It wasn’t the opening of the European racing season at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad that Trek-Segafredo had hoped for on the weekend as a number of key players in last year’s top ranked team found themselves out of position at a crucial moment. Nevertheless Elisa Longo Borghini made the split and walked away from the day of aggressive racing happy with her form, if not the tenth place finish.
The 1.Pro race on Saturday was dominated by SD Worx, with Anna van der Breggen taking a solo victory after a split with about 38 kilometres to go that was stacked with members of the powerful Dutch team but left behind a number of out of position pre-race favourites. These included Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Longo-Borghini’s teammates Lizzie Deignan as well as Ellen van Dijk.
“We had a little bit of unluck today because we couldn’t be at the front as we wanted. It’s the first race and everybody is feeling a little bit stressed and everybody wants to stay in the front but it is not possible,” said Longo Borghini in a post race interview.
Longo Borghini, who had Audrey Cordon-Ragot for company initially, may not have been bolstered by a swathe of teammates but stayed active and aggressive in that front group. She held van der Breggen’s wheel when the world champion attacked after the split on the climb of the Berendries and, then after that move was reeled back in, attacked with Lotte Kopecky (Liv Racing) as the race approached the Kappelmuur. However van der Breggen also followed and the gap was closed.
Again with 15 kilometres to go Longo Borghini tried to get away and this time Demi Vollering (SD Worx), who had earlier been out the front solo, and Kopecky followed. The trio got a small gap on the group however Marlen Ruesser of Ale BTC City Lubjlana rode hard for her teammate Marta Bastianelli to bring the three riders back just before the Bosberg. That steep cobbled climb is when van der Breggen made the race winning move.
“We had a plan and I had to go,” said Longo Borghini. "At the Muur I tried and in the end on the Bosberg Anna was stronger and she went and her attack was really really good and she managed to go solo.”
“I was the only one there for my team and of course I couldn’t work and I was hoping that some of my teammates, because I had Audrey in the back, would come back and the others were not working completely well together. So I just waited for the sprint and got a little bit stuck in the last corners, but this is cycling and it is what it is.”
Danish national champion Emma Cecile Norsgaard of Movistar took the sprint for second from the reduced bunch with van der Breggen’s SD Worx teammate, Amy Pieters, rounding off the podium in third. Borghini was off the back of the group of eight riders sprinting to the line, finishing three seconds behind.
“It has been a good race for us and I’m just sorry that I missed a good result,” said the tenth-placed Borghini, who later added that it was nice to be back on the bike racing and she couldn’t complain about her form.
“I feel in good condition, still not 100 percent, but I feel good I have to say.”
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