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Mara Abbott solos into Pink over the Mortirolo on Giro Rosa Stage 5

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Mara Abbott took a stunning solo victory in the fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia Femminile, as the race took on the fearsome Mortirolo. The two-time race winner escaped the peloton on the steep slopes of the climb, and opened a gap of almost five minutes over the Pink Jersey group; despite a crash on the technical plateau before the descent, Abbott managed to hold on to enough time to take the race lead herself. Having sat in the chasing group over the climb and descent, Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini won the sprint for second place, ahead of former World Champion Tatiana Guderzo (Hitec Products), 37 seconds later.

“It’s wonderful to be able to win, and it’s wonderful to be able to pay back some of the trust that the girls have put in me so far,” Abbott said afterwards. “We’ve got four more days to get this done, so we’re not taking anything for granted yet.”

Having started the day just 50 seconds behind overnight leader Evelyn Stevens (Boels-Dolmans), Mara’s victory margin was enough to see her take over the Pink Jersey from her compatriot.

“We’ve still got four stages more to go,” Abbott said of the achievement. “The goal is to finish in it, not just to wear it, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do!”

The 77.5km stage, between Grosio and Tirano was the shortest road stage of the race, but by far the toughest, with the Mortirolo at its halfway point. The top of the climb was followed by a rolling plateau, and then a technical descent before a shirt, flat section to the slightly uphill finish.

“I pretty much went straight from the bottom and tried to take it as steady as I could for myself, to just go my pace and see where I could end up,” Abbott explained. “A break was gone, but I went past them; so the break didn’t last very long.

“There was a plateau for a while, and then some rollers,” the two-time Giro winner continued. “And on the first descent of the rollers I actually crashed… pretty badly, which was not really part of the game plan. I hit a big hole – there were a lot of those to look out for – but I was able to get back up and keep going. My bike was kind of messed up, but it worked.

“Then it was just a matter of getting my head back round to where I was, and really trying to focus myself, after landing pretty hard I had to get myself down the rest of the descent.”

Abbott crossed the line alone, while the highly select group of chasers steadily reduced in number behind her. With Stevens dropped, there were only three riders left in the group as it arrived at the finish, where Longo Borghini was able to outsprint Guderzo and Stevens’ teammate Megan Guarnier.

Her second place on the stage – a second of the race – lifts Longo Borghini up to third overall, just 15 seconds behind Abbott, continuing to give the black and orange team a second card to play in the tough stages to come.


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