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Elisa Longo Borghini fourth in gripping World Championship Road Race

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini finished agonisingly close to the medals in today’s World Championship Road Race, in Richmond, Virginia, as she crossed the line in fourth place in a highly selective group. Great Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead took the victory, ahead of the Netherlands Anna van der Breggen, while Italian Longo Borghini was just pipped to the line by the United States’ Megan Guarnier at the end of a thrilling 129.6km race.

“I felt really good on today’s race,” said Longo Borghini, who took the Silver Medal in the 2012 World Championships. “I would have liked to give a medal to my country, because I’m proud to be Italian and I always want to see my nation on the podium.”

The race had seen a nine-rider break that included Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling riders Audrey Cordon-Ragot of France, and Emilia Fahlin of Sweden – as well as 2016 signing Amy Pieters of the Netherlands – which looked for some time like it may have stayed away from the finish. On the last of the eight laps of the 16.2km Richmond circuit however, the peloton caught the group. Longo Borghini was comfortably close to the front of the bunch as it began the final rise to the finish, with Italian Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate Giorgia Bronzini not far behind her.

Former two-time Road World Champion Bronzini suffered an unfortunate mechanical in the closing metres, however, leaving Longo Borghini to sprint for herself.

“I didn’t know Giorgia had a mechanical and I hoped that Elena [Cecchini] and her came back for the sprint,” she explained. “That’s why I waited to start the sprint.”

Despite several breakaway attempts, where only solo riders had been able to escape the peloton, the race stayed largely together for much of the race. On the penultimate lap, however, the group of nine riders escaped and, with virtually all of the strong teams of the race represented, was able to get more than a minute clear.

With attacks from within the group slowing its progress, however, and a strong chase from the peloton, the race came together on the final, cobbled climb of Libby Hill.

“It was a good race, I had some good legs and it was great to be in the mix at such a big event. It was a fun day out!” said Fahlin. “We had to cover the breaks, we had to have someone represented because we didn’t want to chase. I had to go with all the breaks, but I stayed out a lot longer than planned! I did a lot of work throughout the day, but it was good to get in the break.”

Fahlin was in the break on behalf of 2016 Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling signing Emma Johansson, who finished in fifth place behind future teammate Longo Borghini.

“I sort of expected that we’d get caught,” Fahlin explained. “The gap went out but I thought that the Dutch wouldn’t be happy because we were nine riders and it was a bit of risk for them. We had a big gap, but I expected them to come towards the end.

“It was fun being out there together with Audrey!” she laughed. “It was a great atmosphere, which made it really cool as well.”

Cordon-Ragot was there on behalf of defending champion Pauline Ferrand Prevot. With a lead of over a minute it looked as though the group might stay clear, but it all came together as the peloton accelerated behind.

“I’m really satisfied of my race, I did the job I had to do and in a moment I thought maybe it could be my day,” the Frenchwoman smiled.

“I felt really good and I tried with all my forces to go ’til the end but the Dutch team decided to chase after Amy Pieters told them that she was not good enough to win today. It was the perfect plan for Armitstead who just had to wait her hour!

“I was not worried to be caught because I knew that Pauline could sprint for the win,” she added. “We are close to a new podium and it’s a great result for us.”

Photo credit: Sonoko Tanaka

1. Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain)
2. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
3. Megan Guarnier (United States)
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)


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