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Elisa Longo Borghini takes second place in Philly Classic World Cup

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini finished in second place in the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, the sixth round of the 2015 UCI Road World Cup, at the top of the super-steep Manayunk Wall. The 23-year-old Italian crested the top of the climb first, but was just overtaken in the flatter, final 100 metres by former British Champion Lizzie Armitstead, who crossed the line just ahead. Belarus Champion Alena Amialiusik (Velocio-SRAM) took third place, two seconds later.

“I’m really happy with my race,” Longo Borghini said afterwards. “The team was really good and worked well. Giorgia [Bronzini] wasn’t feeling great in the final so she said me to go full gas on the wall.”

The 115km race was made up of six laps of a 19.2km circuit, based on the flat road of Valley Drive, along the Schuykill River, with the climb of Lemon Hill at one end and the fearsome Manayunk Wall at the other. Thanks to the severity of the final climb, with the finish line right at the top, the race took on similar characteristics to La Flèche Wallonne, with most of the big names saving themselves for the tough final kilometre.

Longo Borghini’s second place crowned a magnificent team performance from Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, with all six riders to the fore during the decisive moments of the race. Several times, Australian Chloe Hosking and former Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin led the peloton onto the Manayuk Wall, keeping their teammates close to the front and out of trouble. Japanese Champion Mayuko Hagiwara marked virtually every dangerous-looking group that escaped the peloton on the fast riverside sections, while American Mara Abbott and former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini were on hand in the final lap to control the front of the peloton.

“The race wasn’t tactically really hard,” Longo Borghini explained. “Emilia managed to put me and Giorgia all the times in the right position before the Manayunk wall, she was really strong. Mayuko covered all the attacks that were launched by the American riders who were really aggressive.

“In the end Lizzie was just faster! “ the Italian conceded.

The early laps of the race saw a long, solo attack from Jasmin Glaesser (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and the peloton was content to allow the Canadian rider to stay ahead of the peloton for almost three laps. She was never allowed more than a minute, however, and was caught before she could reach the Manayunk Wall for the third time.

One of the more dangerous moves came when Armitstead’s teammate Megan Guarnier attacked on the final descent of Lemon Hill, but Bronzini followed the United States Champion closely and was able to stifle the attack. Former Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling rider Charlotte Becker (Hitec Products) then managed to escape and open a useful gap and, as the German was caught, former Italian Champion Dallia Muccioli (Alé-Cipollini) tried her luck.

It was always going to come down to the final ascent of the Wall, however, and, although Longo Borghini was able to crest the steep slopes in the lead, Armitstead’s sprint saw the British rider take the win on the final, flat 100 metres.

1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
3. Alena Amialiusik (Velocio-SRAM)

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