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Elisa Longo Borghini a close second in Giro Rosa Stage Two

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini came within just a few metres of victory in the second stage of the Giro d’Italia Femminile, between Tarcento and the uphill finish at Montenars. The Italian Time Trial Champion was narrowly beaten to the line by Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans), who only managed to squeeze past in the final metres, while Polish Champion Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv) narrowly beat Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s two-time Giro winner Mara Abbott in the race for third.

“It was very close today, I almost believed I won,” Longo Borghini said. “Evelyn passed me at the last 50 meters.”

As two riders with many similar characteristics, and who aim for similar targets during the season, it is not the first time Longo Borghini and Stevens have come face to face at the finish of a major race finish.

“If it’s true that everything turns, today was the day,” the Italian explained. “In 2014 I relegated her at the fourth place during Flèche Wallonne by passing her at 75m to go.”

The mostly flat 11km stage was run at a high pace, as Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling worked with the other strong teams to stop riders from getting clear. As the final 3km climb approached, the black and orange team worked hard to split the peloton and, as Abbott drove a fast pace up the steep slopes, it was only a very select group that was able to contest the final sprint.

“The team was working really well,” Longo Borghini said. “Mara speeded up the climb and held a very high pace. We were four at the sprint!”

With overnight leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans) gapped at the finish, the pink jersey passed over to teammate Stevens. Longo Borghini, who rode the stage in the green jersey of Mountains Classification leader, has risen to fourth overall, and takes over the blue jersey as Best Italian Rider from Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling teammate Giorgia Bronzini.

Abbott’s performance raised the American to sixth overall and, although teammate Longo Borghini is two places ahead of her, the Italian rider is only too willing to sacrifice her own general classification chances in favour of a third Abbott Giro victory.

“I will be at the disposition of Mara,” Longo Borghini said, repeating her intention declared before the start of the race. “I expect to be dropped very soon!”

1. Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
3. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Rabo-Liv)
4. Mara Abbott (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

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