A tip from Lizzie Deignan - Longo Borghini uses sprint savviness to win Women's Tour

Picture by Zac Williams/SWpix.com- 11/06/2022 - Cycling - The Women's Tour 2022 Stage 6 - Chipping Norton to Oxford - Wales - Elisa Longo Borghini wins the 2022 Women's Tour.
Elisa Longo Borghini delighted to win the Women's Tour 2022 (Image credit: SWPix)

Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) thought she had lost the fight for the Women’s Tour overall victory after the first intermediate sprint on stage 6 but her team convinced the Italian champion to refocus on the stage finish. Then strong teamwork in the final set Longo Borghini up to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a savvy sprint for time bonuses.

Longo Borghini had started stage 6 on the same time as yellow jersey Grace Brown (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope), but in the first intermediate sprint, she mistimed her sprint and was beaten by Brown, her own lead-out Audrey Cordon-Ragot, and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM), putting Longo Borghini three seconds behind Brown.

“I thought ‘okay, that’s second place, that’s it’. But all my teammates were like ‘we’ll try at the finish line, we’ll do the lead-out for you’. I was really doubting, but when I saw such a motivated team and they really believe in you, I just wanted to give them back everything,” said Longo Borghini.

The Trek-Segafredo team had looked at the finish before the stage and knew there was an opportunity for the 30-year-old Italian to make up the three-second deficit.

“We knew the finale was pretty technical and we studied it this morning with [director] Ina Teutenberg. This is also why in the end I think they all believed I could do it because of the corners. But again, I have to give big thanks to my team Trek-Segafredo," Longo Borghini said.

“Lizzie [Deignan] sent me a nice message yesterday and said remember my sprint in 2019. That was such a close battle again with Kasia Niewiadoma and she made it, so yeah it was nice to hear from her about that.”

Deignan, who is currently on leave from racing, won the Women's Tour by two seconds ahead of Niewiadoma in 2019, after starting the final stage tied on time. 

On the technical run-in to Oxford, Trek-Segafredo lined up at the front of the peloton, four riders surrounding Longo Borghini at the two-kilometre mark. 

Four turns and a short uphill on the final kilometre played to Longo Borghini’s strengths and after the first turn at the flamme rouge, Cordon-Ragot led out the Italian champion, who accelerated up the slight rise, stretching out the peloton.

“In the end they all did a perfect job,” Longo Borghini praised her teammates. 

“I let some riders go in to take the draft, then I did my own sprint. It was a very good display of teamwork and I’m really thankful to all my teammates and to the staff that’s here working for me. We showed how much teamwork is worth in cycling,” she said.

Having manoeuvred through the turns well, Longo Borghini came onto the finishing straight in second position behind Clara Copponi (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope). Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) sprinted past both of them to take the victory while Brown was out of contention, eventually finishing in 12th place.

Longo Borghini was not aware of where her competitor was: “At that point I just wanted to take the bonus seconds,” she said. 

And she did: Although Copponi finished ahead of her in second place, Longo Borghini held off a late challenge from Tereza Neumanová (Liv Racing Xstra) to take third place, and the four bonus seconds for that put her one second ahead of Brown in the final GC to win the 2022 Women’s Tour by a tiny margin after more than 19 hours of racing.

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Lukas Knöfler started working in cycling communications in 2013 and has seen the inside of the scene from many angles. Having worked as press officer for teams and races and written for several online and print publications, he has been Cyclingnews’ Women’s WorldTour correspondent since 2018.