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Longo Borghini and Abbott looking ahead to Giro Rosa’s decisive final weekend

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Mara Abbott remain close to the top of the General Classification of the 2015 Giro Rosa, as the race heads into its decisive final weekend. The two black and orange riders finished fifth and seventh respectively alongside the other big names of the race at the end of the seventh stage, between Arenzano and Loano, two minutes and 41 seconds behind lone winner Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv).

Longo Borghini now sits fourth overall, and best Italian rider, just 31 seconds behind race leader Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), while Abbott sits 30 seconds further back in sixth. Unfortunately, Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Stage Six winner Mayuko Hagiwara crashed on a descent, the Japanese Champion was able to continue, and finished the stage, but slipped down the General Classification.

“Today it was a really hard day,” Longo Borghini said, after pulling on her Blue Best Italian Jersey. “There was a first category climb, which I managed to pass with the Maglia rosa group, together with Mara. Then some other riders came back, including Mayuko who went into a breakaway, but unfortunately she crashed on the descent.

“I dropped from the five that were in the Maglia Rosa group, but Mara was still in there,” she continued. “I rode at my own pace up the last three kilometres of the last climb, and then I was able to come back on the descent.”

The last two remaining stages of the race will consist of 21.7km individual time trial between Pisano and Nebbiuno, to the west of Milan, on Saturday, followed by a 92.7km road stage between Verbania and the mountaintop finish at San Domenico di Varzo. As a native of Verbania, Longo Borghini will be racing on her home roads this weekend, but won’t be able to show her National Champion’s Time Trial Jersey that she wore in last week’s Ljubljana, Slovenia, Prologue.

“I won’t wear my tricolore because I’ve got the blue jersey,” Longo Borghini explained. “If things had gone differently I might have been higher in the GC at this moment, but for now I feel okay like this.

“Racing at home is nice, but when the road goes up there’s no extra motivation or anything like that,” she added. “You can’t hide, and if you’re not strong enough you drop.”

Abbott’s two Giro victories, in 2010 and 2013, were built upon her stage victories in the high passes of the Italian Alps. After climbing with the best in the race on all the uphill stages so far, however, the former two-time American Champion is also looking ahead to Saturday’s time trial.

“It was a tough day,” she said of Friday’s 89.7km stage in the hills above the Ligurian coast. “All the teams worked hard and the course was really tough. I’m really proud that we were able to finish strongly with Elisa and I in the front bunch.

“I had confidence that Elisa would make it back, but when I heard the official blowing his whistle in the car behind us it was a great noise!” she added.

“I got a chance to see the time trial before the race, and it’s a really nice course,” Abbott concluded. “I’m really looking forward to it!”

Podium Photo Credit: Sonoko Tanaka

1. Lucinda Brand (Rabo-Liv)
2. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
3. Ashleigh Moolman (Bigla)
5. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
7. Mara Abbott (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)


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