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Mara Abbott up to fifth in Giro Rosa ahead of final Mountain Stage

Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling’s Mara Abbott lifted herself up to fifth overall in the General Classification of the 2015 Giro Rosa in today’s Individual Time Trial, between Pisano and Nebbiuno. The former two-time American Champion completed the 21.7km course in a time of 37 minutes, 50.45 seconds, to finish seventh on the stage, just one minute and 45 seconds behind winner Anna van der Breggen (Rabo-Liv).

Van der Breggen’s ride put the Dutch Time Trial Champion into the Pink Jersey, while Abbott now sits two minutes, 29 seconds behind with just the final stage to the steep mountaintop finish at San Domenico di Varzo to come.

“I was able to come to Italy early for the race and spend some time training on the course,” Abbott said afterwards. “I loved it, and I was excited to come back here all week.”

Like many of the riders in the event, the technical course saw Abbott elect not to ride her Colnago K-Zero time trial bike, but use her usual road bike instead.

“It was a course with enough up and down, and technical sections, that it didn’t make sense to me to go on a TT bike,” Abbott explained. “I had decided that last week already. I felt quite pleased to see the others making the same selection!”

Although Abbott concedes that her 2’29” deficit to van der Breggen will make overall victory in the 2015 Giro very difficult to achieve, the two-time winner refuses to concede until the race is finally over. Her two victories, in 2010 and 2013, were achieved through her climbing talents – including a stage victory on San Domenico in 2013 – and she finished second on the corresponding stage last year.

“This race certainly doesn’t have a parade day for the final stage this year,” she said. “It’s going to keep it up until the last kilometre, and I’m excited!”

Elisa Longo Borghini finished the stage in 20th place, two minutes, 47.04 seconds behind van der Breggen, and now sits in sixth place overall, three minutes and one second behind, as the race heads to her home roads tomorrow. The 23-year-old leads the Blue Jersey Classification for the Best Italian Rider by a considerable margin, and looks set to claim it for a second consecutive year.

“I didn’t feel all that good today, so I’m a little bit disappointed,” Longo Borghini said. “Of course it is nice to still have this jersey, but we came to the Giro to take the pink one, and we will give everything again tomorrow.”

The final stage will start from Longo Borghini’s hometown of Verbania, and climb to the 1400-metre-high ski resort at San Domenico. With her own local knowledge, alongside Abbott’s experience on the climb, Longo Borghini is confident that Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling will be among the protagonists.

“Tomorrow will be a nice stage,” Longo Borghini confirmed. “It will be very good for Mara.”

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