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Mara Abbott: “The Giro is why I’m still a cyclist”

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Mara Abbott will lead the black and orange team into the Giro d’Italia Femminile – the Giro Rosa – with the dual intention of winning a third edition of the only remaining women’s Grand Tour, and preparing herself to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. The 30-year-old Coloradan was named last week as part of a four-rider US team for Rio, but Abbott refuses to let this get in the way of what is always the biggest race of her season.

“It’s hard for me to even think about the Olympics with the Giro coming in just a few days,” she said. “It is an incredible honour to be selected for Rio – I can’t even really believe it still. But the Giro is why I am still a cyclist. I could be coy… but I absolutely love this race and the experiences it has already given me mean the world to me.

“Basically, if I am allowed any caffeine between now and August my head might explode due to excitement!” she laughed.

Last year’s Giro saw Abbott come close to winning on the final day, as she took the stage that climbed to San Domenico di Varza. With this year’s race crossing some of the most fearsome mountain passes that Italy has to offer, including the legendary Mortirolo on stage five, Abbott will be one of the hot favourites in her favourite terrain.

“And all mountains are lovely,” she smiled. “That’s just their birthright.”

“My dad bought a ticket just last week to come and see me race,” Abbott added. “That was the day before the Olympics and maybe just as exciting.  I can’t believe I get to share this with him.”

The best Italian rider in the Giro Rosa for the last two seasons has been Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini. While the 24-year-old goes into the race on good form, following her victory in the Italian Time Trial Championship, and second place in the Road Race, the prospect of the Olympic Games on the horizon means that Longo Borghini will switch focus for this year’s edition.

“I’m very excited this year to race the Giro,” she said. “I won’t go for the GC because I’m racing it as prep for Rio. Despite this there are some stages I really like; one of these is the last one in Verbania which is exactly on the roads where I always train every single day.

“I will be also at the disposition of Mara for helping her to climb up to the GC top!” Longo Borghini added.

Also on hand to help both Abbott and Longo Borghini will be Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s French rider Audrey Cordon-Ragot. The 26-year-old Breton also retained her National Time Trial title this weekend also has Rio in her sights.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Mayuko Hagiwara became the first ever rider from Japan to win a stage of the Giro Rosa last year, as along solo break saw her take stage six into Morbegno. The Asian Time Trial Champion will certainly be watched more closely by her rivals this time around, but will also be focusing much of her considerable climbing talent in support of Abbott.

Former two-time road World Champion Giorgia Bronzini and Australian Chloe Hosking will be Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s sprint partnership in this year’s Giro Rosa, with multiple stage winner Bronzini making her last ever appearance in the race before retiring at the end of the season.

Both sprinters will hope to be prominent in the early flat stages of the race, before lending their considerable power to their teammates as the Giro Rosa hits the mountains.

Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team for the Giro Rosa
Mara Abbott (United States), Giorgia Bronzini (Italy), Audrey Cordon-Ragot (France), Mayuko Hagiwara(Japan), Chloe Hosking (Australia), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy)

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