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Emma Johansson just inches from Trofeo Binda Podium

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Emma Johansson came within just a few inches of the podium of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda – Comune di Cittiglio this afternoon, as came down to a fight between just eight riders. The race, run just to the north of the city of Varese, was the third in the 2016 Women’s World Tour, and was won by World Champion Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans) as she chased across to lone attacker Jolanda Neff (Servetto-Footon) in the closing kilometres. Armitstead’s teammate, Megan Guarnier was able to sprint past Neff to take second place, but the Swiss rider just held off Johansson to take third place.

“I did feel pretty good,” Johansson, the winner of the race in 2014, said afterwards. “But it’s a race where the longer it goes the harder it gets and it just wears everyone out. The back door is open the whole time, and the peloton’s getting smaller and smaller. With a couple of laps to go we got away in that group of eight, but then Rabo had two and Boels had two, and Rabo were attacking quite hard and keeping the pressure on, and I jut tried to play it smart.”

As the lone Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling rider in what turned out to be the winning move, Johansson needed to use all of her race experience against the superior numbers from other teams. The Swedish champion managed to mark most of her rivals, but Neff managed to escape the other seven on the final lap.

“If there was an attack, and there was a Rabo there and a Boels there, then I needed to be there,” Johansson explained. “That made it hard, but I could also use them against each other.

“That’s what happened in the end when, coming into the last lap; when Jolanda went, she had the freedom, because nobody was really looking to her, but she’s such a strong rider and she’s always dangerous to give so much time.

“I heard that Lizzie was dropped on the last climb, but then when she came back she just went to the front and it looked like she was going to do the work for Megan for a bit. Then she got a small gap, but it wasn’t really up to me to close it when Rabo was there with two and they’d been racing so aggressive.”

Taking the final corner with just 300 metres to go, Armitstead and Neff were in sight of the chasers. Armitstead managed to sprint away from the Swiss champion to take the victory, however, but the rest of the podium places were still up for grabs.

“I had to gamble a bit,” Johansson said. “And on the last corner they weren’t so far away, so I decided to open up my sprint from the corner because that’s how I won the race [in 2014]. Lizzie was out of reach, but Jolanda was fading and I thought I might be able to catch her.”

With most of the race’s top teams represented in the eight-rider group, the rest of the peloton was unable to stop it from building it’s race-winning lead. Wiggle Pro Cycling’s Giorgia Bronzini took second in the bunch sprint, earning herself tenth place, while Olympic Champion Dani King took 20th, having led out the former two-time road World Champion.

Missing from the black and orange squad, however, was 2013 race winner – and local rider – Elisa Longo Borghini, however, whose presence could have made the difference in the decisive move.

“It’s a shame that Elisa wasn’t there,” Johansson said of her Italian teammate, who was forced to sit out her home race through illness. “But for her it’s more important that she gets 100% healthy first. But if Elisa was 100% healthy then we would have had two in the group and would have had cards to play in the final.

“I missed her in the final break, but we made the best of the situation. We raced with our hearts, and that’s something that’s really important.”

1. Lizzie Armitstead (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Jolanda Neff (Servetto-Footon)
4. Emma Johansson (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)

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