without this problem she would do it!”

With just one stage left of the Aviva Women’s Tour, the general classification is still very close, with Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore in third place. The Belgian Champion goes into the final stage with no expectations for her own personal result, but Longo Borghini is confident that the black and orange team will be able to do something.

“We have a very strong team, and I think we can do a good result,” Longo Borghini said. “Tomorrow sounds like a harder stage, compared to this one. I think we can do something.”

(Photo Credit Picture 2: Balint Hamvas/


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