Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Elisa Longo Borghini finished the second stage of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, between Rushden and Daventry, in the Queen of the Mountains Jersey after an aggressive finale to the race. The Italian Champion escaped the peloton over the final climb of Newnham Hill, with just 2.3km to go, but was caught by the front of the fracturing peloton before she could reach the finish.
The stage was won by Coryn Rivera (Team Sunweb) in a close sprint over European Champion Marianne Vos (Waowdeals Pro Cycling), with Luxembourg Champion Christine Majerus (Boels-Dolmans) third.
“The last 30km of the stage were aggressive,” Longo Borghini said afterwards. “Everything actually got decided on the last lap. In the GPM the first time we got away with four, but the group closed us up, and in the end it was a restricted group of riders contending the stage.”
Longo Borghini’s move on the first ascent of Newnham Hill pulled 2017 race winner Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and the Waowdeals Pro Cycling duo of and former Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling rider Dani Rowe. The four riders were only able to pull open a gap of 30 seconds, however, before the first part of the peloton reeled them in.
“Sunweb wanted to do the chase and close,” the Italian Champion explained.
The second time over the climb, Longo Borghini attacked again, escaping alone this time, but the Italian Champion was unable to open up a big enough gap over the charging group behind her.
“I tried to attack and then I went fast downhill, but then the last kilometre they caught me,” she said. “We were all stretched. It wasn’t really worth mentioning because I only had 50 metres!”
Crossing Newnham Hill first on both occasions, as well as taking second place over the earlier Weedon Hill gave Longo Borghini enough points to take over the Black, Queen of the Mountains Jersey, which she will wear instead of her usual green, white and red tricolore on stage three. The competition was won by Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling’s Audrey Cordon-Ragot in 2017, and it had been a target again in 2018.
“It’s always nice to wear a jersey during a Tour,” Longo Borghini explained. “We were talking about this Mountain Jersey with Audrey, but for a technical reason she wasn’t able to do the QOM so I did it for her instead. So I got myself some points, and today I just sprinted for the jersey.”
As well as the Mountains Jersey, Longo Borghini’s second top-ten finish in two days mean that the Italian Champion sits sixth in the General Classification, just 21 seconds behind Rivera with the hardest stages of the race to come.
“I feel okay, and I hope the next days will be every day a bit better,” she smiled.
Stage two was not not all good news for Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling unfortunately, as Katie Archibald was forced to abandon due to the injuries she sustained in a crash on Stage one. The Olympic Champion was brought down as she, and the rest of the team, were pulling Kirsten Wild back up to the peloton after the Dutch sprinter was held up by an earlier incident.
“Yesterday was a very unlucky day for us,” Longo Borghini said. “We had two crashes in 1km, so we can call it an lucky day. Katie really hurt herself and today she was very in pain.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the race, while Longo Borghini sits poised in the General Classification, she sees plenty of opportunities for the rest of the team.
“We’ll see,” she smiled. “Kirsten in my opinion is, right now, very strong, so we will see how it will unfold.”
Photo Credit: Vélofocus