The Italian champion takes 3rd in a challenging Stage 4 ahead of the Queen stage tomorrow
Elisa Longo Borghini took a backseat in the first three days of The Women’s Tour, knowing that Stages 4 and 5 would be her show.
In the opening two days, Elisa played a support role and first tested her legs in a hillier Stage 3 that ended in a reduced sprint. Elisa came away with a solid 5th place.
While Stage 3 saw a few daunting climbs, Stage 4 was peppered with hills, and The Women’s Tour began to take on a different and much more animated form.
Attacks flew from the gun with a dangerous four-rider breakaway going clear and gaining two and a half minutes. The race was on! And so was Trek-Segafredo.
The Team didn’t even try to play poker in the chase, sending all the riders to the front and not allowing the leaders any more freedom.
With the breakaway controlled, the strongest came to the fore on the undulating terrain that was zapping everyone’s legs. Fifty kilometers from the finish, a 10-woman move forged ahead on a climb with Elisa Longo Borhgini and Ellen van Dijk represented.
Team DSM gave a valiant chase for their sprinter and race leader Lorena Wiebes, who already has two wins in her pocket and seeking a third. While they managed to eke back the gap to less than 20 seconds at one point, the hills finalized the pursuit.
The gap swelled in the final kilometers giving the edge to the 10 out front – soon to be nine when Ellen van Dijk punctured, leaving Elisa alone in the battle for the stage win.
“When Ellen flatted, the plan stayed the same,” explained Elisa. “Eventually, Grace Brown attacked with 5kms to go, and I let Niewiadoma counter it and when I saw she couldn’t reach her, I countered myself and overtook Kasia and we caught Grace Brown.
The race entered the final kilometers with three riders – Longo Borghini, Brown and Niewiadoma – leading and four chasing, and would remain that way to the end.
In the sprint, Elisa jumped first. But Brown caught her slipstream and shot around for victory, with Niewiadoma also overtaking the Italian champion ahead of the line.
“I made a silly mistake in the sprint – I opened too early. I was too eager,” pointed out Elisa. “In the end, what can you do? They were faster and that’s it. But overall, I am happy with my performance and chapeau to my teammates because today they were super, and I really want this to be mentioned.”
She continued: “When we had to chase the break that had over two minutes, they went all to the front and they worked really hard. Then they put me in the perfect spot for attacking, and in the end, I had Ellen with me. So today was an amazing team effort. Thank you to them.”
The race will hit a crescendo tomorrow with a summit finish in the Queen stage. Longo Borghini sits in 3rd place overall, which, she explained, was a little unexpected after today’s race.
“I didn’t think it would end with just three at the finish line. So let’s see tomorrow how it goes. Tomorrow’s summit finish will be nice, the first time in the Women’s Tour. It’s a good finish; I have good memories from 2019 with Lizzie (Deignan) because we broke away in this stage, and she won the Tour, so let’s see what tomorrow brings.”