Giro Rosa: Longo Borghini loses leader's jersey on gravel stage

ARCIDOSSO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 12: Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy and Team Trek - Segafredo Pink Leader Jersey / during the 31st Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile 2020, Stage 2 a 124,8km stage from Civitella Paganico to Arcidosso / @GiroRosaIccrea / #GiroRosa / on September 12, 2020 in Arcidosso, Italy. (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) loses the maglia rosa on stage 2 (Image credit: Getty Images)

Having won the opening team time trial with her Trek-Segafredo team, Elisa Longo Borghini started stage 2 of the Giro Rosa in the pink leader’s jersey. But hopes of overall success were quickly dashed as the Italian finished 4:22 minutes behind the stage winner and new overall leader, Annemiek van Vleuten (Mitchelton-Scott).

“Honestly, I had a really bad day,” Longo Borghini explained. “I started with a puncture and had to swap bikes with Audrey [Cordon-Ragot], and then back to mine later.”

Finally, back on her own bike, the pink jersey wearer was attentive on the decisive gravel climb, trying at first to follow Van Vleuten’s acceleration on the steep, slippery slopes. Soon, the world champion was out of sight, but Longo Borghini managed to stay with the first chase group for a good while.

“Halfway through the last gravel sector, my body just stopped working. I was empty. I managed 14th but I did not feel good at all. This is cycling – ups and downs – and it is like it is.  I am a bit sad for the team, I feel like I have let them down. But we have one week ahead and many more opportunities,” she added.

The time loss on the very challenging first road stage meant that the 28-year-old dropped from first to tenth place in the general classification, now 4:27 minutes behind Van Vleuten. Longo Borghini also lost ground on Soraya Paladin (CCC-Liv) and Erica Magnaldi (Ceratizit-WNT) but kept the two main challengers for the blue jersey awarded to the best Italian rider respectively 12 and 16 seconds behind her thanks to the TTT.

Longo Borghini has won the blue jersey five times in the last six editions of the Giro Rosa, including three times consecutively in the past three years. With the pink jersey now almost certainly out of reach, she can be expected to refocus her energy on securing the blue one – and with her time deficit, Longo Borghini will experience more freedom to attack than if she were in pink, meaning that she may have success chasing that Giro Rosa stage win which has eluded her so far.

Visit Cyclingnews' dedicated women's page for full reports, results, news, features and galleries from the 2020 Giro Rosa.

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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.