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Elisa Longo Borghini third in Giro Rosa Stage Seven Time Trial

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini came within a few seconds of her first ever Giro d’Italia Femminile stage victory as she took third in the stage seven time trial between Albisola and Varazze. The Italian Time Champion, wearing the green jersey of leader of the Mountains Classification, completed the hilly 21.9km course in a time of 36 minutes, 25.06 seconds, which was less than three and a half seconds slower than stage winner Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans).

“I didn’t expect to go so well today,” Longo Borghini said. “Actually when I arrived I didn’t know anything and I realised I had the first time only because my mother told me!”

The fantastic performance, which saw Longo Borghini finish almost a minute quicker than the provisional leader at the time, came just a day after the Italian suffered badly on the hilly sixth stage. Having dropped out of general classification contention, however, the 24-year-old bounced back with a performance that eclipsed most of the rest of the peloton.

“After yesterday I didn’t want to push too hard,” she explained. “I started and I was feeling ok, so I kept going.

“Yesterday I had a heat stress and I suffered a lot. I had the worst day of my cycling life!”

Having eclipsed the then fastest time set by Stevens’ teammate Karol-Ann Canuel by almost a minute, Longo Borghini had to wait to see if the later starters could push her out of the hotseat. Several riders finished, unable to beat the Italian Champion, until 2015 Giro Champion Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) crossed the line 72 hundredths of a second quicker.

Soon afterwards, Stevens finished almost three seconds faster than van der Breggen, pushing Longo Borghini down to third place on the stage. Despite coming so close to a first stage victory in her home tour, however, Longo Borghini is far from disappointed with her third podium finish of the 2016 race.

“Oh no!”: she laughed. “I was already glad I was on my bike today!”

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Mara Abbott finished just outside the top ten, in twelfth place, one minute and 49 seconds behind compatriot Stevens. Unfortunately, this meant that the American two-time Giro winner slipped off the overall podium to fourth place.

1. Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv)
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

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