Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini took second place in the fourth and final stage of the Emakumeen Bira, in Iuretta, in the Spanish Basque Country, after escaping in the second half of the mountainous 120km race. The Italian Champion jumped away from a select group, in pursuit of lone breakaway Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott), and was joined by Olga Zabelinskaya (Cogeas-Mettler). The two of them were unable to catch stage-winner Spratt, but the Longo Borghini was able to outsprint the Russian on the line.
“I could manage to have a good second place which, to me this week, means a lot, because I’ve been very sick and I was thinking about maybe not finishing - or even starting - the tour,” Longo Borghini. “But in the end I’ve finished it quite well and I’m happy about the fact that I’ve been tough and I held everything for this last stage.
“Every day I’ve felt better so today I wanted to try, and I think it worked out pretty well even though it wasn’t a victory for the team.”
Having been part of a 20-strong elite group over the main climb of the day, the Urkiola, the two powerful time trial riders rode clear after the two main general classification protagonists - race leader Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott) and Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) fought for bonus seconds.
“I went away on a bumpy road, where there was the intermediate sprint,” Longo Borghini explained. “Van der Breggen and van Vleuten sprinted for the bonus seconds and I went on the counter alone. Then Zabelinskaya followed me and we went together until the end.
“She’s a very good one to work with,” she added.
Longo Borghini’s second place also meant that she was able to take almost a minute in the general classification and rise to fifth in the final standings. Having been sick the night before the race - after having finished fourth in the Durango-Durango race - this is far more than she had been hoping for on the opening day.
It closes a successful stage race for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling, where Lisa Brennauer finished second and third on the opening two stages, and Emilia Fahlin finished second on the third stage.
“Everyone has had their own chance which is really good,” Longo Borghini smiled. “And I’m happy that the atmosphere was really good in the team and the girls were very nice. So I’m happy.
A successful Emakumeen Bira for Longo Borghini means that she is now ready to move on to the second phase of her season. After a spring marred by illness and allergies, the Italian Champion is looking forward to brighter times ahead.
“I’m looking forward to the next races,” she said. “Right now I’m heading to altitude for a while, and then my next race will be the Women’s Tour, then Nationals and the Giro. I’m looking forward to the summer!
“You’ve got to put the bad things behind you sometimes, and move forward.”
1. Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott)
2. Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling)
3. Olga Zabelinskaya (Cogeas-Mettler)
Photo Credit: Vélofocus