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Elisa Longo Borghini third on Aviva Women’s Tour Queen Stage

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini continued the black and orange team’s record of putting a rider on the podium of each stage of the 2016 Aviva Women’s Tour with an excellent third place in the third stage between Ashbourne and Chesterfield. The Italian climber and Classics specialist was part of a highly select break, on what was to be the Queen Stage of the race; finishing just behind World Champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla) in a four-rider sprint.

“It was a really good race,” Longo Borghini said. “It was really a tough one. It was a bit shorter than the previous two, but it was really, really nice. the landscape was also really nice!

“We really have to thank the organisers for putting on such a good race. We asked last year for longer and harder stages, and they really did it.”

The hilly, 109km stage was subject to several unsuccessful attacks, but it was not until the peloton hit the tougher second half that an eleven-rider group got clear. Included in the break was Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Jolien D’hoore, who was able to work hard for her teammate when Longo Borghini bridged across with Armitstead and Moolman-Pasio.

“Jolien had to cover the early moves, and she did a really good job,” Longo Borghini explained. “She managed to be in the break and eventually, when Moolman attacked, I joined her; and then Lizzie came back. So we caught the group of Jolien and, together with [Armitstead’s teammate] Blaak and another Bigla rider, she was really going deep.

“When Lizzie attack on a false flat, and then we were four; me, Moolman, Lizzie and [Orica-AIS’, Amanda] Spratt, and we came into the sprint.”

Armitstead was always the favourite for the flat sprint for the line, across the cobbled surface of Chesterfield’s Market Place, but Longo Borghini is confident that her own sprint is improving all the time.

“She’s always quick, but I’m getting quicker!” she said.

With the main target for most top riders seasons coming at the Olympic Games, in Rio, in August, the Aviva Women’s Tour is an important stepping stone in Longo Borghini’s preparation. While the Rio race is set to be tougher still, the Italian is satisfied that her performance on the road to Chesterfield is a good indicator that her form is on the right track.

“The parcours is completely different, but for sure I’m building up for Rio and this was a good test,” she confirmed. “I’m trying also to sprint a bit, because I really need it – I need to improve this. So I’m satisfied.”

With overnight race leader Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) finishing fifth on the stage, some 36 seconds behind the four-rider group, Armitstead moved into the yellow jersey. Longo Borghini moved herself up to third place, however, just seven seconds behind the World Champion, with two tough stages to come.

“I think today I had my chance, and maybe tomorrow it’s somebody else’s chance,” she said of her possible general classification ambitions. “We will speak tonight, and we will see.”

1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervélo-Bigla)
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

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