Giro d'Italia Donne: Longo Borghini's all-or-nothing ride nearly pays off

Elisa Longo Borghini in second place on stage 7 at the Giro d'Italia Donne
Elisa Longo Borghini takes second place on stage 7 at the Giro d'Italia Donne (Image credit: Getty Images)

Trek-Segafredo might be out of contention for the overall title at the Giro d'Italia Donne, but the team are now launching an all-in battle for stage wins. Italian Champion Elisa Longo Borghini displayed her famous all-or-nothing racing style again on stage 7, only to come up one place short of a victory at Puegnago Del Garda.

“On arrivals like this, Marianne [Vos] is almost unbeatable, but you still have to try. My team made a great train up to the one-kilometre mark, I followed [Tiffany] Cromwell instinctively, then I heard Lizzie [Deignan] shout, ‘go’," Longo Borghini said after finishing behind Vos in a two-way uphill sprint to the line.

"With Marianne on my wheel, the only way to win was to avoid a sprint. She stayed on my wheel, so I continued as hard as I could to try to drop her. She won by force and cunning, but deservedly so,” she said.

Longo Borghini and her Trek-Segafredo team had come to the Giro d’Italia Donne with a plan to win the general classification. Lucinda Brand was to be Longo Borghini’s lieutenant and a second card to play, and support for the GC bid was to come from Lizzie Deignan, as a super-domestique, plus Ruth Winder, Ellen van Dijk, and Tayler Wiles. 

When their GC challenge fell apart on the stage 2 mountaintop finish to Prato Nevoso, the team changed plans and focused on racing aggressively and chase stage victories instead.

The hilly stage 7 again saw the team making the race, sending Brand up the road in a solo breakaway that netted her the lead in the green mountain jersey competition. 

When Brand was caught, Longo Borghini launched a counterattack in the uphill final, going after Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM), but her bid for the stage victory came up short against Marianne Vos (Team Jumbo-Visma), who won her 30th Giro Donne stage.

Though Trek-Segafredo won the opening team time trial, the team suffered a first blow to its GC ambitions the same day when Lucinda Brand, fourth and sixth overall in the 2018 and 2019 editions, respectively, lost contact with the team and finished 4:41 minutes down, putting Longo Borghini’s lieutenant out of the equation.

The next day, Longo Borghini herself had a bad day on the mountaintop finish in Prato Nevoso, losing 8:30 minutes to stage winner and overall leader Anna van der Breggen (Team SD Worx). On top of that, Wiles had to leave the race before stage 3 because of a cold.

Deignan still sits in fourth place overall, but victory is out of reach as she trails the maglia rosa by nearly six minutes after the stage 4 mountain ITT, with only one mountaintop finish to come.

Brand had been on the attack on stage 3 already, joining the decisive breakaway of four, but she too lost the stage to Vos. On stage 6 around Lake Como, Longo Borghini launched an attack herself and was joined by Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Team SD Worx). Their breakaway was reeled in with 13 km to go, the two experienced riders thanking each other for the effort.

Although the team’s efforts have not been successful so far, Longo Borghini is satisfied with her and the team’s performance.

“We raced the stage to make the race. I am happy with my Giro; I feel good. I had one type of race in mind before starting, but then the road changed my plans. 

"I am having fun and racing with a more attacking spirit, as yesterday’s and today’s stages show. I am enjoying it as it comes, day after day,” the Italian champion finished.

Lucinda Brand in a breakaway that nets her the lead in the mountain competition

Lucinda Brand in a breakaway that nets her the lead in the mountain competition (Image credit: Getty Images)

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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.