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Longo Borghini and Abbott make the elite selection on Giro Rosa stage two

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini and Mara Abbott were both part of the first general classification selection of the 2015 Giro Rosa, as they were part of a highly elite group that formed towards the end of the second stage, between Gaiarine and San Fior. Longo Borghini crossed the line in fourth place, behind Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv) and Ashley Moolman-Pasio (Bigla), while Abbott came in eighth, just six seconds later.

Guarnier took over the race leader’s pink jersey, but Longo Borghini now sits poised in fourth place, just 13 seconds back, and Abbott rises to eighth place at 37 seconds. As by far the best Italian in the general classification, Longo Borghini now holds the blue jersey.

“I didn’t feel awesome today because it was really, really warm, but I managed to stay with the front group,” Longo Borghini explained, modestly. “In the sprint I was fourth, which is a good result for me. I’m also really happy that Mara was at the front!”

The 121.5km was divided into two distinct parts, with the first, flat part dominated by three circuits around the San Fior area. It was in the second part, with three categorised climbs included in the final 50km, where the race was to be decided, when the two-rider group of Flavia Oliviera (Alé-Cipollini) and Carlee Taylor (Lotto-Soudal) escaped. The two riders led over the first two climbs, but were caught and passed before they could reach the third by the group of favourites.

Included in the group with Longo Borghini and Abbott, Guarnier, van der Breggen and Moolman-Pasio, were Karol-Ann Canuel (Velocio-SRAM) and Guarnier and van der Breggen’s teammates Evelyn Stevens and Kasia Niewiadoma. The group steadily built its lead over the pink jersey peloton behind it, with the gap approaching two minutes as they entered the final kilometre.

Stevens attempted to escape the others, but was pulled back and Guarnier won the sprint for the line.

“I felt pretty good today,” two-time Giro winner Abbott said. “We got away on the second climb of the day, mostly from the Rabo team just lifting the pace.

“I crashed on the descent of the second climb, and I had to chase back alone,” she explained. “I really thought my Giro was over at that point, so to make it back to that group – which was only the eight when I crashed – was just crazy!”

With the group having taken almost two minutes out of the rest of the peloton, the race looks to have been decided for anybody that missed out. With seven more days to come, however, Abbott is wary of writing anybody off at this early stage.

“I thought that today was definitely going to be a hard day,” she confirmed. “But there are more hard days to come, so I wouldn’t say that anyone was finished yet!”

The next group of just 21 riders, including Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Japanese Champion Mayuko Hagiwara, came in after one minute, 47 seconds, with groups spread out on the road behind it.

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s successful day was marred, however, as Spanish Champion Anna Sanchis and French Time Trial Champion Audrey Cordon Ragot were both brought down in a late crash, and both riders were forced to abandon the race.

“Losing Anna and Audrey is a huge loss for the team,” said Longo Borghini. “Because they would have been key riders for the upcoming mountain stages.”

1. Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans)
2. Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv)
3. Ashley Moolman-Pasio (Bigla)
4. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)
8. Mara Abbott (Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling)


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